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Belen Fernandez: Honour Crimes and Islamophobia

Ilisha has written several seminal articles for Loonwatch on the relationship between honor killings and Islamophobia that have gone a long way in debunking the prevailing narrative frame propagated by the looniverse that casts Islam as inherently supportive of “honour crimes.”

Belen Fernandez’s article on AlJazeera English is a welcome addition to this discussion which she analyzes in light of the propensity of certain Zionist organizations and individuals/Right-wingers who adopt “honour killings as a pet topic” to further their own agendas.

I will add that the adoption of such “pet topics” is not limited to only certain Zionists and Right-wingers but also seeps into the discourse of self-declared Liberals who are employed in the business of Empire.

Honour crimes and Islamophobia

by Belen Fernandez (AlJazeera English)

On December 11, the University of Rochester in western New York state will host an event “[t]o shed sorely needed daylight on the complex issue of honour crimes in our community”.

Organised by an assistant professor from the Rochester Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, the event will consist of various discussions with “community leaders, academics, members of law enforcement agencies, legal professionals and health providers” and will feature an Arab Israeli keynote speaker from “an organisation that works to end honour killings in Israel”.

The “complex issue” requiring psychiatric attention appears even more complicated when we consider that honour crimes don’t seem to constitute an overwhelming problem in the community. Though it could be argued that this is simply because sorely needed daylight has yet to be shed on them, it is worthwhile highlighting the ease with which daylight can be manufactured.

For example, when teenager Faheem Abdul Jaleel apparently stabbed his female cousin in a Rochester suburb in June 2011, the anti-Islamic vanguard headed by the preposterously influential commentator Pamela Geller wasted no time in decrying an “attempted honour killing”, based entirely on the ethnic connotations of the perpetrator’s name.

Also in 2011, NPR reported that the Muslim community in Buffalo, New York, had been “fighting the stereotype” of honour killings since a spontaneous misdiagnosis in the press regarding the 2009 murder of a Muslim woman by her husband.

As is meanwhile quite clear from domestic violence and homicide statistics among the 99 per cent of the US population that is not Muslim, such crimes generally take place independent of Islam.

Israel’s non-criminal killing of Arabs 

By adopting honour killings as a pet topic, Zionists and other right-wing forces seek to delegitimise and even criminalise Arab and Muslim society in general.

Consider an August 2012 essay in the neo-conservative FrontPage Magazine asserting an “Arab cultural and Islamic propensity of violence toward women”.

The author characterises the fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old Palestinian woman by her husband as a “death sentence which tragically has been shared by a long and ever-expanding list of Palestinian women and girls”. He does not care to explain why it is not also tragic that an even longer expanding list of Palestinian women, girls and all other varieties of human beings happen to share the fate of obliteration by Israeli munitions. Nor does he delve into what this might indicate about Israeli cultural propensities or those of Israel’s preferred ally and automated teller machine.

Without downplaying the obvious tragedy of honour crimes, we must ask why it is that we are supposed to be horrified by the idea that “in the past two years, 25 [Palestinian] women have been subjected to honour killings” but not by the fact that 1,400 Palestinians were wiped out in three weeks during Operation Cast Lead.

FrontPage claims that, although “honour killings have long been a staple byproduct of Palestinian society”, the world’s foremost anti-Israel institution – that is, the UN, which nonetheless somehow manages never to enforce resolutions against the Jewish state – has deceitfully implicated non-Palestinians in said byproduct:

“Not surprisingly, for some, this pervasive [Palestinian] violence has been laid at the feet of the usual suspects, namely the Israelis. This scapegoating was summarily expressed in a 2011 report by the United Nations Economic and Social Council which blamed harsh economic and social conditions created by the Israeli ‘siege’, an occupation which has led to high levels of poverty, unemployment and, thus, ‘violence, within families’.”

The article’s allegation that “in Muslim countries throughout the Mideast, South Asia and Africa… men more often than not treat women little better than livestock” is meanwhile followed by the suggestion that “[c]hanging that dismal equation will take more than just a cultural revolution”. This seems to prescribe further state violence as a means of ending individual violence, which is itself often inextricably linked to state violence in the first place.

Islamic imperialism and mind control 

Conveniently located to one side of the article on the FrontPage website is an advertisement for another stellar example of scapegoating: A pamphlet entitled, “Islamophobia: Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future“.

Penned by FrontPage founder David Horowitz and co-conspirator Robert Spencer, the pamphlet promises – for a mere three-dollar donation – to explain how Islamophobia is an invention of the Muslim Brotherhood and to expose the UN’s role in the Brotherhood’s project to “destroy the American civilisation from within” by criminalising criticism of Islam.

Lest doubts remain that Islamophobia is anything but a disease afflicting the authors themselves, the summary of the essay posits a pattern of “Islamic imperialism” in the West. Apparently, the Islamic empire is being erected on the foundations of valid complaints of Western anti-Muslim discrimination rather than, say, ubiquitous military bases and the exploitation of humans and resources that characterises other better-known forms of imperialism.

The summary also denotes as a “notable opponent of Islamic terror” the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, whose anti-terror efforts included vows to explode a mosque slated for construction in Tuscany and hysterics over the reckless American policy of permitting persons by the name of Mustafa and Muhammad to study chemistry and biology at university despite the threat of Muslim-waged germ warfare.

Clearly, Horowitz and Spencer’s purported attempt to contribute to “the global struggle against religious intolerance and totalitarianism” is an example of hypocrisy in the extreme. However, endeavours such as Rochester University’s symposium on honour killings can prove similarly problematic, providing as they do a venue for the incubation of racist and paranoid delusions and the targeting of a single religious group that has already been disproportionately subjected to civil rights violations by the New York Police Department.

Read the rest…

Note: I expect the predictable type of criticisms of the sentence in which Belen says, “By adopting honour killings as a pet topic, Zionists and other right-wing forces…” I will just say that it appears to me she is speaking about “right-wing” forces and not stating “all Zionists” adopt “honour killings” as a pet topic.

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  • Theres not any logic comparing Israels defence operations to honour killings. Murder is crime but self defence is not. Somehow the writer of this article thinks that you cannot talk about honour violence in palestinian society if you dont condemn Israel in same sentence.

    Its a shame that articles like this one put the sites credibility at stake because I really think that islamophobia and racism should be fought against. Israel has its problems for sure but comparing its actions to honour killers is disgusting.

  • Chameleon_X

    I just saw the tragic story that came out today about the Connecticut school shooting. When I scrolled down to the comments, this was the first comment at the top of the list of hundreds, by someone named “Jim S”:

    “All the shooters have similar characteristics: young men, insulted in some way, who believe they must glorify themselves by demonstrating to the world their capacity for conscienceless violence. They compensate for their weakness with overwhelming firepower against defenseless targets. This is about immature boys and young men getting their feelings hurt and lashing out in deadly and spectacular tantrums; it is about wounded egos and a pathological devotion to the supremacy of self.”
    What Jim S. aptly described was an ego-fuelled (i.e., “honor killing”) motive for murder, no different from almost all murders. So please explain to me, what makes any honor/ego-driven motive for murder any more horrifying than another?

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    For instance look at these figures for scotland with a population of about 5million
    Violence in relationships is a world wide issue not restricted to any religion creed or life style .
    Sir David

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  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    The more I think about it, the more I come to realise that for loons ,Honour violence is domestic violence with a muslim involved . No one has offered any evidence otherwise .

    We should not take part in supporting this false dehumanising dichotomy.

    Unlike many others who post here I have many years experiance in dealing professionaly with Domestic violence and communities ( both muslim and none muslim ) Violence in relationships is justified in many ways by those commiting the violence . I frankly dont care I have heard them all ( drink drugs, Bible, Quran, stupidity, anger etc ). There is no justification ever for violence in relationships .

    Sir David

  • Chameleon_X

    “It is entirely possible to be horrified by both”

    Of course, as the writer of the article expressed, per the quote I highlighted. You are not making any point, since everyone on this site and the article itself would agree with this straw man argument.

    “it is entirely possible to mention palestinian honour murders without mentioning [operation] cast lead”

    Anything is possible in how an article is written, so that is also a meaningless point. The only meaningful question is whether this fact is relevant to the point of the article, and it most definitely is, as I already showed. A fundamental point of the article is that the Zionist ideology campaigning to dehumanize the Palestinians is the same ideology behind the ethnic cleansing and apartheid efforts against those Palestinians. I would suggest that you read the “Fear, Inc.” report, which demonstrates the undeniable Zionist funding behind a large proportion of the Islamophobia industry. I would also highlight the fact for you that a clear majority of Israeli Jews acknowledge that some form of apartheid against Arabs in Israel and the occupied territories already exists.

    “what is the punishment for an honour murder in the West Bank?”

    I don’t know, but I do know that you can get away with murder a lot more easily in any country where its legal system is in shambles and back room deals and bribes are the norm, which in turn leads to more murders. The only point that is relevant to me is what the penalty for “honor killing” is in Islam. It is the same penalty for any other murder: death. Therefore, to argue that Islam tolerates, let along promotes, honor killings is the height of absurdity.

    A more fundamental question to ask is, why aren’t hundreds of murders in the U.S. by Christians and other non-Muslims called “honor killings”? I would argue, and a sampling of domestic violence data would show, that a large proportion of domestic murder cases (by men of women) are ultimately tied back to a man’s ego (i.e., personal honor and respect) being undermined in some way by a woman as the key motive. So how does it make sense that “honor killing” is what deviant “Muslims” do when their honor/egos are bruised, but plain vanilla “murder” is what everyone else is supposedly doing when their honor/egos are bruised? The answer is that “honor killing” is little more than a convenient dehumanizing label applied to make it sound like one type of domestic murder is fundamentally more “horrific” than another type of domestic murder. Murder is murder, and in almost every murder, someone’s puffed-up ego is at the root of the motive. Although such a logical tautology should be obvious to anyone with a brain, it seems to escape those thoroughly brainwashed by Islamophobia and other propaganda.

  • Chameleon_X

    Your argument the that the atrocities against Palestinian women by pro-Zionist Jews are irrelevant in a discussion of domestic murders of Palestinian women – propagandized as “Islamic honor killings” by those same pro-Zionist Jews — shows you have not only missed the logical connection completely, but the conclusive point being made as well, per the article:

    “By adopting honour killings as a pet topic, Zionists and other right-wing forces seek to delegitimise and even criminalise Arab and Muslim society in general.”

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Mm and how many women were killed in the previous attack on Gaza.
    One human killed is too many. Remember we are talking about human lives taken away . Real people who laughed played worked loved . Violence is wrong even if you dress it up in weasel words like honour , domestic and justified.
    Although I am not a Muslim I feel the Quran has it correct when it talks about killing one person is the same as killing everyone.

    Sir David

  • Sarka

    Um…On Gaza figures 13 women were killed during the recent Israeli operation Pillar of Defence.. On PA/Gaza official figures for honour killings of women 27 were killed in 2011-2012, but Palestinian NGO sources suggest that the real figure is higher.

    So as far as mortality figures for women are concerned, anything from slightly to substantially more women were victims of honour killings than of Israeli fire.
    So I think you are a bit wild in suggesting that the female casualties of honour crime are “incredibly small” compared to those of Israeli military actions. Both sorts of casualties are, though very small compared to total population of the areas.

  • Solid Snake

    Excellent comment. I like how you classified Honor Killings as a subset of domestic violence. Bigots like to imagine that Honor killings are somehow a separate phenomenon that occurs over “there” and over here we “just” have some pesky domestic violence. When they separate the two it is as if to imply that the broad category of domestic violence is somehow less appalling than Honor killing. I’ve heard the concession “Ok so what a man kills his wife for cheating on him in a case of domestic violence, it pales in comparison to honor killings” except that they had just described an honor killing in that same sentence.

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Silence is consent . Domestic violence is wrong. I agree making lots of noise about violence elsewhere distracts from violence close at hand .( are you reading this Mrs Geller ? )
    Sir David

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “Honor killings” are simply a particular subset or form of domestic violence. There are obviously other types of domestic violence, such as violence short of killing as well as cases where the killer does not attempt to justify their actions based on supposed violations of honor (sometimes they have no claimed justification, sometimes it may be because the victim was supposedly “disrespectful” or perhaps “lazy and didn’t cook me dinner,” etc. Obviously, all of these claimed justifications are not valid at all.)

    Singling out one form of domestic violence for the purposes of claiming, without any true basis, that it shows that one group of people is more prone to violence is a form of rather vile propaganda not only because it is a bigoted action, but also for a reason similar to what you mention: it makes it easier to ignore other forms of domestic violence. In fact, it may encourage those bigots to downplay other forms of domestic violence, though I imagine that they don’t all go that far.

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Can someone explain the difference between so called Honour Killing and Domestic Violence ? It seems to me that for Loons, one is ignored or ok and the other is committed by muslims .
    As far as I am concerned what ever you call it , it is wrong and needs to be punished to the full extent of the law. Plus safe houses need to be established for victims
    Sir David

  • mindy1

    Wonderfully stated

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  • Reynardine

    Thank you. I value your opinion.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Excellent comment, your points should definitely be included in any future articles on this topic.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Yeah, AlJazeera needs some moderators who can weed out the trolls. I mean there are individuals on there who are just on there, self-admitedly to destroy and sabotage any and every article. Pretty ridiculous.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Nice ability to argue the facts and points made within the article.

  • Reynardine

    I would go so far as to say that these Republican candidates were attempting to re-stigmatize and re-demonize rape victims, at the same time as they were trying to render women at large more vulnerable to both the crime and its consequences, while immunizing most perpetrators from prosecution. The net effect, if not the conscience intent, is to terrorize women from ever leaving their homes even to work or study, let alone lead independent lives. These (largely Dominionist) misogynists then project their Taliban-like objectives onto the small Muslim population of this country.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Agreed. I would argue that there is a continuing trend in western culture of stigmatizing, even blaming rape victims. In fact, during the presidential race we saw a number of patently absurd comments regarding rape (perhaps unsurprisingly, mostly coming from Republicans). The same thing goes for prostitution. Police spend more time and effort punishing the prostitutes themselves than they do their pimps or johns.

  • Reynardine

    “Honor killings” were common in Mediterranean Europe until mid-Twentieth Century, and the practice of expelling a deflowered daughter- even a rape victim- to life on the streets as a prostitute, was not unknown in the United States for almost as long (although a woman with a “past” often had a future if she managed to go West, where women were scarce). Domestic violence is rife in every society to this day; it increases when hardship increases, and is virtually demanded by fundamentalist religions of any kind. A Taliban-type dictatorship could easily happen here, but the perpetrators would not be Muslims. They would be Christian Reconstructionists, like kill-your-children Charles Fuqua. Laws have to recognize the human inviolability of every human being, and it is incumbant on each of us to realize that cognizence of the humanity in another does not mean diminished humanity for ourselves.

  • Fasdunkle

    Surely that article is a joke

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    Hey the trolls are in full swing on the article in Al Jazeera it’s quite funny if not sad at the same time

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