New Year’s Day 2008, in Lewisville Texas, teenage sisters Sarah and Amina Said were shot to death in a taxi—allegedly by their Egyptian Muslim father, a taxi driver charged with the murders but still at large.

His motive? They had dated non-Muslim boys.

A month earlier, across the border in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death by her Pakistani father for refusing to wear the hijab or head scarf. She was also “guilty” of changing into Western clothes once she got to school.

On July 6, 2008 twenty-five year old Sandeela Kanwal was strangled to death, allegedly by her father, Chaudhry Rashid, 54 in Atlanta, GA. Two months ago Kamwal had fled her groom in an unhappy arranged marriage and wanted to divorce. Father and daughter had not spoken since.

These four women were victims of so-called “Honor Killings,” not sanctioned by Islam’s holy book, the Koran, but tolerated and criminally overlooked in many Muslim countries. The United Nations Populations Fund estimates 5000 such killings occur annually worldwide, though they are vastly underreported.

The horrific statement such crimes make about women as disposables in extremist Islam exposes a frightening and repulsive subtext of Americans apparently unwilling or unable to leave barbaric practices in the “old country.” While many American Muslims are working to build bridges with non-Muslim neighbors, “honor killings” feed a national distrust of Islam, still raging since 9/11.

Though Islamic religious law does not sanction the killing of women in cases such as these, it does breed a misogyny too extreme to respect logic, reason and compassion. Women cannot drive cars or speak to a male stranger without severe punishment. When such primitive patriarchal dominance subjects intelligent, educated and reasonable women to the whims of sometimes uneducated, unreasonable and fanatical males, the consequences will eventually reach criminal stages.

The women will rebel, at their peril, and the men will react in the extreme. Ironically, in fanatic Islamic circles, the murdered victim is disgraced as the one who brought shame to the family while the male murderer is defended as the injured party.

In all of the above cases, the fathers are said to have had a history of physically and/or sexually abusing the young women before murdering them. And though Mrs. Said did flee to another state with her daughters, her husband’s fixation that “Western culture was corrupting the chastity of his daughters, “ as the Dallas Morning News describes it, gave murder better odds than attempted escape. Generally mothers and siblings do not go to authorities, or file charges at any point.

American justice cannot tolerate misogynistic violence and death in the name of “honor” any more than it can allow parents to leave unwanted female children on a hillside to die, as the ancients did.

The embrace of “hungry masses yearning to breathe free…” is the promise of one famous Lady to all comers—male and female. Those who cannot accept equality under the law here must be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

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Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
Italy Series of articles runs Aug./Sept/Oct 2015

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