Killing in the name of ...

honourDid you hear about the attempted honor killing a couple of weeks ago in Arizona? I haven't seen many stories about it. Tmatt looked at the ghosts in some of the coverage a week or so ago but It's clearly not major news, although national media outlets have begun running their traditional one (or fewer!) stories on the matter. For the life of me, I can't understand why stories about honor killings or attempted honor killings aren't major news. This is a concept so very foreign and horrifying to most readers of American media and yet these stories are routinely underplayed. Now maybe the mainstream media doesn't need advice on how to get more readers/viewers/listeners, but I think that when a father runs down his daughter with two tons of steel over some perceived slight to his honor, that's newsworthy. Anyway, here's the bulk of the CNN report:

An Iraqi man accused of running down his daughter in Arizona because she had become "too Westernized" is being held on two counts of aggravated assault, police said Saturday.

Police in Peoria, Arizona, say Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, struck his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Faleh Almaleki, and her friend Amal Edan Khalaf with the Jeep Laredo he was driving in a parking lot in Peoria on October 20.

After the incident, Almaleki drove to Mexico and abandoned his vehicle in Nogales, Peoria police said.

He then made his way to Mexico City and boarded a plane to London, England. British authorities denied him entry into the country, and he was put on a plane back to the United States, police said.

The daughter's condition is dire while the friend will likely make it. This CNN report is very brief -- 10 sentences in all -- so it doesn't get into much depth. We learn, however, that the father tried to kill her because she was in violation of traditional Iraqi values. We get no word on what informed Mr. Almaleki's values. There is no mention of his religion, lack thereof or other relevant information. I mean, we may know that 97 percent of Iraqis are Muslim, but that information isn't shared in the CNN report.

Compare that with this ABC News report that begins with this headline:

Muslim Father Charged With Assault for Running Over 'Westernized' Daughter

So the father is not Christian, Yazidi, Mandaean, Jewish or Zoroastrian. Does that have anything to do with the attempted honor killing? Well this story is also very brief, but it raises the religion issue very lightly:

Honor Killings Unfairly Cast Negative Light on Islam

The notion of an honor killing -- Muslim men murdering female relatives for dishonoring the family by violating Islamic tenets -- made the news over the summer when 17-year-old Rifqa Bary ran away from her parents in Ohio and turned up in the Florida home of Christian pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz. Rafqa Barry claimed that her Muslim father had threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity.

Rifqa made tearful television appearance, crying on the Lorenzes shoulders, describing how she had to sneak around to attend church.

"They have to kill me because I'm a Christian. It's an honor [killing]. If they love me more than God, then they have to kill me," she told ABC's Orlando affiliate WFTV last month.

Blake Lorenz pointed to other honor killings, including the January 2008 murders of two Texas sisters who were believed to have been murdered by their Muslim father in a religion-fueld rage.

Well, while many honor killings are done by Muslims and most of the remaining take place in countries with strong Muslim culture, honor killings aren't necessarily Muslim. The practice predates Islam and can be found in other cultures as well. Further, this story seems to slightly confuse the difference between an honor killing and corporal punishment for apostasy.

Honor killings are done against women, usually, and for the crime of dressing the wrong way, alleged sexual indiscretion or refusal to marry a partner chosen by her family. They may or may not be perpetrated by and against Muslims. Killing for apostasy from Islam is just that -- punishment for conversion from Islam.

Too bad there's a media brownout on these stories. There are some super interesting angles to explore. What Islam has to say about honor killings -- both officially and in practice -- is precisely the type of story that I would like to see.

Please respect our Commenting Policy