Several days prior to the transmission of the 10th Annual Report on International Religious Freedom to Congress by Secretary of State Rice, the world began receiving news of three teenage girls shot and buried alive in Pakistan for attempting to choose their own husbands. Two women daring to intervene on behalf of the girls were also murdered. And so it is, that honor has been restored to the families of the dead women. In Pakistan’s national parliament, a lawmaker from the region where the murders took place defended the killings: women who behave properly need not fear being shot and buried alive.
Du’a al-Sawad, the seventeen year old Kurdish girl stoned to death by an angry mob of Iraqi men, was remembered recently. Her honorable death last year was captured on cell phone video and uploaded to the Net. For the curious, it took Du’a about five minutes to die. Her skirt kept rising as she rolled in the dirt attempting to dodge rocks and feet, fighting to live – struggling to maintain modesty even in her last moments. She was wearing black panties – like the panties my daughter and my nieces wear who are all close to Du’a’s age. Or the age Du’a was – the age she will be forever. A man with a cell phone pulled her skirt down, covering her – then kicking her. It has been reported that some local citizens, including her uncle who authorized her murder are upset by the stoning. Death by electrocution would have been more humane. Du’a was caught talking to the wrong boy. She swore to her mother she was a good girl. She had done nothing shameful. It must be of comfort to some that her virginity was found to be intact during her autopsy.
Sarah and Amina Said of Irving, Texas - beautiful young daughters of Egyptian immigrant Yaser Abdel Said who was known to be furious about how “western culture was corrupting” his girls’ chastity, found dead, riddled with bullets in the back of their father’s abandoned taxi early this year. Their mother had tried to hide them. She told others that she feared for the lives of her daughters – at her husband’s hands. The girls discussed their own fear at school with friends. But their father found them. Sarah did not perish immediately and was able to call 911 to report that she was dying. And then she did die, next to her sister. Sarah and Amina were seventeen and eighteen years old.
These particular types of murders happen daily. These particular types of murders happen all over the world. These particular types of murders happen in the wide open. These particular types of murders go unpunished or are punished minimally. These particular types of murders have everything to do with the extremist interpretation of religious text.
The time is passed for courteous and politically correct discussion as to the danger that is a theocratic form of government which ignores extremism. Same goes for governments recognizing an "official" religion. The time has come for the American government to strenuously protect those who come to this country subjugated to the will of the men who abide by extremist teachings and interpretations of their religious text and who ignore the fundamental tenets of American jurisprudence which are life and liberty. Certainly freedom to practice one’s religion does not take precedent over another’s right to live? Not in this country. It is one thing to say that the government of a people disavows support for the cultural or tribal customs which allow honor killings. It is another thing all together for that same government to have full knowledge that the police stand by and often watch the killings carried out. It is despicable and wholly unacceptable for a member of government to defend such actions by mouth and as in Jordan several years ago, by vote.
It is not an affront to Islam to denounce the failure of a country’s government to protect the women subject to its rule, any more than it is an affront to Christianity to maintain that the murders of the women in Salem for witchcraft were shameful occurrences in America’s history. Exodus 22:18 plainly reads “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” and yet to support dragging Wiccans or those suspected of the practice to the pyre this day and age is beyond ludicrous - and damned scary.
It is an affront to Islam to suggest that all Muslims believe in honor killings as it is an affront to Christianity to suggest that all Christians believe Jim Jones had every right to dispense the red Kool-aid or that allowing children to die from infections which are curable with simple antibiotics is a religious choice that must be respected. It is an affront to humanity for some journalists to minimize the religious aspect of honor killings or worse yet, to analogize it to domestic violence which is not alleged to have been divinely inspired.