Update 2/25/09: Phyllis Chesler has a great article at FrontPage Magazine summarizing reactions from Muslims and feminists about the beheading and the controversy over whether it was an honor killing or not. It is so packed with information that I can’t summarize it; read the whole thing.
My post on honor killing has attracted some notice from a feminist blog. Apparently some feminists are debunking the notion that there is any connection whatsoever between the beheading of a Muslim wife who filed for divorce against her husband, and Islam itself with its primitive notions of honor, while other feminists are using this beheading to draw attention to honor killings. I think Phyllis Chesler’s scholarly article, from which I took the chart in my honor killing post, is especially valuable in distinguishing honor killing from the usual domestic abuse. (This is not to minimize the problem of domestic abuse, which the feminists claim we are doing when we draw attention to honor killings.)
The same division is seen among Muslims. Many are shocked that anyone would link this beheading to Islam. Others are speaking out about the problem, as I wrote here.
This particular beheading case shares many characteristics with regular domestic violence — abusive men of many ethnic groups seem to feel their honor threatened when their mate leaves, or threatens to leave. The fact that the husband turned himself in to the police is interesting — he seems to have been remorseful, something that is not characteristic of honor killings, which are sanctioned by the community.
It is that sanctioning by the community — the Islamic community — that has caused some Muslims to speak out. There is no sanction for domestic violence in mainstream American culture (despite the strenuous efforts of some feminists to claim otherwise). There will, unfortunately, always be abusive men, and they need to be stopped both by law and by culture. It appears that in some cases Islamic culture overrules American law, and changing that has to be initiated by Muslims themselves.
Update 2/27/09: See my post, Beheader says headless wife can’t reach paradise for evidence linking the killing to Islam and honor killing.