Devotion
February 21, 2007 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Mohammed Riaz, 49, found it abhorrent that his eldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer, and that she and her sisters were likely to reject the Muslim tradition of arranged marriages.

So he sprayed petrol throughout their terraced British home in Accrington, Lancashire, and set it alight, killing his wife and four daughters while they slept in an honor killing for being "too Western."
posted by four panels (114 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Relatives broke the news to the couple's son, Adam, 17, as he lay terminally ill with cancer at the Christie Hospital, Manchester. He died six weeks later.

Wow.
posted by gurple at 2:03 PM on February 21, 2007


1) ayup... those crazy xtian... Muslems.
2) SPMI
3) -1
4) sigh
posted by edgeways at 2:04 PM on February 21, 2007


That's quite an act. What do you call it?
posted by boo_radley at 2:05 PM on February 21, 2007 [22 favorites]


LOL MUZLIMZ

not really the best of the web</small?
posted by GuyZero at 2:09 PM on February 21, 2007


This is one of the saddest things I've heard in a while. Thank you for posting this, four panels.
posted by transona5 at 2:09 PM on February 21, 2007


Tragic.
posted by dabitch at 2:11 PM on February 21, 2007


I want to hate athiest murderers too, but like a greasy handhold at a sleazy rock climbing gym, there's just nothing to grab onto.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:12 PM on February 21, 2007


Be careful - think about this rationally. Don't auto-indoctrinate, be introspective, be self-aware...
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 2:12 PM on February 21, 2007


not the best of the web. This happens fairly frequently in the world, not just to Muslims -- it's awful but doesn't have much greater meaning.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2007


I know, it's just about women -- can't we post some real news?
posted by transona5 at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is supposed to be noteworthy because they're Muslims, right? I know it's surprising but this kind of thing happens to other people too.
posted by bob sarabia at 2:18 PM on February 21, 2007


"I know, it's just about women -- can't we post some real news?"

holy kneejerk, batman.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:19 PM on February 21, 2007


Riaz, who had spent the evening drinking

Oh yes, the devout Muslim father.
posted by Hogshead at 2:20 PM on February 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:21 PM on February 21, 2007


Oh yes, the devout Muslim father.

I guess it's like the counterpoint to Southern Baptists, who don't use wine in church despite the fact that Christianity prescribes it.
posted by oaf at 2:25 PM on February 21, 2007


Burhanistan writes "This was indefensible and only related to Islam on the surface of this man's mind. Deeper beneath (speculation) he was moving to the same impulses that cause other men in other contexts to kill their families (and usually themselves afterwards)."

Yeah, I was gonna say that it sounds like the guy was dealing (badly) with a serious depression. Depression-related murder suicides are sadly not unheard of, and they're almost always perpetrated by men.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:27 PM on February 21, 2007


similarly, in italy last year.

must. deconstruct. honour.
posted by progosk at 2:28 PM on February 21, 2007


Three possible outcomes here, as I see it:

1. There is no God, so this asshole killed his family for no reason.
2. There is a God but he/she is the God of love. In this case this guy seriously fucked up, so he's going to helpp.
3. There is a God, but he is a misogynistic asshole whose sole function is to foster catalysis for vengeance. In this case, I would think most sane people would prefer going to hell.
posted by psmealey at 2:28 PM on February 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


A more believable trigger, I think: she developed a career as a community leader in Accrington while he, handicapped by a lack of English, took on a series of low-paid jobs.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


helppl freudian?
posted by psmealey at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2007


I guess it's like the counterpoint to Southern Baptists, who don't use wine in church despite the fact that Christianity prescribes it.

no. the qu'ran specifically forbids the drinking of alcohol.
posted by Stynxno at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2007


lupus_yonderboy: This happens fairly frequently in the world, not just to Muslims -- it's awful but doesn't have much greater meaning.

I assume it doesn't happen very frequently in the UK.

From the first article: Riaz, who had spent all but the last 17 years of his life in the North West Frontier region of Pakistan, met his Anglo-Pakistani wife when her father sent her to the sub-continent to find a husband.

So she grew up in the UK, and her father sent her to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.
posted by russilwvong at 2:30 PM on February 21, 2007


This was indefensible and only related to Islam on the surface of this man's mind. Deeper beneath (speculation) he was moving to the same impulses that cause other men in other contexts to kill their families (and usually themselves afterwards).

I'm sure Islam had a lot to do with it. He was probably an extremely devout Muslim that despised western culture and saw his daughters being corrupted by it. Why kill his family? There's the shame of his own daughters adopting a part of western culture, and besides that, they were pretty much damned anyway like the rest of the fashion world, according to the most devout Muslims. Why is this surprising, the more religious you are, the more crazy you are.
posted by disgruntled at 2:31 PM on February 21, 2007


What I think might be interesting is the reaction of various Muslim communities. Events like this tend to be something most people can react to with straight-out horror. Inside the mindset of a religious community that genuinely prefers death or murder to apostasy, I suspect that response is veiled or muted, but I think it's likely still there in many segments. I have to wonder if responses to events like this might not even be a catalyst within those communities, at least in places like where a live-and-let-live alternative is visible.

I can't find anything solid to indicate that kind of social motion. But this article seems to suggest there's something like that. I hope so; I'm not sure that anything other than change within the Muslim world will stop this kind of event from taking place on religious premises.
posted by weston at 2:32 PM on February 21, 2007


no. the qu'ran specifically forbids the drinking of alcohol.

Exactly. This guy drank, which is forbidden by the Qur'an, and the Baptists don't use wine, which is required in order to recreate the Last Supper.
posted by oaf at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2007


Or is it the more crazy you are, the more religious you become?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 2:34 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crazy man does crazy thing. Pictures at eleven.
posted by Mister_A at 2:40 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]



This is supposed to be noteworthy because they're Muslims, right? I know it's surprising but this kind of thing happens to other people too.


Well, I find it surprising because it happened in England, where hypertraditional bullshit like this really shouldn't be going down. But, you know, whatever.
posted by absalom at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most people in this group can just dismiss this as the guy being suicidal, drunk, insecure, depressed, fucked up, etc. So when five women living in the UK get murdered for being "too western", it's not really news and definitely not a big deal, because hey, we all know that this is not the real reason.

But that's not necessarily true for the culture in which this happened. And it's not necessarily true for every woman getting uppity/fashion-loving teenage girl/small girl child who hears this story.

And they're the ones we should worry about. The girls on the edge of finding themselves in a culture that tells them they shouldn't. Who are mentally testing the waters. Searching for independence. These victims weren't the only women living by fundamentalist rules in a non-fundamentalist country.

A story like this is a cautionary tale to them. There's a real subconscious or conscious affect in hearing about a girl that got too independent and rebellious... and got set on fire. Just like every college woman in the U.S. who hears story after story about other women getting raped at frat parties and in dark allies and behind the library and in the parking garage... It's a chilling effect and it has lasting consequences, for our psyches, for how we think about this world and our place in it.

Anyway, I think those little girls who don't know enough to dismiss this story, are the ones we should be talking about.
posted by crackingdes at 2:44 PM on February 21, 2007 [10 favorites]


Burnhanistan, his depression (if he was depressed) could have came from his failure to live up to the Quran, that is, if he was drinking or failing God in any other aspect of his life like raising his daughters according to God. And yes, athiests murder their families too for other reasons like depression or being unemployed and not being able to cope with life's challenges, etc.
posted by disgruntled at 2:45 PM on February 21, 2007


So she grew up in the UK, and her father sent her to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

I bet he's glad he did now!
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on February 21, 2007


A consensus view here seems to be that mental illness trumps all else. From a western point of view, it's hard to argue with that. But isn't it true that so-called honor killing is a very real phenomenon in the Muslim countries in South Asia and the Mideast? Can all those instances where it occurse be dismissed so easily as mental illness?

Even very devout Christians dismiss some of the more specific and absurd rules and dictates laid out in Old Testament as being outdated and not central to the core message of the faith. Clearly, many still (disappointingly) struggle with the idea that homosexuality is a sin, but we've definitely come a long way since stonings, forced confessions under torture and burning heretics at the stake.

Will publicizing this sort of thing cause more Muslims to take a look at their own faith, and realize that some of the rules enscribed in their own 1200 year old holy text might not necessarily apply to ths current time? Or will it be met with indifference. I guess that seems like the key, as weston suggests.

Just seems timely, as I still had a recent interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali still ringing in my ears when I saw this story. While she is no doubt a controversial and divisive figure, it was hard not to see some sense in her arguments. Her central point was until Islam achieves its own version of reformation or enlightenment, it's not ever going to be a force for good. These sorts of atrocities will continue to happen, more or less unabated.

I'm very reluctant to carry water for that perspective, because I don't buy it totally. I have spent enough time in the Muslim world and elsewhere to know that it's never a good idea to generalize about such things. But the outrage that this story (and others like it) inspires gave me some pause to think about it, and at least consider the possibility that there's much more than just one person's mental illness at work here, and some larger uncomfortable conversation that's being ignored.
posted by psmealey at 3:06 PM on February 21, 2007


Dear Mr. Riaz,

how's that "honor thing" treatin' ya now?

Ya dumb-fuck.

Islam teaches: thou shalt not kill. PERIOD.
posted by stevejensen at 3:07 PM on February 21, 2007


There is no doubt that honor killings are real and relaly awful. This may be one more tragic example. Still, its tough to reconcile the idea that this was a Muslim-faith-driven honor killing with this paragraph:

"After an arranged marriage, she developed a career as a community leader in Accrington while he, handicapped by a lack of English, took on a series of low-paid jobs."

Armchair psychologizing
Sounds more to me like a depressed man who couldn't handle the fac that his wife was more successful in adapting to their new life in a foreign country, and grabbed onto a convenient ideological reason to castigate them for his own personal failings.
/Armchair psychologizing

If this interpretation is correct, then it points to another real drawbacks of extreme religious beliefs of many sorts: the ease with which a man's low self-esteem can be transformed into violent blaming of someone else for their own misfortune.
posted by googly at 3:12 PM on February 21, 2007


"Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people."

-H. Richard Niebuhr
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:21 PM on February 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Like some others, I refuse to link this event with Islam. Several years ago in the American Northwest, a woman was kidnapped and, I believe ultimately killed, by two men who were End-Time survivalists--or were they Mormon polygynists--see, the religion is immaterial. People whose thinking is clouded by any ideology that presumes that killing another human being can be justified by the precepts set down by one set of rulers/regulators and interpreted by another set of rulers/regulators will always be making a decision that is misguided. As crazy as Althusser was, his work on ideological apparatuses was well grounded, and his killing of his wife was not driven by any religio-ideological forces. He was just crazy.
posted by klangklangston at 3:23 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm against this.
posted by mazola at 3:24 PM on February 21, 2007


crackingdes: Francis Fukuyama wrote a recent article that, I think, resonates with the line you are pursuing. I'm not the biggest Fukuyama fan, but I think it deserves to read and discussed.
posted by klangklangston at 3:29 PM on February 21, 2007


I'm sure Islam had a lot to do with it.

Whereas I don't think Islam had anything to do with it, not at heart. The vast majority of Muslims love their families and want what's best for them, just as the vast majority of immigrant families dealing with cross cultural issues don't feel the need to kill their children as a way of dealing.

Sadly, violence like this while by no means common does happen. For example, in NZ last week a man stabbed his three young children with a carving knife as part of a 'domestic incident' and I can think of a few of other cases over the past few years where parents have killed their families (the guy that killed his daughter then stepped in front of a truck on the motorway, the guy that stabbed to death his ex-partner and her kid in a park, etc). Religion isn't the recurring theme as to why these things happen. They are never happy families and it's generally a male carrying out the violence, but they aren't all Muslims or new immigrants either.

Why is this surprising, the more religious you are, the more crazy you are.

Which is utter utter bullshit designed to make yourself feel superior and not have to think about the situation. This guy wasn't acting this way because he's Muslim but because he was driven to desperation by whatever demons he had in his head and probably by how they made him react to external pressures from society. We can't fix other people's demons but we can maybe work towards making our society supportive and inclusive and the kind of place where that kind of desperation doesn't get a chance to take hold. But this isn't going to happen while we're just writing people off as crazy because of religion or whatever other difference they may have.

(I'm an atheist who doesn't generally like organised religion, but that kind of statement is just horseshit)
posted by shelleycat at 3:30 PM on February 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


How much difference is there really between this guy and David Robert McMenemy?

I'm willing to bet that people who deal with lunatics on a full time basis have a susinct phrase for "looser who gets religion, blames society's immorality for his woes and decides that he is the hand of divine vengence!"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:34 PM on February 21, 2007


> This guy wasn't acting this way because he's Muslim but because he was driven to desperation by
> whatever demons he had in his head and probably by how they made him react to external pressures
> from society.

Do you suppose anyone here will take that line next time some xtians do something nutso? I doubt it, said the Walrus, and he shed a bitter tear.


> no. the qu'ran specifically forbids the drinking of alcohol.

"But master, does not the Holy Qurʾan forbid the imbibing of alcoholic beverages?"
"Oh fool of a fool, Holy Qurʾan mentions naught but khamr, grape wine. Vodka is made of potatoes! Allah will be none the wiser."
posted by jfuller at 3:35 PM on February 21, 2007


Well, I find it surprising because it happened in England, where hypertraditional bullshit like this really shouldn't be going down. But, you know, whatever.

But it's also the kind of bullshit that results directly from cultural displacement. The tension between the old & the new is greater if you jump cultures from Pakistan to England, than if you stay & maybe experience slower - and lesser - change back home. Not unlike the difference between dropping a lobster into boiling water, as opposed to slowly bringing up the temperature of the water around it.

So she grew up in the UK, and her father sent her to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

delmoi: I bet he's glad he did now!


Well, you know, maybe, just maybe, he is. "Ah! What a proper son-in-law I found!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2007


Her central point was until Islam achieves its own version of reformation or enlightenment, it's not ever going to be a force for good.[...]

But the outrage that this story (and others like it) inspires gave me some pause to think about it, and at least consider the possibility that there's much more than just one person's mental illness at work here, and some larger uncomfortable conversation that's being ignored.


Definitely. For example, we're still talking about this-and-that being "a force for good", without really confronting what we as a society mean by "good". IMHO, the whole can-Muslims-ever-play-nice discussion is more than a little hypocritical, considering that our society condones many things that are, from an outside perspective, roughly as messed-up as this. It's another example of "their hang-ups are horrible, but our hang-ups are The Way Of The World!"

In short, I think you're right: there's definitely a larger, uncomfortable conversation that's being ignored. The problem is, it ain't just being ignored by the Muslims...
posted by vorfeed at 3:38 PM on February 21, 2007


I agree with the people who said this is just a Islamic-flavored paternal murder-suicide. Islam might have been the excuse, but the lack of devoutness by the killer (drinking, committing suicide himself) suggests he wasn't particularly religious.

I do think that it might help prevent future honor killings (real ones) if his body was dishonored in the most dramatic way possible - slather it in pig fat, stick his head on a pike, throw it into the sewer, throw it to wolves, whatever his religion says is the worst possible way to handle a corpse. I think society has to send a message to honor killers - kill someone for your pathetic ideal of 'honor' and we'll dishonor you as much as we possibly can.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:39 PM on February 21, 2007


I think some people are missing the point here.
It's not that he was a muslim, it's not that he was a mentally ill muslim.
It's that he was doing something that is all too commonplace over the world, and considered wrong by sane people of any religious stripe, in a place that doesn't normally see this kind of thing.
It's about the spread of untreated mental conditions excused or glossed over by zealotry in a place that is supposed to be rational enough to catch stuff like this before it ends up in death.
posted by Dillenger69 at 3:42 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank you for posting this, four panels.

Yes, because news accounts of crazy people killing people is definitely Best of the Web. And note the wonderful thread it's inspired! LOL CRAZY PEOPLE KILLING PEOPLE!

Props to shelleycat for a great comment.
posted by languagehat at 3:45 PM on February 21, 2007


Maybe this guy is just an asshole.
posted by hojoki at 3:49 PM on February 21, 2007


Her central point was until Islam achieves its own version of reformation or enlightenment, it's not ever going to be a force for good.

So what does one do about modern fundamentalist Christians who would tell you the enlightenment is pure evil?

Like I said, I'm sure the pros have a word for these people.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:49 PM on February 21, 2007


Even in the context of "honor killing", this is very far outside the norm as to not able to legitimately be part of that phenomenon.

The 'typical' honor killing involves a young girl (16-18, usually) who runs away from home, gets pregnant, and then for whatever reason returns home. She is not not marriage material, meaning that in a tribal society she is more-or-less dead weight. Furthermore, she has made the rest of the family look bad, which make affect marriage prospects for other females in the family unit. Thus, in more primitive times, the punishment for disobeying the family's reproductive order is death.

This tribal practice, which can be seen to have some 'logic' in the context of a male dominated tribe, has unfortunately had some hold on certain regressive elements of society from whence these tribes sprang. Honor killing is basically forbidden by Islam, there is nothing supporting it and only evidence against it in the Quran and Sharia. However it's important to remember that many if not most of the worst parts of Islam come from the tribal and not religious tradition.

This particular event does not really fall into the same category.
posted by cell divide at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


A tragedy. I don't know if there was any religious or cultural component in the deaths of this family, but I find it sad that the we have to even entertain such a possibility. The idea that such caustic cultures exist, where honor killing your family is tolerated or accepted, is deeply depressing.
posted by quin at 3:55 PM on February 21, 2007


Will publicizing this sort of thing cause more Muslims to take a look at their own faith, and realize that some of the rules enscribed in their own 1200 year old holy text might not necessarily apply to ths current time?

I don't know, what part of the "1200 year old holy text" says you should kill your whole family to prevent your daughter from becoming a fasion designer should be reconsidered?
posted by delmoi at 3:55 PM on February 21, 2007


Here is a horrible story from Philadelphia. It is a few years old, but no less horrible with the passing of time.

I would be quite a racist asshole if I posted this here under a single-word title like "ghetto" or "Philadelphia" and tagged it with "blackpeople", "discipline", and "murder", wouldn't I?

That is more or less what four panels has done here; of course Islam is a "religion", not an "arbitrary ethnic category", so there is a distinction, but not an important one. Muslims are now the minority it's OK to hate publicly in the US. Muslims are the new niggers or the new jews. Every transgression committed by a muslim is further evidence, in the eyes of many Americans, of the general depravity of Islam and of all muslims.
posted by Mister_A at 4:04 PM on February 21, 2007


Her central point was until Islam achieves its own version of reformation or enlightenment, it's not ever going to be a force for good.

Reformation? Islam started with a clerical structure similar protestant to the church. Enlightenment? the enlightenment was a move away from the Christian church, so I'm not sure how you could ever apply it to a religion. Many enlightenment figures were not very Christian at all (such as Tomas Jefferson and Voltaire). Asking for an Islamic version of the enlightenment illustrates a profound ignorance of religion and philosophy.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on February 21, 2007


of course Islam is a "religion", not an "arbitrary ethnic category", so there is a distinction, but not an important one.

I would bet that the number of persons that choose to be Muslim is greater than the number of persons that choose to be black.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:09 PM on February 21, 2007


Kwantsar you must have missed the Cardiff Massive or whatever that youtube thread was yesterday :)
posted by cell divide at 4:14 PM on February 21, 2007


disgruntled : "Why is this surprising, the more religious you are, the more crazy you are."

Because it also happens a lot in Japan, which, while certainly having plenty of superstition, is pretty darn non-religious.
posted by Bugbread at 4:17 PM on February 21, 2007


For those surprised at this happening in the UK - don't be. Honour killings make the news pretty regularly, (eg. this report has 12 murders classed as honour killings in 2002). In 2004 the Crown Prosecution Service caused a bit of a stir when they re-examined ~100 murder cases suspected of being honour killings, as well as cases initially classed as suicides, to see if they'd been caused by family intimidation (the suicide rate in young Asian women is triple that among young white women). Also, it's definitely not just a Muslim problem: there have been high profile cases involving Sikh and Christian families in the UK.
posted by jack_mo at 4:22 PM on February 21, 2007


I don't disagree delmoi, I just paraphrased her point a bit clumsily. Her point was that Christendom (not just Christian religion) underwent the enlightenment. To be sure, many key figures pertaining thereto were barely theists, but their ideas were hugely influential in how Christianity came to be practiced thereafter. Ali's argument is that Islam has had no such influence, nor any real reformation (got your point about its foundation), so it sticks stubbornly to the literal interpretation of words and ideas written in the 8th century, when Christianity and Judaism have moved past similar issues (though inexplicably, not homosexuality).

My overall reluctance to accept this position, is due to its overarching generalization, not to mention what Mister_A gets to, that accepting this point without question takes us back to fear, loathing and prejudice with respect to Islam. Not very productive.
posted by psmealey at 4:26 PM on February 21, 2007


My overall reluctance to accept this position, is due to its overarching generalization, not to mention what Mister_A gets to, that accepting this point without question takes us back to fear, loathing and prejudice with respect to Islam.

But what if it's true?

There are a lot of truths out there that aren't very nice or conducive to social peace or pleasant to talk about in polite company.

And what if they remain true no matter how uncomfortable they make you?
posted by jason's_planet at 4:59 PM on February 21, 2007


And what if they remain true no matter how uncomfortable they make you?

And what if they're not true no matter how smugly self-righteous they make you?

Tell me, exactly how much study of Islam have you done? Or do you just know it's a primitive, inhuman religion?
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on February 21, 2007


his depression (if he was depressed) could have came from his failure to live up to the Quran
I think it's because he wasn't able to live up to his lifelong dream of being a banker.
posted by adoarns at 5:27 PM on February 21, 2007


And what if they're not true no matter how smugly self-righteous they make you?

Then I would accept the truth.

And I would reject your characterization of me as "smugly self-righteous."

If you sincerely believe that that's an accurate characterization of me, maybe you might want to ask around a little bit, ask people who've actually met me in person. Or not.

I just note that sometimes, people on MetaFilter shy away from examining some issues because the implications make them feel uncomfortable. And that strikes me as not especially honest or courageous.


Tell me, exactly how much study of Islam have you done? Or do you just know it's a primitive, inhuman religion?


A little bit. I've read the Q'uran. I've read some other stuff. I talk with Muslims in my neighborhood. I most emphatically do not view Islam, or Muslims in general, as primitive and inhuman. I do view their culture and religion as open to critique, which is the same view I take of the cultures and religions of everyone else. Especially my own.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:44 PM on February 21, 2007


From the nice folks at Wikipedia:
Appeal to consequences, also known as argumentum ad consequentiam (Latin: argument to the consequences), is an argument that concludes a premise (typically a belief) to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences. This is based on an appeal to emotion and is considered to be a form of logical fallacy, since the appeal of a consequence does not address the truth value of the premise. Moreover, in categorizing consequences as either desirable or undesirable, such arguments inherently contain subjective points of view.

In logic, appeal to consequences refers only to arguments which assert a premise's truth value (true or false) based on the consequences; appeal to consequences does not refer to arguments that address a premise's desirability (good or bad, or right or wrong) instead of its truth value.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:47 PM on February 21, 2007


I've read the Q'uran. I've read some other stuff. I talk with Muslims in my neighborhood. I most emphatically do not view Islam, or Muslims in general, as primitive and inhuman. I do view their culture and religion as open to critique

Fair enough, and I'm sorry I snarked at you. I'm sure you can understand why I leaped to the conclusion I did, given the amount of ignorant Islam-bashing around. I absolutely agree that everyone's culture, religion, and general worldview should be open to critique.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 PM on February 21, 2007


I'd agree that it seems likely to have been because of the depression/drinking...

...but without the religious culture behind it what were the chances he would have morally justified what he did? I mean this is presuming he's not a genuine psychopath which, having raised a family of 4 I seriously doubt he was.
posted by kigpig at 6:10 PM on February 21, 2007


...but without the religious culture behind it what were the chances he would have morally justified what he did?

Maybe if he'd come from a Christian background and chosen that set of symbols to express his lunacy, maybe he would have amputated his hand the way Eric Rudolph's older brother did.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:18 PM on February 21, 2007


Tell me, exactly how much study of Islam have you done? Or do you just know it's a primitive, inhuman religion?

I'm not personally aware of a religion I wouldn't consider inhuman and nihilistic, so yeah.
posted by spaltavian at 6:29 PM on February 21, 2007


...but without the religious culture behind it what were the chances...

What indeed....

posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:30 PM on February 21, 2007


I think cell divide has the correct answer.

This has absolutely nothing to do with Islam beyond coincidence. In a large swath of the world, honor killings are accepted. They, and similar things - dowry killings, bride burnings - are remnants of tribal cultures. Some of the people doing this are Muslim, others are Hindi, Sikh, Christian, etc.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:37 PM on February 21, 2007


Like some others, I refuse to link this event with Islam.

A balanced view would suggest a link in that her father sent her to the old country to find a husband, clearly a religiously or at least culturally driven imperative, although...

We have an odd situation here in several ways, usually the husband takes the initiative and goes back looking for a wife for example - one wonders what effect that might have on an already unstable individual. Was she more wealthy than he as well? What about the relationship between the father and husband, did the father tell the husband his job was to stop her from becoming too western? Did he feel even more alone after the father's death? The drinking is seriously out of character for any religious muslim I've ever known and possibly a sign of serious isolation; perhaps he was muslim more in a cultural sense than religiously.
posted by scheptech at 6:44 PM on February 21, 2007


Maybe I missed something in the articles, but do we know for sure that this was an honor killing? It sounds like the father had a rough grasp of English and was in supremely bad shape when he died. Did he manage to confess his motive despite that? From my read, it could just be a garden variety case of family annihilation, which is by no means the excusive province of Muslim (or even religious) men.

(Which, I guess, is a roundabout way of agreeing with Cell Divide.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:50 PM on February 21, 2007


Kid Charlemagne,

I was tempted to critique the Japanese culture comment in my other post but didn't want to look up links or get railed for not having the time to do so. Much of Japan is deeply religious and adherent to staunch moral codes. I'm sure there's some, but any 'honor killing' I've heard of there (granted I've done no thesis on them) came from the religiously grounded, be it worship of God or of the Emperor.

Perhaps though, I should have said 'dogmatic culture' instead.
posted by kigpig at 6:52 PM on February 21, 2007


This is tragic.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:52 PM on February 21, 2007


And no, I don't have anything more insightful to say. I don't know where to begin.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2007


others are Hindi
Hindi is a Language; you mean Hindu.

/pet peeve
posted by dhruva at 7:02 PM on February 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hindi is a Language; you mean Hindu.

If it makes you feel any better, I knew I'd screwed that up as soon as I clicked on the "post comment" button.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:17 PM on February 21, 2007


Her point was that Christendom (not just Christian religion) underwent the enlightenment. To be sure, many key figures pertaining thereto were barely theists, but their ideas were hugely influential in how Christianity came to be practiced thereafter. Ali's argument is that Islam has had no such influence, nor any real reformation (got your point about its foundation), so it sticks stubbornly to the literal interpretation of words and ideas written in the 8th century, when Christianity and Judaism have moved past similar issues

Actually, if you are talking of non-literal interpretations of the Bible, that is massively overstating the role of the enlightenment. As early as the first century AD, the influential Philo of Alexandria (Philo Judaeus) argued for an allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and Christendom had been through a millenium of melding Christian ideas with Greek philosophy before the enlightenment, meaning that strict literalistic interpretations of the Bible had been left behind long before then.

If the enlightenment stood for anything with respect to Christian belief, it was that reason was further elevated, such that God was thought to be directly knowable through His creation (eg through science) rather than being a remote entitity approachable only through speculative & mystical means. This has little or nothing to do with whether or not you interpret the Bible literally.

/off-topic

on preview: one Hindu, many Hindi...

posted by UbuRoivas at 7:18 PM on February 21, 2007


on preview: one Hindu, many Hindi...

No, the plural for Hindu is Hindus. And anyway, I was aiming for singular, not plural.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:28 PM on February 21, 2007


No it's not. It's actually Hindoos, as in Hindoostanee.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:18 PM on February 21, 2007


I think perhaps that a distinction could be made here. I've seen some comments here that draw connections between Islam and honor killing, but it seems that honor killings are not a product of Islam in any meaningful sense; in fact, the Qu'ran and the hadith do not mention it at all, except for a prohibition on the killing of female infants, which was included presumably because it was a cultural practice that existed in the milieu from which Islam sprang. I think it's safe to say that the standards and mores that gave shape and life to the practice predate the establishment of Islam. It's a morally reprehensible and immensely neurotic custom, but it's not a Muslim custom per se, and is only one specific instantiation of gendered violence, so to speak, which exists in many cultures in different forms.
posted by clockzero at 8:20 PM on February 21, 2007


Much of Japan is deeply religious and adherent to staunch moral codes.

Adherent to staunch moral codes, yes, but Western-style "religious" people are considered weird in Japan. What we would call faith is not really a part of most people's lives -- rather, one's religious observance is a just a part of one's adherence to tradition and ritual, including traditions and rituals from multiple religions. For example, there are a lot of Japanese families where the son has a traditional Shinto-style wedding, the daughter chooses a Christian-style one, and when they die, the funeral is a Buddhist ceremony. For most Japanese people, religious observance is limited to festivals, occasional temple visits, and these sorts of important occasions. No conflict between religions is perceived, to the point where a person would be considered a little bit eccentric if he or she followed only Shinto, or only Buddhism, or only Christianity. There are also some recent events (such as the Aum Shinrikyo cult and the political rise of Soka Gakkai) that have led people to become more leery of the overtly religious.

I think bugbread has it right -- Japanese culture is superstitious, but not religious in the Western sense. See here for more information.
posted by vorfeed at 8:55 PM on February 21, 2007


Ok, remember that muslims are circumcised. And I know that this is about FGM, but you really can't go into that without talking about the butchering of young boys that is MGM. I mean, how can you do that knowing that the kid will have no feeling in his penis and it will fall off eventually? I am open for actual discussion and argument about this and I have convinced my many muslim and jewish religious friends that I am right and they shouldn't cut off their baby's penises.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 9:20 PM on February 21, 2007


caneze was beginning to create the support system to leave him. he drinks. he couldn't speak english as well as she. she'd grown up abroad and could hold her own - witness her role as a community leader. he could not be on the same status due to his language issues and move straight from home country to western country. she had her o levels. he drank. against religion. no alcohol legal in pakistan. abuse - verbal first, psychological if he was intelligent, emotional through the children. finially as she began to gain confidence that she did not need to live this way after her father died and it did not matter what the world said she began to make friends and secretly prepare to leave him and his abuse. they can sense the distancing and the inner strength you begin to develop as you take the steps to get out of an alcoholic's abusive marriage - especially an arranged south asian marriage - hindu muslim or otherwise its not religion. it's macho izzat - I spit on that word - it is the reason for the rapes, the killings, the torture of women in South Asia.

been there done that. was blessed, found friends who helped me escape and hide.
posted by infini at 9:25 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


If it makes you feel any better

It does :)
posted by dhruva at 9:28 PM on February 21, 2007


And I know that this is about FGM, but you really can't go into that without talking about the butchering of young boys that is MGM.

No, it's not, and yes, you can.
posted by oaf at 9:52 PM on February 21, 2007


This happens fairly frequently in the world, not just to Muslims -- it's awful but doesn't have much greater meaning.

So, anyone have any statistics? If we can show that honour killings are distributed evenly among religions (scaled by population, etc) then I guess it doesn't have greater meaning. If a larger percentage of honour killings are committed by people who identify themselves as Muslims, then yeah -- it has greater meaning.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:53 PM on February 21, 2007


So, anyone have any statistics? If we can show that honour killings are distributed evenly among religions (scaled by population, etc) then I guess it doesn't have greater meaning. If a larger percentage of honour killings are committed by people who identify themselves as Muslims, then yeah -- it has greater meaning.

I have no statistics, but the 'honor killing' part seems spurious to me. The examples I gave above were not honour killings and they wouldn't be counted in your statistics. Muslims will have more of that type of murder, the terms of reference would skew the results. It most definitely does happen in non-Muslim cultures and to non-religious families (although I don't know to what extent), it's just that the details or excuses are different.

This news story wouldn't have been made a FPP here if it wasn't a Muslim family that it happened to (I didn't see any posts about the man stabbing his children in NZ last week after all) and there are certainly enough other things going on in the story to show it's not just some fundamentalist nut doing what his god tells him.
posted by shelleycat at 11:24 PM on February 21, 2007


Muslims will have more of that type of murder, the terms of reference would skew the results. It most definitely does happen in non-Muslim cultures and to non-religious families (although I don't know to what extent), it's just that the details or excuses are different.

Man, too much editing, meaning gone.

I meant that Muslims will have more 'honour killings' than many other religions because of the cultural and religious implications of that term. But parents murdering their families, particularly fathers killing their children, does happen in other places too and is still relevant even if the same excuses/cultural framing isn't used. So you'd need to consider a wider range of murder types of get the whole picture rather than just focus on honour killings alone.
posted by shelleycat at 11:37 PM on February 21, 2007


kigpig : "Much of Japan is deeply religious and adherent to staunch moral codes."

Adherent to staunch moral codes, yes. Deeply religious, no. Japanese religion can be confusing because everyone participates in certain parts of it (visiting the shrine to pray for good results on a test, etc), but it's certainly not "being religious" in any sense most of us Westerners think of.

kigpig : "I'm sure there's some, but any 'honor killing' I've heard of there (granted I've done no thesis on them) came from the religiously grounded, be it worship of God or of the Emperor."

Nah, for the most part they come from violations of the moral codes. Whenever they have one of these family murder-suicides, it seems to be because the father was fired from work for some sort of impropriety, or because of shame from being in debt, or reasons like that. I can't think of the last family murder-suicides here that was in any way tied to religion, and, knowing the Japanese fear of religion thanks to groups like Aum, whenever religion is involved the press is sure to make a very strong note of it.
posted by Bugbread at 1:57 AM on February 22, 2007


There is no connection to Islam. Last year, in Kent, a woman who was part of a group of Druids, hung her three daughters by their ankles from the branches of an old oak. She said she did it because her husband was 'looking at them funny' and she thought the oak would protect the girls from his perverted attention. Every religion interprets its sacred texts differently and who's to say the oak didn't appreciate the gesture? We really should not judge religions or those who believe in them.
posted by sluglicker at 2:03 AM on February 22, 2007


vorfeed's description is dead on. I regularly meet people who say that this was their biggest surprise about Japan.
posted by dreamsign at 2:32 AM on February 22, 2007


Islam teaches: thou shalt not kill. PERIOD.

It's obviously not that simple. Killing is specifically allowed (Sura 17:33) "in the course of justice", and justice usually includes meting out the death penalty for adultery, apostasy, and blasphemy.

(Killing infidel invaders is also required, but the criteria for what constitutes an invasion are fuzzy. Osama bin Laden, for instance, considers the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia an invasion, and thus feels religiously justified in waging war against the infidel invaders.)

There may be other forbidden activities too.

Wanting to be a fashion designer isn't any of these religious crimes, and it's quite possible to design non-Sharia clothes without wearing them, so it doesn't necessarily break any dress code. But if the father here thought that fashion was an unworthy pursuit for a muslim woman, and she objected by saying that such views were outdated and irrelevant in a modern society, then that could easily constitute blasphemy (any kind of disrespect to Allah).

Most likely this wacko had very little religious motivation, but you can't underestimate the reverence and submission that muslims feel for Islamic justice. If you know in the back of your mind that a woman should be put to death, it's easier to push yourself over the edge and do it when in a drunken depression.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:20 AM on February 22, 2007


To me it seems that you look at how a nexus of factors and circumstances play on the individual when wondering why they do something. Of course it's very hard to draw an unblurred line between different factors in any one person. With this man you think of, say, his depression and his marriage, his immigrant status and social exclusion, other mental health issues and so on.
So where would you fit his religion into that frame? I'm not informed enough to make that assessment myself, either about the quality of this particular man's religious life or the brand of Islam he professed.
But speaking generally, I wouldn't want to discount it altogether, only insofar as it too would have played a part when the crisis came and in how it came. From the little I know, it seems that gender, class and regional cultural issues would rank higher as determinants of the particular form of expression his wrongness took. But his faith was part of him too, however misunderstood or poorly practised.
I say this not because I have a particular point about Islam; I'm not qualified to speak to that; and I can hardly sit here thousands of miles away and pronounce with certainty on this case. But I see no point in believing that religious faith or other universalist beliefs don't impact on behaviour or in shaping possible outcomes.
After all, that is often part of their claim to relevance; it's part of their value and power and also part of the danger they present.
posted by Abiezer at 6:28 AM on February 22, 2007


the story is very sad, but some of the comments are hilarious. people jumping all over themselves to dissociate islam from honor killings and taking shots at those who do make this association. people attacking the story itself, as if anything that doesn't support their assumptions is necessarily "not the best of the web."

i believe there is such a thing as too much tolerance, too much accommodation and celebration of "diversity". five innocent women burned to death while sleeping in their home and all the ensuing grasping for any rationale by which to acquit islam. you crack me up!
posted by bruce at 7:37 AM on February 22, 2007


I tried to read these comments, I tried to get engaged in the Japan tangent (as I lived there and married a Japanese woman and study Japanese religion and philosophy in grad school right now), but all I can think about are the poor women who burned to death in agony over their insane husband/father. I mean, burning to death is slow, painful, and unlike anything most of us have ever felt.

Their pain must have been unbearable and, religion or not, I cant seem to get past that. He could have been humane about it. He wasn't. Don't get me in a room alone with him.
posted by Dantien at 7:49 AM on February 22, 2007


I guess it's like the counterpoint to Southern Baptists, who don't use wine in church despite the fact that Christianity prescribes it.

no. the qu'ran specifically forbids the drinking of alcohol.
--Stynxno


Am I the only one who found that funny?
posted by malaprohibita at 7:51 AM on February 22, 2007


Why is this surprising, the more religious you are, the more crazy you are.

Which is utter utter bullshit designed to make yourself feel superior and not have to think about the situation. This guy wasn't acting this way because he's Muslim but because he was driven to desperation by whatever demons he had in his head and probably by how they made him react to external pressures from society.

Believe me, I don't feel superior. I wonder where those demons in his head came from? Islam is a misogynistic religion. Religions are fictions based on stories written by people thousands of years ago. The more a person believes in a fiction, the more they are removed from reality, that is the defintion of psychosis. Mainstream religion is nothing more than a mass psychosis.

If I went to Iran and criticized Islam in the middle of the street, I would be dead in a few minutes. If you think that's horseshit, tell it to Theo Van Gogh.
posted by disgruntled at 8:02 AM on February 22, 2007


honor killings occur at all levels of muslim society, don't blame this guy's poverty. remember "death of a princess"? the saudi princess had allegedly committed fornication, so they cut off her head with a sword in the public square. can't blame poverty for that, not in a family of oil sheiks. then the saudi government applied pressure to american media not to broadcast the story. that's islam for you.
posted by bruce at 8:18 AM on February 22, 2007


that's islam for you.

That's bigotry for you.
posted by Mister_A at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2007


The vastly different majority response between "Fucked-up Xtian" and "Fucked-up Muslim" is very revealing of something.
I'm not sure what it is, but I'm pretty sure I don't care for it.
posted by rocket88 at 8:41 AM on February 22, 2007


That's bigotry for you.
Being anti-Islam is bigotry. Being anti-Christian is progressive.
posted by rocket88 at 8:43 AM on February 22, 2007


if denouncing a religion that approves of beheading its young women for fornication makes me a bigot, i'm damn proud to be a bigot.
posted by bruce at 9:05 AM on February 22, 2007


bruce writes "if denouncing a religion that approves of beheading its young women for fornication makes me a bigot, i'm damn proud to be a bigot."

I'm going to go ahead and assume you take the same hard line against Christianity for the whole "stoning of adulterers" thing, too.
posted by Bugbread at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2007


On checking your commenting history: looks like that assumption was correct, so we're cool.
posted by Bugbread at 9:15 AM on February 22, 2007


Being anti-Islam is bigotry. Being anti-Christian is progressive.

Well, considering that Islam is "the other" in our society, and that Christianity "belongs to us", I'd say this attitude makes a lot of sense. Most people who hate Christianity have at least a passing familiarity with it. They know plenty of Christians, they probably even grew up in a Christian household, and they live in a society well-soaked with Christian assumptions and "moral" values. In contrast, most of the anti-Islam people I've met have never personally known an Islamic person, nor traveled to an Islamic country, nor studied even as much as a Wikipedia page about Islam. Everything they know about it comes from TV or newspapers. In short, they have about as much knowledge of Islam as I have of Klingon religion... yet at the same time, they're convinced it's entirely horrible, seemingly because the horrible parts of Islam are different from the horrible parts of our own society. Sorry, but that's bigotry, not progression.

It's fine if you're anti-Islam or anti-Christian -- I personally despise both religions -- but as far as I'm concerned, you should be required to show your work. Those with specific and consistent ethical or philosophical problems with Islam and/or Christianity (as opposed to "those people aren't like us"/"waa, daddy made me go to church") seem to be few and far between.
posted by vorfeed at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2007


It might be good to mention that after virtually ever verse in the Quran that allows for severe punishment or killing of wrong doers, there is an immediate rejoinder that forgiveness is better. Look it up.

That's exactly what you have to keep coming back to. Not that culture or religion doesn't create certain expectations (of dress, behaviour, sexual expression, etc) that violations of can create anger, perhaps contributing to violence, but that Muslims -- or Christians -- who give in to those impulses are betraying their faith. Not modeling it.
posted by dreamsign at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2007


We really should not judge religions or those who believe in them.

Haha. What?
posted by Krrrlson at 12:33 PM on February 22, 2007


This news story wouldn't have been made a FPP here if it wasn't a Muslim family that it happened to...

If a Christian had killed his family for being too liberal, it wouldn't have been discussed here? Which Metafilter are you reading?

I meant that Muslims will have more 'honour killings' than many other religions because of the cultural and religious implications of that term.

So you agree that culture and religion play a part in this, yet you claim that we have no right to view them as potential causes. I guess it's better to let a few murders happen that risk offending someone.

So you'd need to consider a wider range of murder types of get the whole picture rather than just focus on honour killings alone.

Very well, you've set the terms for the evaluation. Based on these criteria, what do the statistics say? I don't know if anyone has conducted a study that meets your specifications, but I would be genuinely curious to see the results.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:45 PM on February 22, 2007


Krrrlson writes "So you agree that culture and religion play a part in this, yet you claim that we have no right to view them as potential causes."

Well, there is a third option: There are "kill yourself and your family" situations in all cultures. Let's say there are 100 in culture A, which is non-Muslim, and 100 in culture B, which is Muslim. In Culture A, 5 of those are "honor killings", and 95 are "fuck it, my life sucks and I'm taking them with me". In Culture B, 95 of them are "honor killings", and 5 are "fuck it, my life sucks and I'm taking them with me". In this situation, culture B has way, way more honor killings than culture A, but it's just because the parsing of the killings is different, and the actual total number of dead parents and kids is the same.

Just a possibility that may be being missed here, as people are assuming that "kill your family and yourself" = "honor killings", and not a superset including honor killings.
posted by Bugbread at 1:13 PM on February 22, 2007


Nice point, bugbread, but can I muddy the waters a little?

"Fuck it, my life sucks & I am taking them with me" can include an honour-killing component: "not only do I suck even as a pizza delivery boy, my football team is lousy, I can't get it up, I am wallowing in infidel alcoholism, but on top of that, my family doesn't respect me enough to follow my rules & traditions..."

It needn't be strictly one or the other.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:58 PM on February 22, 2007


Yeah, sorry. I wasn't very complete there.
posted by Bugbread at 2:43 PM on February 22, 2007


"I meant that Muslims will have more 'honour killings' than many other religions because of the cultural and religious implications of that term.

So you agree that culture and religion play a part in this, yet you claim that we have no right to view them as potential causes. I guess it's better to let a few murders happen that risk offending someone."

B does not follow from A. Islam may have more "honor killings" where the US has "family destroyer disorder," and the act can be the same. I would argue that on this, the culture gives context, not content.
posted by klangklangston at 4:37 PM on February 22, 2007


Honor Killing is a barbaric and inhuman practice with roots in primitive tribal communities. It's something that should be dragged into the light of day, condemned by all, and not argued away or explained away.

However. A. it's not a true part of Islam, so attacking it from the Islam perspective is not helpful-- not one bit. Yes, it primarily occurs in various Islamic cultures but then again so lots of things not necessarily sanctioned or part of the religion. So if you come at it from that perspective, you're never going to be doing any good when it comes to actually focusing on the real problem, and it will appear that another agenda is in play. Finally, B. this particular case does not really fit into honor killing anyway, so it's a bad jumping off point as well.
posted by cell divide at 4:57 PM on February 22, 2007


Let's say there are 100 in culture A, which is non-Muslim, and 100 in culture B, which is Muslim.
...
It needn't be strictly one or the other.
...
B does not follow from A.


I said potential causes not proven causes. There may be a link, and there may not be. However, when the number of similar murders is as high as it is, this angle certainly merits investigation, no matter how much the PC police whines.

Yes, it primarily occurs in various Islamic cultures but then again so lots of things not necessarily sanctioned or part of the religion.

Neither I nor Muslims who commit honour killings give a rat's ass about what's sanctioned by the religion... and furthermore, I doubt there's a bulletproof consensus about this issue. The problem is with the cultural practice, not whether it is sanctioned or unsanctioned.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:14 PM on February 23, 2007


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