Saturday, January 16, 2010

Honor Killers: Prosecuted in Europe, Seen as Psychiatric Victims in America

When it comes to honor killings and honor-related violence, America had better start learning a few things from Europe.

On October 20, 2009, near Phoenix, Arizona, Noor Al-Maleki’s father, Iraqi-born Faleh Hassan Al-Maleki, ran over his 20-year-old daughter with a two-ton jeep.

He struck down her female companion and protector as well. His daughter died. Although she was seriously wounded, Amal Edan Khalaf, the other woman, survived. Just like Yaser Said, who fled Dallas after honor murdering his two daughters (and who has not yet been found), Faleh Hassan Al-Maleki also fled, first to Mexico, and then to England.

However, he was captured, extradited back to Arizona, and charged with first-degree murder.

Well done!

The case has been described, correctly, as an “honor killing.” Poor Noor did not want to remain in an arranged marriage and dared to find a fiancée on her own. When she died, she had been living with her fiancée and with her future mother-in-law. Now comes Arizona lawyer Billie Little, who is Faleh Hassan Al-Maleki’s lawyer.

Guess what Mr. Little told the judge? According to Arizona Central, because Andrew Thomas, the prosecutor in the case, is a Christian, Mr. Little actually wrote: “An open process provides some level of assurance that there is no appearance that a Christian is seeking to execute a Muslim for racial, political, religious or cultural beliefs.”

Let me understand this. Mr. Little does not want the judge to view a murder as a murder because a Muslim committed that murder? Or because only a Muslim was murdered—and that somehow counts for less? From my own research, published in Middle East Quarterly, it is clear that honor killing is primarily a Muslim-on-Muslim crime. After all, Noor was a Muslim too. And, an honor killing is not like Western domestically violent femicide. Western fathers do not kill their young daughters. (And, by the way, does Noor have a mother? If so, where is she? Why is she so silent?)

Clearly, Al-Maleki became judge, jury, and executioner when he took the law into his own hands to punish his daughter because, in his view, she was too western and therefore not a good Muslim. What does that make him? A good Muslim? Or a really bad Muslim?

Perhaps Islam is not and should not be on trial here but Muslim customs, Muslim behavior surely is. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. How can the prosecutor not mention it? And, once mentioned, how easy it will be to gain pity for the poor, allegedly “racially profiled” murderer.

In addition, Mr. Little is demanding that his client be psychiatrically evaluated because “he does not understand basic court proceedings.”

I wonder: Is Mr. Little consulting with Muzzammil Hassan’s lawyer in Buffalo? He’s the Pakistani-born charmer who severely battered and then beheaded his lovely wife Aasiya. Hassan’s lawyer is arguing “extreme emotional disturbance.”

This is rather ironic since this kind of defense has been used, often unsuccessfully, on behalf of battered women.

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