Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The religion of pieces takes on British Muslim women

A surprisingly frank report from Al-Reuters:

Rukhsana Naz was 19 when her mother pinned her to the floor of their family house and her brother strangled her with a length of plastic cable. Sahjda Bibi, 21, was preparing to celebrate her wedding when her cousin stabbed her 22 times with a kitchen knife. The father of 16-year-old Heshu Yones slit her throat because he disapproved of her Western habits and non-Muslim boyfriend. All were victims of "honor killings," murdered by relatives who believed they had brought shame on their families through their behavior or choice of boyfriend, husband or lover. Until recently, honor crime was rarely reported and often misunderstood in Britain, viewed as something which happened elsewhere -- mainly in the Middle East or southern Asia. But a series of gruesome killings has forced Britons to recognize that such crimes, although still rare, are committed here too, often within the country's large ethnic Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani communities. *** Nazir Afzal, director of Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in west London where there is a large south Asian community, says there have been at least a dozen honor killings in the country in the past year. "And murder is just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "There are other crimes, like rape, abduction and physical violence, which we would consider steps on the stairway to murder." ON THE RISE The CPS, which decides whether to press charges against suspects in British criminal cases, says such crimes are on the rise, particularly since the July 7 London bombings. The bombs, which killed 52 people on the city's transport system, were planted by four Islamist suicide bombers, all of them British. That shone a harsh spotlight on the country's 1.6 million Muslims and, according to the CPS, prompted some Muslim families to turn in on themselves, with worrying consequences. "I've certainly seen more cases of honor crime since July 7," said Afzal. "When communities perceive themselves to be under threat they tend to turn in on themselves, regardless of whether that perception has any basis in fact. "They try to restore and reinforce their own social norms. They put pressure on their own members to conform, and if they don't conform there is sometimes some kind of retribution." Specialists on violence against women also say social cultural changes, partly spread by globalization and mass media, have left men from southern Asia feeling threatened and women are bearing the brunt of their fear.
Watch this weird double talk as the CPS representative says it's not just Muslims committing these crimes, it's people all over Europe -- and, by the way, they happen to be Muslim:
The CPS stresses honor crime is not just a Muslim issue. "I'm aware of crimes being committed in Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, and also within those communities in this country," Afzal said. "That said, the bulk of these crimes involve the South Asian community and in particular the Muslim community."