For what may be the first time ever, a mainstream media outlet discusses the phenomenon of Islamic honor killings with a modicum of accuracy: “Muslim unrest hits US homes,” by Maureen Callahan for the New York Post, November 1:
In what may be the first recorded instance of a Muslim wife attempting to murder her husband for not being pious enough, a Staten Island woman was charged this week with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Rabia Sarwar, a 37-year-old Muslim, said she did it because her husband, a 41-year-old Pakistani native, enjoyed booze and pork and wanted her to dress in revealing clothes. (She held fabric over her face and threw a shawl over her head before leaving court on Thursday.)
While the Sarwar case is sensational by dint of the role-reversal and the method of attempted murder (throat-slitting), it’s also pedestrian: Over the past two years, there have been about a dozen attempted or successful honor killings committed in the US.
Last week in Arizona, an Iraqi-born man tried to kill his 20-year-old daughter because she wanted out of her arranged marriage; he escaped.
In July, a 17-year-old named Rifqa Bary ran away from home because, she said, her Muslim family would literally kill her for converting to Christianity. (She has been ordered by a Florida court to return to her home state of Ohio, where she will appear before another judge.)
So: Why is there such a recent spate of honor killings in America? What does it mean when a woman tries to exact the same vengeance that’s been wreaked upon her gender by men for centuries?
“This is not a reverse honor-killing — it’s martyrdom,” says Islamic apostate and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, herself the target of death threats. “It’s a ticket for heaven for her, to clear her books. The only exception that’s made for a wife or daughter to disobey her husband or father is if he forces her to do something that’s un-Islamic. This is a message to other Muslims: ‘This man is defying God. What am I supposed to do?'”
“The vast majority of honor killings do appear to be cases where there is some attempt to violate or leave [Muslim] cultural norms,” says David Bryan Cook, associate professor of religious studies at Rice University. “They’ve been going on in the US and Britain for a number of years, but in the recent past they’ve gotten a lot more publicity.”…
Some believe that the sheer vastness of the US has kept such incidents largely off the radar. “We’ve not been seeing it yet because our country’s so big,” says Amil Imani, who was born in Iran but raised in the US, and is the founder of Former Muslims United.
He points to the recent killing of a radical imam in Michigan, who hoped to carve out a separate Islamist state in the Midwest, as evidence that America has more to worry about than it may be aware. “Look at what is going on in England, which is almost identical to our culture,” he says. “Stealth jihad is happening in America before our eyes.”
Does Hirsi agree with this assessment?
“Oh yes, oh yes,” she says.
“Believe me. Yes. The kind of American Muslim you’re seeing now is changing — not because America is changing, but because the world is. Someone from Pakistan is coming here not for freedom, but to escape a horrible situation. [Once here], they are being radicalized.”
Imani also believes that the fear and loathing of the West tends to be a generational thing; kids born and raised in America by Muslim immigrants tend to reject such orthodoxy, while older Muslims embrace it.
“In the privacy of their home, Muslim parents will call every American woman a prostitute, every man corrupt,” Imani says. “People who are 20 and over, who have lived in Muslim countries — they cannot handle American culture. This case is very new, very rare. But you haven’t seen anything yet.”
No doubt about that.