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The Death of a Muslim Woman
March 3, 2005 5:58 AM   Subscribe

The Death of a Muslim Woman In many cases, fathers -- and sometimes even mothers -- single out their youngest son to do the killing, Boehmecke said, "because they know minors will get lighter sentences from German judges."
posted by trharlan (56 comments total)

 
Interesting that it's called "honor killing" - how is KILLING YOUR FUCKING SISTER anything but a goddamned disgrace? I this just machismo wrapped in a religious shell? Why on earth would a family go to another country yet expect to not, at least somewhat, adopt the new country's ways? I note that one woman was killed by her brothers by beating her with hockey sticks...I'm pretty sure *those* aren't found back home. Sorry, I'm babbling. This turns my stomach.
posted by notsnot at 6:19 AM on March 3, 2005


"Honor" Killing
posted by dhoyt at 6:25 AM on March 3, 2005


A similar incident happened in BC in 2003 in a Sihk family. That these women die because they adopted another culture is extraordinarily sad.
posted by fossil_human at 6:32 AM on March 3, 2005


This is a big issue in the UK at the moment too. They have reopened investigations into a lot of cases, including many that were originally put down to suicide. They have also really clamped down on forced marriages and on families taking their children abroad to marry.

It's incredibly sad for these women, even the ones that aren't physically threatened are rejected by their families. Insisting on "religious tolerance" from others is pretty meaningless if you won't extend it to the members of your own family.
posted by fshgrl at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2005


This article is very intense. As someone who would like to preserve the rights of people to live by the moral/religious code that they adhere to, I have a hard time reconciling that kind of liberality with actions like these. I hate to condemn groups based on thier religion, but it's hard not to have that reaction here, hard not to feel as if this type of insular fundamentalist Islam is incompatible with Western civilization. Even short of killings, this paragraph was stunningly disturbing:

The study showed that 49 percent of Turkish women said they had experienced physical or sexual violence in their marriage. One fourth of those married to Turkish husbands said they met their grooms on their wedding day. Half said they were pressured to marry partners selected by relatives and 17 percent felt forced into such partnerships.

On the other hand, violence against women is not only prevalent, but is epidemic, in the US.

Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. –Commonwealth Fund survey, 1998
etc. etc.

This link is not meant to excuse the Turkish men, or to demonize the US, or anything along those lines. Rather, I think that the danger in reading an article like the one in the FPP is that it makes exotic something which is actually prosaic, as sad and devastating as that is.
posted by OmieWise at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2005


As someone who would like to preserve the rights of people to live by the moral/religious code that they adhere to, I have a hard time reconciling that kind of liberality with actions like these.

I think the key words there are that "they adhere to". These women are not given a choice so I don't have a conflict with stamping out this particular cultural practice or any activities related to it. Personally I'm damn glad I'm not forced to adhere to 1940s Catholic "morality". Thanks Grandma!
posted by fshgrl at 6:45 AM on March 3, 2005


"The Whore Lived Like a German"

Then move the fuck out of Germany. Any non-westerner wanting to reside in a western country must adopt the culture and mores of that country. Period. Many European countries are now powder kegs because they have been too polite about the influx of population groups unwilling to do so.

By all means, bring your music, your cook books, your colorful native garb. However, if your traditions traditions of clitorectomies, beheading gays and throwing acid in your woman's face are too near and dear to give up, then stay the hell out.

Omiewise, I too hate to condemn groups based on thier religion, but I'm quite happy to if a central tenet of those practicing it is to treat their women like chattel.
posted by Scoo at 6:54 AM on March 3, 2005


It always boils down to coercion and consent, issues that have to be addressed in any society that believes in protecting the innocent. In a free society all religions should be free to practice as they wish, until they cross the line of coercing their members through violence or intimidation. Sadly, too many religions (and I'll include the more virulent strains of Christianity here) have made coercion, especially of women, a central tenet of their beliefs, no matter that it makes a mockery of what they claim to believe in.

Religion that is forced on its followers can never be genuine, and doesn't deserve protection. There should always be an exit for those who wish to use it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2005


Many European countries are now powder kegs because they have been too polite about the influx of population groups unwilling to do so.

Netherlands, for one.

"Theo and the Politically Correct Tyranny":
"With a number of fanatics who refuse to condemn the attacks in Madrid, who compare homosexuals to pigs, it's a bit strange - even in a politically correct tyranny like the Netherlands - that I'm criticized when I say something in reply."

Leon de Winter:
This difference highlights what many in the Netherlands see as an enormous problem with the fundamentalist parts of Arab-Islamic cultures: an inability to view the world according to abstract principles, to transcend the literally militant passages of sacred texts. To some, the Koran to this day offers no prospect of a free interpretation, or a tolerant one, that can exist alongside the free speech of a liberal society.

In the heyday of their multicultural utopia, the Dutch political and intellectual elites believed that radical Muslims and radical libertarians could exist peacefully together in the same society. In recent years it has become clear that such a belief was an illusion, although the politically correct media long tried to avoid the whole subject.

Mr. Fortuyn, in his outspoken political career, broke the taboos surrounding the problems of immigration and paid with his life. Mr. Van Gogh paid the same price for a provocation that, had it been directed at Christianity rather than Islam, would have hardly raised an eyebrow.

posted by dhoyt at 7:20 AM on March 3, 2005


It's not a question of condemning people for their religion, it's a question of condemning them for their attitude, which is fundamentalist and fascistic. Most religions, Christianity included, and even ideologies, suffer from these types of absolutists who are at war with modernity itself.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 7:22 AM on March 3, 2005


Just to be clear, I do, in fact, condemn these people. Rev. M perhaps puts my position best. My own personal issue is that whenever I read something like this my initial reaction is to feel as if it would be wrong to condemn it, that it would somehow violate other ideals I hold dear to do so. I overcome that, though. It is just an intial reaction.
posted by OmieWise at 7:32 AM on March 3, 2005


I ask this as an atheist, but:

I've noticed that when Christianity is being ridiculed to oblivian in certain MeFi threads—often for trivialities—no one steps in to say, "Actually these attitudes are universal in world religions, even Islam". Yet whenever the topic is a particularly harsh, difficult-to-confront aspect of fundamentalist Islam, the reaction is always: "This kind of thing is everywhere. It applies to absolutists in every religion. Let's not forget to keep US/Christianity/Bush in perspective, eh?"

How come?
posted by dhoyt at 7:34 AM on March 3, 2005


On preview: OmieWise, you commented too fast. You partially answered my question ;)
posted by dhoyt at 7:37 AM on March 3, 2005


How come?
posted by dhoyt at 10:34 AM EST on March 3 [!]
Easy, from most MeFi-users' perspective, muslims are the 'others', so they're likely to be stereotyped anyway.

Being critical about those who surround you and tolerant of 'others' = useful attitude.
posted by Firas at 7:52 AM on March 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


It's an excellent article, on a disturbing issue. But I feel there's often an edge of cultural propagandism to discussions of "honor killing."

Omiewise makes a good point, and one I constantly have to remind myself about when it comes to the honor killing issue. We (westerners/europeans) MAY be overstating the scope of the problem by picking out a few cases, because we are looking for screwed up things in Muslim culture.

Read, for example, about halfway through this article, the discussion of Texas-style honor killing. American juries and judges are inclined to give much lighter sentences to men who kill their cheating wives than for other types of murder. Is American (Christian/European) culture less susceptible to these brutal tribal impulses than muslim culture? Perhaps, but it is not absent here, either.

I am not denying that these things happen. They clearly do. But to what extent are we using anecdotal evidence (from the article -- "Precise statistics on how many women die every year in such honor killings are hard to come by...)" -- to make broad judgements?
posted by jackbrown at 7:53 AM on March 3, 2005


How come?

We're all waiting for you to do it.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2005


Basically what Firas said, dhoyt. For people of a liberal bent, I think it is natural to want to comfort the afflicted (in this case a minority within our own nations who often get blamed as a group for Sept. 11) and afflict the comfortable (the Christians, who have a fair amount of power in our culture). You know, protect the underdog, fuck the powerful.
posted by dame at 7:58 AM on March 3, 2005


It's not a question of condemning people for their religion, it's a question of condemning them for their attitude, which is fundamentalist and fascistic.

But the question becomes: What, specifically, do you do to prevent these sort of "honor killings?"

Though I opposed the Iraq war I do concede that this strain of Muslim fundamentalist thinking is an absolute pox and needs to be eradicated - but how do you do that? Because it would seem that secular inroads only serve to make such people more dangerous; and to overreact and attribute this attitude to Islam in general is equally dangerous. But I don't see a lot of pragmatic choices in between.
posted by kgasmart at 8:23 AM on March 3, 2005


Easy, from most MeFi-users' perspective, muslims are the 'others', so they're likely to be stereotyped anyway.

I can certainly appreciate that perspective much of the time, but in this case it only raises more questions.

What happens when the time comes (post 9/11, say) to take a cold, sober look at how corrupt & threatening radical factions of The Other Culture may be? Wouldn't it take more guts—not less—to throw light on the problem, even if it means living in self-imposed obscurity?

What does it take to cross those lines of political correctness to identify a real problem, like what's going on in the Netherlands now?

Just because we're all the way across the Atlantic, we shouldn't sit on our hands out of 'cultural sensitivity' concerns, should we?
posted by dhoyt at 8:26 AM on March 3, 2005


But the question becomes: What, specifically, do you do to prevent these sort of "honor killings?"

Well, one thing you might do is to have more battered women's programs available, to educate immigrant communities about these programs, and to offer relocation for young women who feel threatened.
posted by unreason at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2005


"The Whore Lived Like a German"

Then move the fuck out of Germany. Any non-westerner wanting to reside in a western country must adopt the culture and mores of that country. Period.


I had a long talk with a German recently about the "Turk Problem," and what he said really interested me. He said that Turkey is cracking down on religion really hard (the veil is now illegal to wear in the streets), in an effort to strengthen their secular state's cohesiveness and fend off fundamentalism.

As a result, the most hardcore fundamentalist Muslims are moving to Germany, a completely free society, where they can be as religious as they wanna be. Problem is that giant, completely insular communities of fundamentalist Muslim Turks are forming in Germany, and it has led to a rise in tension between them and everyone else. Apparently a thousand "Chinatowns" have bloomed - ghettos packed with Muslim Turks who shop only at their own stores, attend only their own schools , and even after 2 or 3 generations, may not speak a single word of German.

The isolationism of these communities is the main issue, as he explained it: a complete disinterest in integration, and a lack of interest in non-Turk Germans. This just doesn't contribute to a pluralistic society. Add in the ordinary racist tensions that exist more or less everywhere, plus fundamendalists performing honor killings like this with impunity, and you've got a serious cultural problem brewing.

I'm paraphrasing him, so if this perspective disgusts you, don't take it out on me. But I found it an interesting conundrum that Turks are moving to Germany specifically so that they can be more die-hard-crazy Islamic.
posted by scarabic at 8:32 AM on March 3, 2005


Just because we're all the way across the Atlantic, we shouldn't sit on our hands out of 'cultural sensitivity' concerns, should we?

Many Europeans consider the death penalty in the United States to be barbaric. Would you be supportive of them working to change that (say, through trade sanctions), or would you be more likely to suggest they mind their own business?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:32 AM on March 3, 2005


Freedom of religion is awesome right up until it infringes upon other freedoms. That's what the rule of law and civilization are all about. These people should go to jail. Period. Any competent Judge should realize that the child is coerced into killing, and therefore the adults are just as responsible for the child and should be imprisoned.

Dhoyt: Yes, but part of throwing light on the problem is trying to understand it. Fighting something that is alien, and misunderstood is highly problematic. Most societies have had to come to terms with self destructive instincts, like slavery, racism, mysogeny etc. Yes, what happened in this case is bad, and very wrong, but knowing that and expressing that isn't enough. You can't just declare Islam to be wrong, and expect that to solve the problem. We have systems in place to deal with this. Laws. These people should go to jail. But, that isn't to say, we can't look at it and ask, why? how? are there parrellels in our culture? How did we manage to overcome them?
posted by Freen at 8:40 AM on March 3, 2005


dame and Firas,
That may be true to a point, but it eventually crosses over into hypocrisy. Poor Christians in some rural town aren't "The Man", yet they are routinely mocked and subject to ridicule here and elsewhere, while condemnations of actions by other groups always must be tempered with perspective. Is that really constructive? Is that really helping anyone, or even keeping things in "perspective"? It comes across as almost exclusively targeting one group and excusing others. What's wrong with also saying, "This kind of thing happens everywhere?" when it comes to things Christians do? Nothing, but you rarely hear it, and I agree with dhoyt that it's odd. If this thread were about some Christian family doing this, this thread would already have 100+ posts decrying the evils of Christianity and religion in general.

jackbrown
Please, spare us. Yes, it would be silly to assume that every Muslim fully supports and would engage in honor killings, but no one is saying that. What is being said is that it is part of the culture of some nations, and supported by certain extreme, fundamentalist branches of Islam. It is completely different from the sort of crime of passion you mention. This paragraph from your article (which is an odd example, since it seems to be about the hypocrisy of the lack of public condemnation for the light treatment of a woman who killed in passion) sums it up:

"A certain measure of sympathy for people who commit crimes of passion is understandable. Many feminists have attributed this sympathy to the underlying belief that men "own" women; but they are wrong. Most of us can relate to feelings of anger, loss and betrayal caused by infidelity or rejection—in a way we cannot relate to the cold-blooded motives of someone who kills for greed. But we should never allow this emotional understanding to overshadow the horror of what happened to the victims."

Western countries do have a tradition of sometimes allowing lighter sentences in these situations, but this is radically different from the ingrained cultural support and expectation in honor killings. As that paragraph notes, we can relate to the anger of a man who comes home from work, finds his wife cheating, and shoots her. It would be utterly bizarre to us if that man gathered his children together after catching her and had his son shoot her.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:41 AM on March 3, 2005


Would you be supportive of them working to change that

Absolutely. I'd give credit to any country/continent that helped us abolish capital punishment. But I'm biased because I've never supported it anyway. That's just me. Some might take offense.

But that doesn't really address the questions, re: fundamentalist Islam in Europe.
posted by dhoyt at 8:47 AM on March 3, 2005


Scarabic, I got no beef with you, sounds like your German was being pretty honest. I do think that many of the host countries are kind of screwed at this point. We need to stop mincing words about this elephant in the room.
posted by Scoo at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2005


*loves America's Hispanic immigrants*
posted by LarryC at 9:09 AM on March 3, 2005


dhoyt-
I'm not sure that anyone is excusing the actions in the article, or the general problem, here in this thread.

The question about why Christianity always comes up is a good one, but, I think, easily answered. We live in a country where Christianity is the norm, where many of our politicians are fundamentalist Christians, and where many of these same politicians are quick to deride Islam as barbaric. Fundamentalist Christianity pisses me off in a different way that fundamentalist Islam, which also pisses me off and scares me, because adherents in this country are eager to control my life under the rubric of Christianity. When the schools my kids go to might not be allowed to teach evolution, when my job (I work in an HIV clinic) is made worse and my patients more numerous by abstinence only sex education, when my President calls for a crusade, and when a huge number of Christians support a discriminatory Constitutional amendment, it tends to piss me off. It also makes me want to remind people of what passes for Enlightenment Western thought in the USA when they start to talk about other cultures. Which is, of course, not to suggest that we should not work to decry and change the impacts of fundamentalist Islam.

Sangermaine-Call me when people start getting locked up because of thier Christian beliefs. Prejudice is bad, but prejudice with power is really bad; and luckily for them, those who believe in Christ are in power in the USA.
posted by OmieWise at 9:15 AM on March 3, 2005


Sangermaine: I was answering dhoyt's question about why the impulse arises. Yes, it is better to avoid hypocrisy by recognizing that impulse and tempering it as appropriate--understanding our impulses and then directing them is what makes humans cool. But he asked why it happened and I told him.

However, I think you are not-quite-correct in your interpretation here: Poor Christians in some rural town aren't "The Man", yet they are routinely mocked and subject to ridicule here and elsewhere.

As individuals, they are not terribly powerful. But as a group, they have far more say over this country's direction and prejudices than Muslims or, say, Brooklyn-dwelling agnostics. So from where I stand, fundamentalist Christians (many of whom live in exurbs, not rural areas) are a greater threat to my quality of life than fundamentalist Muslims.

And scarabic, thanks for that. It's definitely an interesting wrinkle.
posted by dame at 9:19 AM on March 3, 2005


In 1995, (only year I could find good stats), approximately 1,200 women were murdered by their husbands/boyfriends/male family members in America.

There are no numbers on race/religion for those numbers, but as far as I know, honor killing is not very common in America.

Honor killing is surely a serious problem and one that is worth attacking because it seems like something which can be broken by modernity-- and I think it's valiant to work towards that and applaud those who hold this disgusting part of a culture up to the light.

On the other hand, it's important to remember that the bizarre (to Western eyes) aspects of the circumstances of the murder does not excuse the underlying violence of the act-- and violence is universal. This goes for those who would say that the violence is excused because its "part of the culture" and those who would make it seem more common, prevelant, and strange, also because of the culture.
posted by chaz at 9:26 AM on March 3, 2005


For people of a liberal bent, I think it is natural to want to comfort the afflicted (in this case a minority within our own nations who often get blamed as a group for Sept. 11) and afflict the comfortable (the Christians, who have a fair amount of power in our culture). You know, protect the underdog, fuck the powerful

As a life long liberal I have to say that attitude annoys the hell out of me. My supposed "desire to care for the afflicted" has nothing to do with people being a minority and everything to do with them being shot or beaten to death with hockey sticks.

Being a minority is a function of where you live, being a murderer of uppity women is not. Conforming to Islam is the excuse here not the reason. Honor killings are plenty prevalent in Hindu families too and similar crimes have happened in the US in Mormon communities when girls have attempted to avoid arranged marraiges. Fundamentalist communities of all kinds isolate themselves for a reason.
posted by fshgrl at 9:36 AM on March 3, 2005


Are the people who engage in these so-called "honor killings" actually saying that it is better to have cold-blooded murderers in the family than a daughter who doesn't wish to "go Muslim"?

That is such an incredibly stupid statement that those who earnestly hold these views must somehow be impervious to reason. I guess that's why I'm not a faith-based kind of guy.
posted by clevershark at 9:50 AM on March 3, 2005


Back to the article, can I gently interject that this is a complex problem.


It can be very, very hard to have to straddle two cultures the way that so many people in this situation have to.

The newer generations have to conform to two sets of cultural norms, two dress codes, eating habits, forms of address, attire, prayer, even the manner of repose etc. etc. etc.


What you are seeing here is one culture leaking or, more evocatively, 'bleeding' into another.

Now, try looking at it from the point of view of the immigrants parents or grandparents: For them, they are faced with the constant encroachment of western 'culture' at every turn. It is everywhere - coming out of the TV, on the walls, on the radio, everywhere! They fear that they are losing their children to this thing.

I fear that in many ways these women are being almost sacrificed: The men cannot hit back at the hydra that attacks them and a blow against westernised women is a blow against western culture by proxy (Also a lot of sexual baggage that I don't want to labour over).

I guess it would be kind of analogous to some militant attacking a local police station in their village because they lack the ability to go to the US and 'strike at the source of the problem'.

( I say US here, but the fons et origo of your problem could just as well be Moscow or London or Tel Aviv).
I don't know if I'm being clear. I just mean to say that there is more to this than meets the eye.
posted by fingerbang at 10:08 AM on March 3, 2005


This is a tragedy. We must no longer tolerate this kind of behaviour. It is true that other fundamentalist communities murder ‘their’ women for perceived transgressive behaviour, but the prevalence of this practice of ‘honour’ killings and mutilation of women is most common in certain types of very conservative Muslim societies. Nicholas D. Kristof has done some good writing about the women in Afghanistan who are beaten to the point of near death for wanting an education and refusing to marry a cousin they have never met.

People of every political stripe have to realise that relativism has its limits, and those limits are enslavement and suffering. The plight of women in these societies is morally equivalent to the slave trade and most people are asleep about it or (on the left) in fear of speaking out because of post-colonial guilt and a brain-dead misinterpretation of multiculturalism. Or else it is used as a brief fig leaf to justify other kinds of prejudice or strategic desires (on the right). It is especially shocking when self-proclaimed feminists in the British anti-war left sometimes march arm in arm with those who want to impose Sharia across the planet (stoning ‘adulteresses’ etc) without blinking.

We have cases of this in the UK – basically it is a consequence of young people trying to share the experiences and values of the societies in which they were born running up against medieval, theocratic value systems that sanction violence against transgression.

Not all interpretations of Islam have rejected pluralism and tolerance, but many today do. It’s not prejudice or coded racism – its an awful fact. London’s ‘left leaning’ Mayor Ken Livingstone recently welcomed a Imam who has called openly for the stoning of trangressive women, the mass murder of gays and the glory of suicide bombing. Ken has long been an advocate of the rights of gays and women, yet this is soon forgotten in the name of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is mutual tolerance and celebration of difference in a climate of equal opportunity. It is not licence to practice or advocate violent medieval retribution on those who offend particular value systems.

We must hope that more reasonable voices inside Islam such as Irshad Manji's prevail one day – but we cannot deny the problem. Tolerance cannot tolerate violent, totalising intolerance if it is to have any meaning at all.
posted by The Salaryman at 10:10 AM on March 3, 2005


Uh, fshgrl, my response was about why people like to point out that Christians do horrible things too. It has nothing to do with thinking killing women is okay just because someone in a minority does it. That is, when Islam is mentioned, people bring up Christianity to prove that murderous assholes are not confined to any religion. They do this because given the position of Muslims in our society, some people are rather inclined to blame the problem on Islam rather than assholishness. Or, to put it another way, some of us prefer not to compound the wrong of murder with the wrongs of prejudice and xenophobia.

Anyway, we've had this argument before. So what do people think about what scarabic brought up, the paradox of people moving to freer nations so that they can be fundamentalist dementos? What do you do in that case? It seems to me that European nations could do a better job at being more open to a type of assimililation that doesn't involve the total rejection of one's native culture, but what do you do about people who don't want to assimilate at all? I mean, here in the U.S., we have fundamentalist sects like Hasidim who don't take part in mainstream culture but seem not be killing people--what makes that different?
posted by dame at 10:15 AM on March 3, 2005


Well said, Salaryman.

Now, try looking at it from the point of view of the immigrants parents or grandparents: For them, they are faced with the constant encroachment of western 'culture' at every turn. It is everywhere - coming out of the TV, on the walls, on the radio, everywhere! They fear that they are losing their children to this thing.

But the rub, fingerman, is that by moving to a Westernized country, a conservative immigrant virtually ensures that certain temptations he might want kept out are going to be continually dangled; that's what makes the West the West, right? You do lose your children to this "thing"; that's the way it works. And I can't understand how anyone can realistically expect otherwise.
posted by kgasmart at 10:19 AM on March 3, 2005


So what do people think about what scarabic brought up, the paradox of people moving to freer nations so that they can be fundamentalist dementos?
posted by dame at 10:15 AM PST on March 3 [!]

Isn't that why the Pilgrims came to the New World...?

Immigrants must be subject to the same laws any other resident or citizen is subject to. No more, no less. The notion of forced cultural "assimilation" as a way of proving the worthiness of certain minority groups is repugnant to the values of an open society. After all, native-born citizens or immigrants of the same race/religion of the native population are never scrutinized for their loyalty or cultural correctness in the same way. Once we've allowed a group of people in, we have no business regulating their culture any differently than we regulate anyone else's.
posted by insideout at 10:27 AM on March 3, 2005


dame the part of your post I objected to was that you assumed I would see the fact that someone was in a minority or not as any kind of factor in, you know, anything they did much less murder.

Also the bit about protecting the underdog and fuck the powerful rubs me completely the wrong way. That's not how I look at the world at all and I think the vast majority of my "liberal" friends would agree with me.
posted by fshgrl at 10:28 AM on March 3, 2005


Well, fshgrl, the person being a minority has nothing to do with that you think of that person, but it does have to do with how people interpret the event, i.e., some people will say, "See how that minority did that? It's because his culture it bad and inferior to ours," instead of saying, "Wow that guy is an asshole. How do we keep assholes who happen to use religous (not merely Muslim) justifications from murdering women? Is is the same or different from how we try to keep nonreligous misogynist assholes from murdering women." Do you see the difference?

And here's a hint, if your friends aren't about protecting minority rights, then they aren't really liberals* and you should keep those scare quotes.

*Please note that not all liberals agree on the best way to protect minority rights.
posted by dame at 10:50 AM on March 3, 2005


dame since quite a lot of people are both liberal and Christian I'm not sure that "afflicting the Christians" is real high on their agendas. I find it annoying when liberals are portrayed as being out to subvert society. Speak for yourself yo.
posted by fshgrl at 11:17 AM on March 3, 2005


I was explaing to dhoyt why some liberals bring up fundamentalist Christianity in cases such as these, or can't you read? You can think it's wrong for them to bring it up, but that doesn't make my explanation as to why some people do so incorrect.

As for the broader point, progressive liberalism (which is what I am talking about--and yes, I didn't make that totally clear, though I thought it would be from context) *is* about subverting society to the extent that change is inherently subversive. I think the term you are looking for to describe yourself and your sort of liberalism, would be "namby pamby," or perhaps Clintonian or centrist. And that sort of liberal wouldn't bring up fundamentalist Christianity and is thereby, by definition, excluded from the answer I gave dhoyt as to why someone would bring it up. Kay?
posted by dame at 12:26 PM on March 3, 2005


I don't understand why the simplest response isn't the right one in cases like these: i.e.: you commit murder or incite others to commit murder, you are prosecuted and sent to jail. Of course all of these cultural issues are important and interesting but to me they're all sort of extrinsic to the main question. Why, if these families are known to have asked their younger sons to murder their sisters, aren't the older generations prosecuted? I'm not familiar with German law but presume they have some sort of accessory or incitement to murder statute.

After the murderers go to jail, then everyone can have the fun debates about religious freedom versus liberalism, right?
posted by miss tea at 12:53 PM on March 3, 2005


Very Solomonic of you, miss tea.

Clearly you need to read Clash of Civilizations. The very future of Western Culture is at stake.
posted by felix betachat at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2005


Felix, I am not sure what your point is. I'm not saying that there aren't important and interesting issues when cultures are blended, and some of them have been brought up in this thread. I just found it interesting and somewhat astounding that nobody responded specifically to the FPP's quote:

In many cases, fathers -- and sometimes even mothers -- single out their youngest son to do the killing, Boehmecke said, "because they know minors will get lighter sentences from German judges."

Amidst a discussion of the definition of liberalism and debates over why metafites always bring up Christian evangelicals when Muslims act like asshole fundamentalists, I thought it might be helpful to remember that Germany ostensibly is still governed by the rule of law, which outlaws murder. Sorry that somehow offended you.
posted by miss tea at 2:14 PM on March 3, 2005


I am curious as to why families and Imam's aren't tried aggressively as accessories to these murders. Perhaps I am naive, but I can't believe that publicizing these heinous crimes wouldn't bring about reactions from a significant majority of Muslims and Hindus in Europe and North America.

Fundamentalists of all stripes try to control women and sexuality. I can't help but think we are abandoning the weakest members of Islamic and fundamentalist Christian societies by not drawing attention to the plight of women, particularly pregnant women, and sexual minorities both through the legal system and media.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 2:21 PM on March 3, 2005


After the murderers go to jail, then everyone can have the fun debates about religious freedom versus liberalism, right?
miss tea, the problem with that is that it treats the symptoms, not the disease. Of course the murderers are going to arrested, and you are right in saying the elders who make them do it should go with them. But that doesn't stop them from happening again. We aren't talking about cultural issues because they are fun, but because these sorts of crimes seem to be linked with this culture or certain variations of it. The "main question" is not what to do with the people who have committed or caused the killing, it's "How can we stop people from killing women who have 'sinned' out of a feeling of religious/cultural duty to do so?"
posted by Sangermaine at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2005


miss tea-

I was being ironic, actually. I thought your pellucid comment neatly brought things back into perspective.
posted by felix betachat at 2:25 PM on March 3, 2005


> I am curious as to why families and Imam's aren't tried aggressively as
> accessories to these murders.

Why, because Germans of the current generation have gone so far in the opposite direction from their Sieg-Heil parents that they're now helpless wussies. See Dr. Spock on over-approach and over-withdrawal. "What a girly-man, he squats to pee" used to be a bad joke. Now it's die Recht. So you needn't expect any response more aggressive than distraught hand-wringing in the immediate future. (Of course, that was also the state of the Nederlanders a few months back and they're now starting to grow up, so there's eine schwache Hoffnung for the future.)
posted by jfuller at 4:07 PM on March 3, 2005


Felix- Ah, I see. Sorry, I just didn't get it!

Sangermaine- My point was more of a functional one-- that if we adequately prosecute these kinds of crimes, denying the perpetrators their intent (such as having juveniles commit the murders so that they are only jailed briefly) they will, in fact, stop. Tell me that you don't believe that if in the 5 cases cited in the article, the entire families who connived to kill their rebellious women were prosecuted and jailed that would not have a deterrent effect on the rest of the ultra-fundamentalists in Germany. I was being ironic when I referred to the debates as 'fun', but my point was that sometimes the sociological approach just isn't appropriate. A flawed analogy can be made to integration in the USA, I think. Not that we're free of racism here, but integration, purely by forcing the races to mix, eradicated much of the worst of racism, so that more and more generations who grow up attending school with people of all sorts of backgrounds don't automatically hate the 'other.' That was a functional solution which was fairly effective, whereas trying to pick apart the 'root causes' of racism in various communities may not have been as effective.

So to answer your question "How can we stop people from killing women who have 'sinned' out of a feeling of religious/cultural duty to do so?" I reiterate: send the perpetrators to jail for their crimes and other potential perpetrators will understand that murder has consequences, which they're not seeing now.
posted by miss tea at 4:36 PM on March 3, 2005


I reiterate: send the perpetrators to jail for their crimes and other potential perpetrators will understand that murder has consequences, which they're not seeing now.

I doubt that jail would prove an effective deterrent for people who clearly place a very low value on life.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:26 PM on March 3, 2005


Omiewise makes a good point, and one I constantly have to remind myself about when it comes to the honor killing issue. We (westerners/europeans) MAY be overstating the scope of the problem by picking out a few cases, because we are looking for screwed up things in Muslim culture.


The difference between the violence we see against women in places like the US and in Islamic states and communities is - violence like Honor Killings is fucking illegal in the US and perfectly legal in many muslim countries under Sharia Law.

Jeebus!
posted by tkchrist at 5:37 PM on March 3, 2005


That these women die because they adopted another culture is extraordinarily sad.

Paradoxically, in this case the passive voice would be more effective, e.g. "These women were killed, murdered."

And "extraordinarily sad"? Are you on Paxil or what?
posted by IndigoJones at 6:09 PM on March 3, 2005


I doubt that jail would prove an effective deterrent for people who clearly place a very low value on life.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:26 PM PST on March 3 [!]


So what do you propose -- a special "killing while Muslim" sentence enhancement? Re-education camps?
posted by insideout at 8:11 PM on March 3, 2005


Clearly, yes. You didn't put words into my mouth at all.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:28 PM on March 3, 2005


Why, if these families are known to have asked their younger sons to murder their sisters, aren't the older generations prosecuted? I'm not familiar with German law but presume they have some sort of accessory or incitement to murder statute.

Unfortunately, there's the tiny little hurdle of having to prove this, which can be extraordinarily difficult with everyone in the community keeping mum. Personally, I think there should be the option of sending the entire family (or at least all the men) home to Turkey if they turn out to be intolerant assholes, but that probably won't jive well with the idea of due process etc.
posted by sour cream at 12:11 AM on March 4, 2005


TKChrist (cute handle!)--I am actually not aware of any country where killing anyone is currently "perfectly legal under Sharia Law," as you put it. Afghanistan's appalling application of what they call Sharia was certainly an exception, but it still required the intervention of the state before the woman's brothers could stone her to death or pile bricks on her or whatever.

My understanding of the term is that by definition, honor killings are extralegal. Khameini (the religious top dog in Iran), of all people, says the practice is unislamic. Al-Azhar, here in Egypt, has issued the occasional judgement against it as well.

There might be some places where it's legal, (some Nigerian provinces? Saudi?) But let's not get side tracked here--I don't think anyone (least of all me) is interested in defending Muslim family law.

We're talking about whether the problem outlined in the article is a big, significant issue or a veiled attack on Muslims qua Muslims.

My point was just that news stories like this can sometimes make us think that there is a huge, statistically significant problem when in fact we have nothing but a total of five anecdotes out of a German population of just over 3 million muslims. So I think drawing big conclusions from a story like this is risky.

Secondly, the cultural attitude which says a Christian man should not be punished as harshly when he kills his wife for cheating on him is functionally no different than the attitude which says a Muslim is doing something less than cold murder when he kills his wife or sister for violating HIS sexual taboos.

I certainly agree that the German government should be doing something to stamp out these kinds of attitudes in their immigrant muslims, though. De-ghettoizing their Muslim popluations might be a start.
posted by jackbrown at 4:57 AM on March 6, 2005


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