We are constantly told in the West that honor killing has nothing to do with Islam. So why don’t Islamic clerics agitate for stiffer penalties for honor killings? Well, because they are on the other side: a manual of Islamic law certified by Al-Azhar as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (‘Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2).
In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. In accord with this, in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”
Until the Islamic roots of the practice are discussed openly and human rights groups begin calling for reform, honor killings will continue in the Islamic world — and in Muslim communities in the West.
“Spree of honour killings in Jordan,” by Suha Philip Ma”ayeh for The National, July 11 :
AMMAN // Women’s activists in Jordan said they would step up their fight against so-called honour crimes after two women were killed on the same day, and a man jailed for shooting his raped sister had his sentence halved.
On Thursday, a 20-year-old man stabbed his older sister several times with a kitchen knife and then smashed her head with a rock, an official and reports said.
A criminal prosecutor working on the case said an autopsy was being carried out but the brother had confessed and had been taken into custody.
According to the prosecutor, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to talk to the press, the woman had spent the last three months in Juwaidah prison for women fearing her life was in danger.
“She had been living in difficult circumstances. Her parents separated 18 years ago. She had family problems and she stayed with her grandparents at her uncle’s house.”
But reports said the woman, a mother of one, had “disappeared” from her house a month ago and that police had found her with a man in an apartment and had taken her into custody.
The brother was called to collect her on Thursday, the prosecutor said, and they returned to the family home in an eastern Amman suburb.
“The brother went out for food and when he returned home, he said he found his sister at the door talking to a man,” the prosecutor said.
The brother confessed that he became enraged and stabbed her, according to the prosecutor.
Just hours earlier, a 34-year-old woman was stabbed to death 15 times by her younger brother in the Jordan Valley, Ehssan Salamat, the lead criminal prosecutor in Amman, said. Police told Agence France-Presse the man believed his sister was having an affair and was four weeks pregant.
“An investigation is under way and we are examining the samples,” Mr Salamat told The National.
Thursday”s deaths bring the number of women killed in the name of honour this year to 13. Last year, there were 17 such deaths.
Women’s activists have renewed their calls on parliament to tighten penalties for these crimes. Jordanian laws are often lenient towards men convicted of honour crimes. On Tuesday, a court in Amman halved the jail term of a man who shot dead his raped sister “in the name of honour”….