“Patricia had told her that since they are Muslim that the daughter was only allowed to date other Muslims. Yaser had found out she went on a date with a non-Muslim and became very angry and threatened her with bodily harm.”
That’s an honor killing, folks. It has everything to do with Islamic cultural attitudes. Discussion here. This is what American Muslim advocacy groups ought to be talking about, if they had an ounce of integrity, and any interest at all in promoting sane and humanistic values among Muslims and all people. Their constant finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and evasion of responsibility has a human cost: how many more honor killings are we going to see among Muslims in America before they own up to the reality of the practice and begin to teach against it? How many more is it going to take before government and law enforcement officials begin to pressure them to do so?
The correct answer should be — why, no more. No more at all. Amina and Sarah Said should be alive today, and the idea that a man can walk around in Texas believing that it’s perfectly right for him to murder his daughters because they are dating non-Muslims — since, after all, it is perfectly fine to do that sort of thing back home in Egypt — is abominable. It is monstrous.
Where is Hooper? Where is Al-Marayati? Where is Hussein Ibish? Where are the feminists?
Of course, the Muslim spokesmen will say, This has nothing to do with Islam. Logged and noted, thank you, gentlemen. Now: what are you and your organizations doing, or planning to do, to try to prevent Muslims like Yaser Abdel Said from thinking that this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do on Islamic grounds — as, after all, seems to be the position of the Parliament in modern, moderate Jordan?
“Lewisville cab driver had been investigated for previous abuse,” by Tanya Eiserer, Scott Farwell and Scott Goldstein for The Dallas Morning News (thanks to all who sent this in):
Sarah Said’s final phone call rang into the Irving police dispatcher about 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day: “I’m dying, I’m dying, I’m dying …”
About an hour later, a man walked up to an orange cab parked at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. He discovered carnage — the bullet-shredded bodies of 17-year-old Sarah and 18-year-old Amina Said, honor students and athletes at Lewisville High School.
Almost immediately, police issued an arrest warrant for the girls’ father, 50-year-old Yaser Said, an Egyptian-born cab driver who family members said was given to fits of violence, threats and gun-waving rants about how Western culture was corrupting the chastity of his daughters.
In the week since their murders, friends and relatives on Patricia Said’s side of the family say they have been haunted by that final phone call, a cry for help that went unanswered for years. They say Mr. Said physically and emotionally abused his children.
In October 1998, when Amina and Sarah were 9 and 8 years old, they accused their father of sexual abuse.
The allegations were reported to the Hill County sheriff’s office, where the girls told a detective their father had been touching them inappropriately. Amina told authorities she had been penetrated at least once.
Their mother swore in an affidavit that the allegations were true.
In early January 1999, the two girls told authorities that they had lied about the allegations because they didn’t want to attend rural Covington schools and wanted to go live with their grandmother. A district judge later dropped the charges of aggravated sexual assault against Mr. Said.
George Burnett, a fire chief in the small town of Covington, visited the Saids’ homestead a few times when their cows got out. He said the girls “were sent home several times from school with lice problems and asked not to return until they got it straightened out.”
Mr. Said often espoused his version of traditional Middle Eastern values, prompting speculation the murders were “honor killings,” an ancient Arab tribal custom in which the man of the family kills women he believes have shamed the family. The practice is now widely repudiated.
In a brief phone call in which she declined to comment further, his wife, Patricia, angrily rejected the notion that Mr. Said’s Muslim religion or culture had anything to do with the murders.
Her son, Islam, 19, agreed.
“Why is it every time an Arab father kills a daughter, it’s an honor killing?” Islam said. “It didn’t have anything to do with that.” He declined to answer other questions.
Uh huh. Well, unfortunately, there is a great deal of evidence in this same article that that’s exactly what it is. Read on.
Mr. Said has not been arrested, and some family members suspect he may have fled to Egypt, which he visits each year.
By most accounts, the family did not regularly attend religious services, or practice daily Muslim prayer.
But cultural differences — especially divisions over gender roles — led to tension in the family.
Once, he shot out the tires on his wife’s car to keep her home. Another time, Mrs. Moggio said, he blocked her car in a driveway because he thought she was going to help her sister and children escape.
Years later, when Amina was a sophomore at Euless Trinity High School, a friend said she showed up at school with red welts across her arms and back. Another time, Amina confided that her father had kicked her in the face.
“He found notes from her boyfriend,” said a 17-year-old Trinity senior, who asked not to be identified. “Her lips were pretty much attached to her braces, but they wouldn’t take her to the doctor because her family feared her father would be taken to jail.”
She said the abuse continued and threats intensified.
“I remember her telling me that her dad told her he would take her back to Egypt and have her killed,” she said. “He said it’s OK to do that over there if you dishonor your family.”
Move to Lewisville
Eventually, friends and family members say, Mr. Said moved his family from Euless to Lewisville to break up his daughter and her boyfriend. Some Muslims believe that it can be religiously acceptable for Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women but that it is never acceptable for a Muslim woman to marry outside the faith.
Friends said the sisters suffered quietly through a life controlled by their father, a life in which social interaction with their peers was forbidden. One friend said Mr. Said installed spy software on the home computer and plotted with a relative to tap the phone lines.
Sarah never shared her address with her closest friends for fear of what her father might say or do if they came by the house, said Zohair Zaidi, a devout Muslim whom Sarah turned to in her quest to become more religious.
This is the fellow who showed up here not too long ago. It seems now that it was indeed he who came here, although he remains the only source for any inclination on the girls’ part to become more faithful Muslims — and the non-Muslim boyfriends don’t seem to have known about it either.
Still, Sarah knew her father would have disapproved of their friendship, primarily because Mr. Zaidi is male.
“She always used that term, ‘He would kill me, I would be dead,’ ” said Mr. Zaidi, the 18-year-old college freshman. She kept his phone number under a female name in her cellphone.
Justin Finn, an 18-year-old senior at Lewisville High School, said Amina told him her father walked into her bedroom with a gun about two years ago.
“He was basically threatening her and waving around the gun,” he said. “He was basically trying to send a message, ‘You do what I say or I’m going to do something to you.’ ”
Relatives say the girls kept much of their lives hidden from their father. Amina had been awarded a $20,000 scholarship for college. Sarah dreamed of a job in the medical profession.
“School was everything to them. That was their way out. They were active in sports. That’s what made them happy,” said the girls’ aunt, Jean Martinez.
Massoud Nasseri, owner of King Cab, has known Mr. Said for a number of years.
He described him as a good father and a decent man.
He said Muslim children who are born here or spend most of their lives here are “caught between a rock and a hard place.” They want to do what their parents want, but they also want to follow their friends.
“They always battle within themselves about what they need to do,” he said. “I call it the clash of the culture and that’s what it comes down to. The kids were born here and part of their blood is Muslim, part of their blood is Christian, and they are caught in between.”
By December, both of his daughters were dating, and tempers were boiling.
“Me mina and my mom r running away!” Sarah Said wrote to Mr. Zaidi in an instant message conversation, according to a transcript he saved. “My dad found out abt mina and is goin to kill us.”
Mr. Zaidi was concerned. He asked his friend whether her father had threatened harm.
“B4 he tld me that he was goin to put bullet thru her head…today he tld me to get used to my sis bc shes not goin to b w us lng,” she wrote.
Mr. Zaidi never knew where the Saids were going. Sarah was too afraid to tell him, he said.
On Christmas Day, Mrs. Said, her daughters and their boyfriends fled the state. They stopped at a relative’s house in Kansas and then rented an apartment under an assumed name in Tulsa.
Mr. Said had filed a missing persons report with Lewisville police on Dec. 26.
Mrs. Said called Lewisville police Dec. 27 to tell them she and her daughters were safe. The report reads:
“Patricia stated that she was not going to call back again, as she was in great fear of her life. Patricia said she is very fearful of her husband harming her and/or her children, which is the reason she left her husband. Patricia further advised she and her children, Sarah and Amina, are just fine, and are going to continue hiding from her husband.”
The next day an officer filed a reported recommending the case be closed, citing an interview with one of Mrs. Said’s relatives.
“Patricia had told her that since they are Muslim that the daughter was only allowed to date other Muslims. Yaser had found out she went on a date with a non-Muslim and became very angry and threatened her with bodily harm. This concerned Patricia because Yaser has been violent in the past and Patricia was afraid that Yaser would severely hurt their daughter. At that time Patricia decided it would be best to leave her husband and take their daughters and go into hiding.”
On New Year’s Eve, Mrs. Said and her daughters returned to Lewisville. Amina told her aunt that her mother lied to her, saying the trip was to put flowers on their grandmother’s grave. Mrs. Said told police she felt guilty about leaving her husband.
Sarah wore a brown sweatshirt with yellow puppies when she left with her dad to go to dinner on New Year’s Day. Amina had on a tan hooded jacket with fur trim, similar to one she’s wearing in a photo on her MySpace page. A headline on the page reads: “I don’t want to … become a memory.”
Later that night, a dispatcher at the Irving Police Department picked up a 911 cellphone call from Sarah. The police report reads: “Female kept saying she was dying over and over again.”