More from Phyllis Chesler on honor killings

Phyllis Chesler’s scholarly study of honor killings continues to be discussed.  I referred to it in a post in February, after the New York State beheading hit the news. Now here is an interview of Chesler by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review.  It begins:

Kathryn Jean Lopez: What exactly is an honor killing? And is it odd for there to be one in, say, New York State? 
Phyllis Chesler: The beheading in Buffalo, N.Y., is a hybrid case which involves some features of Western-style domestic violence and a Pakistani-Islamic method of murder. However, in 2004, in Scottsville, N.Y., a Turkish-Muslim woman was honor-murdered, and in 2008, in Henrietta, N.Y., a serious honor murder was attempted by an Afghan Muslim. However, honor killings usually take place in shame-and-honor societies, mainly in the Third World. In the West, such murders are mainly done by Muslims (it is a Muslim-on-Muslim crime), and to a much lesser extent, by Sikhs. Strangers are not usually honor-murdered; only daughters, wives, or sisters are. It is an intimate family crime, a premeditated one, with many warnings given. It is also a family collaboration. 

Chesler says that most Muslims deny the connection between Islam and honor killing. But 90 percent of honor killings in the west are done by Muslims, and the vast majority worldwide. In Muslim countries this kind of murder is dealt with very leniently by the state, if at all. And sometimes the response is bizarre:

More progressive countries, like Jordan, deal with the intractable problem of honor-related violence against women and honor killing by locking up the potential victims, often for as long as a decade.

And she continues:

Unlike traditional Western-style non-fatal domestic violence, or Western-style femicide, both of which are considered and prosecuted as crimes, honor killings are traditionally not frowned upon, and the men who restore their family’s honor are valorized. 

Muslim leaders invariably respond to honor killings by objecting to anyone implicating Islam in the practice. Lopez asked Chesler what a better response should be. Chesler says the leaders need to change their attitude toward honor killings and condemn it.

  Those who commit honor killings — like Yaser Said, who murdered his two daughters in Dallas — must not be sheltered or supported by their families or communities or helped to escape.  
… Muslim religious leaders should pledge to found shelters for battered Muslim women who are in danger of being honor-murdered. They must understand that the attempts to honor-kill a “disobedient” or “runaway” daughter or wife will never end until she is dead. Most will require the equivalent of a federal witness-protection program. What may work for non-immigrant and non-Muslim victims of domestic violence (not honor killing/femicide), may not necessarily work for Muslim girls and women. 

[And] the good Muslim leaders might start instructing youngsters against the tight control of girls and women and start shaming and shunning such behaviors in their midst. 

None of this can happen until Islam itself is reformed.

…the moderate, peaceful, and “good” Muslims need to really wrestle with the Koran and the Hadith. They must help bring 7th- and 8th-century holy documents into the 21st century as other religions have done, namely Judaism and Christianity. Denying that the Koran is barbaric, that it views infidels (Jews and Christians) as subhuman, and that it commands jihad and death to infidels will not help matters.

 Leaders within Islam worldwide should work to stop honor killings, says Chesler:

While American-Muslim groups argue, after the fact, that honor killings are pre-Islamic cultural relics, I say: A religion which boasts so many economically wealthy leaders and 1.5-plus billion followers should, by now, have been able to stamp out such pre-Islamic cultural behaviors.

Lopez asks Chesler where feminists stand on honor killings.

Chesler: The good news: I have been working with a number of people who oppose and expose honor killings: Nonie Darwish, Nancy Kobrin, Maryam Namazie, and Douglas Murray in the U.K., Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Andy Bostom, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, and others in the U.S. 
But what you are really asking me is
whether any of the academic, post-colonialist, postmodern feminists have come aboard, or whether public, Democratic-party feminists have done so. Well, I finally have one NOW feminist ally. Marcia Pappas, the president of NOW-NYS, has been speaking out about the beheading in Buffalo without fearing that what she says will lead to charges of “racism.” We will work together on this issue. I have gradual, increasing support behind the scenes from second-wave feminists, but they are fearful about their funding, careers, even their lives.

 And finally, what does Chesler hope to accomplish?

With all due respect to the Obama administration, we may not be able to abolish odious practices in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or in Gaza and the West Bank — but we ought to be able to keep them from happening here.  

My own opinion is that honor killing is so barbaric that we should cut off immigration from any country where it is practiced, with very few exceptions made, only for those who have shown they are reformers, by deeds as well as words. I mean, of course, Muslim immigration, since honor killing is now practiced all over western Europe. We don’t have to keep out Gordon Brown, Britain’s prime minister, though it would be a good thing if he took more notice of it than he has.

Update: Judge says ‘honour’ crimes have no place in English law. But here’s their dilemma.

The 41 year old father of three Muslim children placed with white foster parents was challenging being refused contact with them.

He also called for them to be placed with a Muslim family, but was refused permission to appeal against the decision of the High Court Family Division.

One of the children had been set on fire by her mother who also tried to burn down their house in an attempt to incriminate her sister-in-law. The sister-in-law was said to have “disgraced” the family because she fled after being beaten and her first child murdered by her husband, the mother’s brother.

The local authority acknowledged that placing the children with a white family was “culturally and religiously inappropriate.” Fortunately, they also acknowledged that if they were placed with a culturally and religiously similar family they may be (i.e. would be) found and harmed. This is a big step forward for a local authority. Some of these enlightened government officials have responded to girls’ complaints about violence in the home by sending a culturally and religiously similar social worker to investigate. You can imagine how effective that is. Very effective for the father; not so much for the girl. But they were probably just responding to the judge’s order. And how I love this judge:

Lord Justice Wall said the activities brought to light by the case had “nothing to do with any concept of honour known to English law”.

He described arson, domestic violence and revenge likely to result in abduction or death as criminal acts of “simply sordid, criminal behaviour.”

An order was made banning identification of the children, aged five, nine and 11, whose parents are both Muslims and originate from families in Pakistan.

This should all sound routine, but it looks like a big step away from accepting that Muslims can follow sharia law in family matters, and a big step toward asserting the authority of British law. Hurray for Lord Justice Wall!

Hat tip: Robert Spencer on Jihad Watch.

Japan proceeding with care in new refugee program

Some time ago we told you that Japan was opening its doors a tiny crack to third country resettlement of refugees and based on this article in the Asia Daily News it apparently is trying to anticipate problems ahead by making sure refugees learn Japanese and Japanese culture in at least  6 months of lessons, if not longer!

Although the government has said it will allow a very limited number of Myanmar refugees currently living in Thailand to resettle in Japan on a trial basis from fiscal 2010, details of the resettlement assistance program remain unclear.

One major complication when resettling such refugees is the relatively brief time allocated for Japanese language education–generally as little as six months.

We don’t even require that.   English lessons are available, but I don’t believe they are required at all.   Our experience has been that as soon as the men, especially the men, get jobs they quit going to any class.  Can you even imagine refugees being required to take lessons about our culture!   Actually I had an English teacher tell me that it was great when the men left class because it gave her a chance to tell the women that in America any money they earned was theirs!  And, that they didn’t have to wear that hijab either.  

Back to my story from Japan.

The government announced on Dec. 18 the Cabinet’s decision to extend on a trial basis the third-country resettlement scheme to Myanmar refugees in Thailand for three years from fiscal 2010, with a view to accepting 30 people each year.

A whole 30 refugees a year!   We took 18,139 Myanmar refugees in FY2008 alone.

Here is what the Japanese have in place already.

The Foundation for the Welfare and Education of Asian People, a government-funded nonprofit organization based in Minato Ward, Tokyo, has been undertaking educational activities for both convention and Indochinese refugees.

The foundation’s Refugee Assistance Headquarters (RHQ) offers refugees 572 45-minute Japanese language lessons as well as 120 “life in Japan” lessons, which also are 45 minutes each, with a view to having them acquire basic Japanese speaking and writing skills.

But, they fear it will not be adequate.

It seems virtually impossible for a refugee to acquire adequate Japanese language proficiency to cope with life in Japan simply by taking a six-month course.

We need to be doing this—-requiring at least 6 months of English and American culture lessons.

More on the Swedish riots: Muslims chanted about killing Jews

Ann posted on the riots in Malmo, Sweden, last week. Sweden has let in hundreds of thousands of refugees, who have changed Swedish society in fundamental ways. The article she linked to in the Jerusalem Post didn’t mention this, but Europe News reports:

…they were not just protesting against the Israeli tennis team’s participation in the Davis Cup match in the Baltiska Hallen sports facility. They, the mob of Muslim protesters, were shouting:

“Khaybar Khaybar ya Yahoud, Jaish Muhammad SAUF ya’ud”

Europe News provides a translation of a Swedish blogger, Samuel Danofsky, who explains:

A translation of the chant is:

[Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return]

It refers to an attack by Mohammad on a Jewish society in particular in the year 629, at the oasis of Khaybar, currently Saudi Arabia. The battle ended with the Mohammed’s Army killing 93 Jews and sent a large number into exile. You can read more about it here, here and here. I have sent a notification to JK with an invitation to look at whether this can be classed as an “incitement to hatred”. For I me, it feels that if in a public place a mood can be whipped up against the Jewish community with such words, then it can be considered a criminal offense.

We saw some of this kind of thing in this country at demonstrations during the recent war in Gaza (posts are here and here) with demonstrators shouting about Jews needing ovens, a sign “Death to all Juice” and other anti-Jewish sentiments.  I’d like to know just how widespread this attitude is among Muslims in the United States.  I’ve never seen a report of a survey that tried to find out. Pew did a  large survey of Muslims in 2007 and asked many questions, but none of them touched on Muslims’ attitude toward Jews.

500 British girls have genitals mutilated every year

Update March 25th:   I thought the British number was high, but here is an article from NYC that says our cases of female genital mutilation are much higher, and we are doing less about it.


That is a staggering number.    And, you can bet it’s happening here too in the secretive Somali Muslim communities in cities such as Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville, Boston, San Diego and so on.

The article, from The Times, tells us that British health authorities are promoting a campaign to reach Somalis and other immigrants from the Horn of Africa  to have the gruesome operation reversed.  It would be done free as part of their nationalized health care sytem.  Hat tip Blulitespecial.  Gosh, just think taxpayers here could be paying for similar operations in years ahead if Obama gets his way.

The NHS is to advertise free operations to reverse female circumcisions, with experts warning that each year more than 500 British girls have their genitals mutilated.

Despite having been outlawed in 1985, female circumcision is still practised in British African communities, in some cases on girls as young as 5. Police have been unable to bring a single prosecution even though they suspect that community elders are being flown from the Horn of Africa to carry out the procedures.

The advertisement will appear from next month on a Somali satellite TV station much viewed in Britain.

What is female genital mutilation?  We have loads of posts on the subject in our health issues category, but it’s important to remind readers again.

Female circumcision, which is done for various reasons, such as religious and cultural traditions, can cause severe health complications including infections and psychological problems. The procedure, predominantly carried out on girls aged between 5 and 12, can range from the removal of the clitoris to the removal of all the exterior parts of the vagina, which is then sewn up.

To understand it fully, I recommend you read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Infidel, in which she describes how the procedure traumatized her and her sister.

Agency for Culture Change Management UK?   I wonder when we will get one of those.

Sarah McCulloch, of the Agency for Culture Change Management UK, said that every year more than 500 British girls were having circumcisions. “A lot of them are done in the UK, but some still travel overseas,” she said.

She said that a code of silence in Britain’s African communities had allowed circumcisions to continue and prevented arrests. The unqualified female elders, known as “house doctors” because they act in secret in a family home, are flown into the country.

It is supposedly a cultural (cultural relativism is crap) and religious (Islamic) obligation which destroys the sex drive and helps assure men get their sexual pleasure but that their women then don’t stray too far.  But it does more than that, it is the worst form of child abuse wrapped in a veil of secrecy often dooming girls to a lifetime of pain and psychological trauma.

Ms McCulloch said that girls were brainwashed into believing circumcision to be a cultural, and, in some cases, religious obligation that should be kept secret. “It is something they simply do not discuss — if they do they’d be seen as betraying their family and their community and culture,” she said. “I know many girls who want to accuse their parents but can’t. They don’t want to take their parents to court.”

In the US, refugee resettlement workers know this is happening and I sure hope they are brave enough to blow the whistle, but I doubt it.

Books to read:    It’s a long time since we wrote about this, but I recommend especially to our female readers three books that I found very informative about Islam.  I call them ‘my women’s books,’  one is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s that I mentioned above.  The other two are Nonie Darwish, “Now they call me Infidel,” and Brigitte Gabriel, “Because they Hate: A survivor of Islamic Terror warns America.”

Hirsi Ali grew up in Africa, Darwish in Egypt, and Gabriel in Lebanon, so they give you a multi-country/continent view of Islam and what it means to be female in that male-dominated Islamic political and religious society.