Honor Killing and Even More Proof You REALLY Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s “Scholarship”

Coran and Spencer

Michael Coren and Robert Spencer

by Ilisha

It was a trial that captured headlines across Canada—the so-called “honor killing” of three teenage sisters and their father’s first wife in a quadruple murder staged to look like an accident.

On January 27, the girls’ brother, Hamed, 21, and their parents, Mohammad Shafia, 58, and Tooba Yahya, 42, were each found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. All received the maximum sentence of life in prison.

On police wiretaps captured in the days following the murders, a remorseless Mohammad Shafia referred to his slain daughters as treacherous whores who had “betrayed Islam.”  The family is originally from Afghanistan, and sweeping statements about their cultural and religious background have put Canada’s Muslims on the defensive.

Imams across Canada and the US responded by issuing a fatwa declaring honor killing, domestic violence, and misogyny as “un-Islamic.” Nevertheless, the murders have prompted a fresh wave of anti-Islamic sentiment, and the usual assortment of crackpots have seized this tantalizing opportunity to vilify Islam.

Pseudo-scholar Robert Spencer recently discussed the case on Sun TV with English-Canadian talk show host and fascist sympathizer, Michael Coren. The 13-minute segment appears at the end of this article.

Spencer’s Five Big Lies about honor killings are refuted in this article, in order of appearance.

1. A Bogus Statistic

Spencer began with the baseless assertion that, “91% of honor killings worldwide take place among Muslims.” What is the source of Spencer’s statistic?

He makes the same claim on his website, Jihad Watch, and links to an article on the Middle East Forum as the source. This is an anti-Muslim propaganda site founded by Daniel Pipes, and the article referenced is authored by Phyllis Chesler, who is yet another rabid Islamophobe. Chesler cites an ill-defined “study” as the ultimate source of this statistic:

This study analyzes 172 incidents and 230 honor-killing victims. The information was obtained from the English-language media around the world with one exception. There were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe. There were 130 additional victims in the Muslim world. Most of the perpetrators were Muslims, as were their victims, and most of the victims were women.

The “methodology” she describes is filled with weasel words, and it’s unclear who actually conducted the study or for what purpose. Culling 172 incidents from self-selected articles in the English-language media does not constitute a valid sample.

In the very same article, Chesler concedes, “Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist.” Then how has she managed to glean a precise statistic of 91%?

We have already covered this alleged “epidemic” of honor killings extensively in a previous article, Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t, where Chesler’s “logic” was exposed as absurd:

Taking her study at face value, do you think 33 honor killings constitutes an epidemic?  Stinging insects kill more than 40 people each year in the US, which is more than the number of honor killings Chesler reported over the course of her study for all of North America.  Chesler says, “to combat the epidemic [emphasis mine] of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique.”

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, have all said that honor killings cut across cultural and religious lines. No credible organization cites a statistic that supports Robert Spencer’s assertion, which Phyllis Chesler seems to have pulled out of her hat.

2. Misinterpretation and Misuse of The Reliance of the Traveller

Coren asked Spencer if it’s true that there is Qur’anic and Sharia support for honor killings, and Spencer said, “Absolutely, Michael,” and, ”Islamic Law stipulates there’s no penalty for a parent who kills a child.” As we have already established in a previous article, this is a blatant lie:

In a pathetic attempt to prove Islam sanctions honor killings, the loons have dredged up  ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago. A convoluted interpretation of select passages has gone viral, and is now routinely cited on the pages of hate sites and in comments on numerous articles related to honor killing.

Geller quotes a section of The Traveller on her website that says certain crimes, including the killing of one’s offspring, are not subject to retaliation, implying Muslim parents have a free pass to murder their children under Islamic Law, which is a bold faced LIE. Retaliation is a form of reciprocal justice, lex talionis, commonly known as “an eye for an eye.”

A crime that is not subject to retaliation can still be punished by other means. Restrictions on reciprocal justice in the Qur’an were meant to reduce blood feuds and the cycle of vengeance. The concept of retaliation is also found in Jewish and Christian scriptures, and like honor killing, traces back to the ancient Code of Hammurabi.

Even if The Traveller sanctioned honor killing (which it doesn’t), it would be the interpretation of one Islamic cleric who lived centuries ago, and not a formal part of Islamic Law. Sharia is drawn primarily from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and neither sanctions honor killing.

Honor killing is a form of murder where the victim is denied a fair trial, which is contrary to Islamic law. Islam forbids acts of murder and vigilantism, and likens the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33).

Is Sharia exceptionally harsh or extremely lenient, even in the case of a serious crime like murder? Apparently it’s whatever suits Spencer’s agenda at the moment. In any case, a “renowned scholar” should certainly understand the ancient concept of reciprocal justice.

Is Spencer ignorant or deliberately deceptive?

3. The Case of Syria and Jordan

Spencer cites “relatively moderate” Muslim-majority Jordan and Syria in an effort to provide real-world examples of Sharia-sanctioned honor killing. His examples fall short in two major ways.

First, although a single honor killing is one too many, these murders are not epidemic. Jordan has around 15-20 honor killings each year, and Syria has about 200. Both of these Muslim-majority countries have low overall homicide rates, in contrast to many countries in the non-Muslim world, most notably in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Central and Southern Africa.

Second, Syria and Jordan have mixed legal systems largely based on French Law, derived from the Napoleonic Code. In Syria, Articles 192, 242, and 548 have historically been invoked to reduce sentences in honor killing cases, and all are derived from the Napoleonic Code, not Sharia.

Syria’s Grand Mufti, Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun, has unequivocally condemned honor killing. Hassoun specifically condemned Article 548, which has since been amended as part of Syria’s ongoing effort to abolish honor killings.

In Jordan, Articles 340 and 98 have historically been invoked to reduce sentences in honor killing cases, and they also derive from the Napoleonic Code, not Sharia.

While Spencer was correct when he said some religious and cultural conservatives in Jordan have resisted legal reform, Queen Rania and King Abudllah II have been outspoken advocates. In a report released last November, the United Nations praised Jordan for amending Article 340 so that it no longer exonerates the perpetrators of honor killings.

Spencer’s examples fall short because neither Jordan nor Syria has a high rate of homicides of any kind, and the legal loopholes in question are primarily a legacy of French colonialism, not Sharia. However, Coren asks no questions of substance, so it’s on to the next lie.

4. Khidr in Chapter 18 of the Qur’an

Spencer tries to “prove” honor killings are supported in the Qur’an, citing the well known story of Khidr in the 18th chapter as a justification.  From Jihad Watch:

Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 18, “The Cave,” verses 60-82

Verses 60-82 of Sura 18 contain one of the strangest, most arresting stories in the entire Qur’an: that of the journey of Moses and Khidr, one of the great road-trip stories of all time…

In Islamic tradition this man is identified as Al-Khadir or Al-Khidr, or, more commonly, Khidr, “the Green Man.” Some identify him as one of the prophets, others as a wali, a Muslim saint….

…Khidr murders a young man in an apparently random act, and Moses criticizes him again (v. 74)…

…Khidr killed the young man because he would grieve his pious parents with his “rebellion and ingratitude” (v. 80), and Allah will give them a better son (v. 81)….

…Another point emerges in Islamic tradition: don’t kill children, unless you know they’re going to grow up to be unbelievers. “The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the children, so thou shouldst not kill them unless you could know what Khadir had known about the child he killed, or you could distinguish between a child who would grow up to he a believer (and a child who would grow up to be a non-believer), so that you killed the (prospective) non-believer and left the (prospective) believer aside.” The assumption thus enunciated may help explain the persistence of the phenomenon of honor-killing in Islamic countries and even among Muslims in the West…

Notice the child was not related to Khidr, and there was no honor motive. This “apparently random act” doesn’t fit the profile of a so-called “honor killing.”

The story is meant to convey the message that believers should have faith in God’s wisdom. Events may seem harsh and inexplicable, but when the veil is lifted and the broader truth is exposed, the believer will see that what has happened is ultimately for the best.

Spencer provided no examples of any Muslim citing the story of Khidr as a justification for honor killing, nor did he mention any scholars who have adopted his interpretation. In fact, the story of Khidr has historically been associated with charity and good works in the Islamic world.  

As for the Hadith Spencer quoted (Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4457), Muslims are instructed not to kill children, “…unless you could know what Khadir had known.  Khidr was granted eternal life and bestowed with direct knowledge of God’s will, which no ordinary Muslim can claim. It is simply not possible to know whether a child will grow up to be a believer, so it makes no sense to use this as a justification for murder.

In fact, it is widely known that Islam has always condemned infanticide, a common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia. The Qur’an  forbids the killing of children, expressly in 6:151 and 60:12, and implicitly in 2:49, 7:127, 7:141, 14:6, 28:4, and 40:25. Why would a “renowned scholar” of Islam be unaware of the many verses in the Qur’an that directly contradict his claims?

Is Spencer ignorant or deliberately deceptive? 

5. Islam and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

Spencer also claims that the Judeo-Christian tradition sends the “opposite message” with respect to killing children, specifically citing Genesis 22:1-13 as an example.  In this Old Testament story, the Prophet Abraham was poised to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord, but just as he placed a knife to the boy’s neck, God sent an angel to intercede, and Isaac was spared.

The same story exists in the Qur’an and carries the same moral message. The major difference is that Isaac is replaced by Abraham’s other son, Ishmael. A “renowned scholar” of Islam should surely be aware of the corresponding story in the Qur’an (The Rank Makers 37:100-109).

In fact, numerous verses in the Bible recount the killing of children, and stipulate harsh punishments, including the death penalty. The following is not a comprehensive list:

Exodus 21:17

17 Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

Leviticus Chapters 20 and 21 also stipulate harsh punishments for dishonoring parents and committing adultery:

Leviticus 20:9-13

9 If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

10 If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Leviticus 21:9

9 If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

Deuteronommy (13:6-10) says if your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” … You must stone him or her to death. Death by stoning is also the punishment stipulated for a “stubborn and rebellious” son in 21:18-21.

In Judges (11:30-40), Jephthah killed his young daughter (and only child) by burning her alive to fulfill his vow to God, in exchange for a victory in battle.

In 2 Kings (2:23-25), when youngsters made fun of the Prophet Elisha’s bald head, he called down a curse “in the name of the Lord,”and two bears came out of the woods and tore 42 of the youths to pieces.

As a Catholic and self-proclaimed religious scholar, it seems reasonable to assume Spencer has read the Bible, so what explains this glaring double standard?

Is Spencer ignorant or deliberately deceptive? 

The bottom line is that honor killings are not Islamic. Spencer’s lies, no matter how often they’re repeated, can’t change that fundamental truth.

 

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Mass Honor Killing Delights Loons

Shafia Trial

The Shafia murder trial currently underway in Ontario, Canada is a public relations bonanza for anti-Muslim bigots who have made so-called “Islamic honor killings” a major theme in their campaign to vilify Muslims. Three of Mohammad Shafia’s daughters and his first wife were found dead in a car submerged in a shallow canal two years ago in what prosecutors say was a quadruple murder staged to look like an accident.

Mohammad Shafia, 58, his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and their son Hamed, who was 18 at the time of the incident, have each been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Shafia is a wealthy Montreal businessman originally from Afghanistan, who was apparently living in a polygamous arrangement with his first (infertile) wife, his second wife, and their seven children. After leaving Afghanistan in 1992, the family had lived in Dubai, Pakistan and Australia before settling in Quebec, Canada.

Two summers ago on a return trip from a Niagara Falls vacation, the family checked into a Kingston hotel for the night. Early the next morning, police found the family’s wrecked sedan in the nearby Kingston Mill locks.

Inside were the bodies of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, and Mohammad’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 52. Autopsies indicated all four victims had drowned.

At first, the couple told police their eldest daughter had taken the sedan for a joyride without their permission, resulting in a tragic accident. Inconsistencies in their story left police suspicious, and evidence found at the scene contradicted their account.

Investigators said the sedan would have had to travel past a locked gate, over a concrete curb and a rocky outcrop, and then make two U-turns to wind up in the locks of the canal. Damage found on both vehicles indicates that Mohammad Shafia’s SUV pushed the sedan into the shallow canal at an isolated, unlit location.

Police seized a laptop from the family’s Montreal home they said was owned by Shafia but used by his son Hamed. In the weeks leading up to the alleged murder, forensic experts found incriminating phrases had been entered in the Google search engine, including “Where to commit a murder,” “Can a prisoner have control over their real estate,” and ”Montreal jail.”

Shafia’s chilling statements captured on police wiretaps suggest he orchestrated the death of his daughters because they consorted with boys and dishonored his family with their defiant behavior:

“They committed treason on themselves. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam. They betrayed our religion…they betrayed everything.”

An apparently remorseless Shafia told his second wife that when he views the cell phone photos of Zainab and Sahar posing with their boyfriends or in suggestive clothing, he is consoled, saying:

“I say to myself, ‘You did well.’ Were they come to life, I would do it again.”

The trial has received intense media coverage in Canada, but in the US, coverage has been mostly confined to anti-Muslim hatemongers and outrage peddlers. Frontpage Magazine, a site run by anti-Muslim loon David Horowitz, prompted some hate-filled comments from readers responding to an article about the Shafia trial:

“IslamoFascist Pigs will continue to carry out the tenets of Islam because they are 7th Century barbarians in the 21st Century. It’s unfortunate that Canada doesn’t have a death penalty.”

“…The West is drinking poison, we need to puke it out and close the door and seal every crack to keep this evil out.”

An article on The Blaze, a right wing website founded by former Fox News host Glenn Beck, provoked over 200 colorful comments, including:

“These towelheads think they are above the law. I don’t know what its going to take to wake up our country and it’s leaders.”

“ISLAM THE MUSLIM BARBARIC SATAN CULT! These are Dictator Barack Hussein Obamas chosen people! The SHARIA-LAW IS ALREADY STARTING IN OUR AMERICA!”

“Gee…if Muslims keep this up there won’t be a ‘problem’ with them. I say we need to keep hands off and let this run its course.”

“Nuke Mecca, Nuke Medina. Peace through Strength, Strength through Superior Firepower.”

Pamela Geller’s website Atlas Shrugs is also covering the story, and her readers appear to be equally hateful, paranoid, and in some cases, unaware that Afghans are not Arabs:

“Muslim DOGS is what they are… Arab DOGS!”

“Just another moderate Muslim. And that is not tongue-in-cheek. DEPORT ALL OF THEM.”

“The pathetic politically-correct wussies in the canadian parliament have totally rolled-over and caved to these islamo-crazies. Sharia will be the law of the land in canada within the next three years. It’s time to beef up our northern border.”

Notice that these comments are not confined to outrage over this specific crime, but are a wholesale denunciation of all Muslims and the Islamic religion, as well as calls for violence, deportation, and even genocide. Comments consistently expressed a visceral hatred of Muslims, belief in a sinister left-Islamist alliance, and paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over and imposing Sharia (Islamic Law) in the Western world.

Geller has a section on her website entitled, “Honor Killings: Islam Misogyny,” where she frequently repeats the lie that honor killings are sanctioned by Islamic Law.  She describes honor killing in America as, “a grotesque manifestation of [S]haria law abrogating American law,” and warns that “creeping [S]haria” will bring a myriad of barbaric practices to the US if  “Islamic supremacists” are not stopped.

The fact is that honor killings are not religiously or legally sanctioned by Islam. Rafia Zakaria is a lawyer, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, and the Director for Amnesty International USA.  Zakaria is also a Muslim feminist and a regular contributor to Ms.blog Magazine, which covers contemporary women’s issues. On the subject of honor killing, she has said:

“That is one of the black and white statements I can make. There is absolutely nothing, either in the Qur’an or in the Hadith, or even in any secondary source that says that honor killing is something that Muslims should do or can do or that is lawful.”

Honor killing is an ancient practice that can be linked to the ancient Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, circa 1700 BC.  Barbara Kay, a harsh critic of Islam who previously sparked controversy with her column, “The Rise of Quebecistan,” says the first honor killing in Judeo-Christian civilization is recorded in the Bible in Genesis 34.  She relates the story here.

Some Muslims, a minority mistakenly believe that “honor killing” is permitted in Islam, and Mohammad Shafia’s statements in the wake of his daughters’ deaths suggest he shares this misconception, conflating culture and faith. For this reason, it is important to spread the news that Islam does NOT condone these killings, yet anti-Muslim bigots who claim they care about Muslim women are doing the opposite.

In a pathetic attempt to prove Islam sanctions honor killings, the loons have dredged up  ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago. A convoluted interpretation of select passages has gone viral, and is now routinely cited on the pages of hate sites and in comments on numerous articles related to honor killing.

Geller quotes a section of The Traveller on her website that says certain crimes, including the killing of one’s offspring, are not subject to retaliation, implying Muslim parents have a free pass to murder their children under Islamic Law, which is a bold faced LIE. Retaliation is a form of reciprocal justice, lex talionis, commonly known as “an eye for an eye.”

A crime that is not subject to retaliation can still be punished by other means. Restrictions on reciprocal justice in the Qur’an were meant to reduce blood feuds and the cycle of vengeance. The concept of retaliation is also found in Jewish and Christian scriptures, and like honor killing, traces back to the ancient Code of Hammurabi.

Even if The Traveller sanctioned honor killing (which it doesn’t), it would be the interpretation of one Islamic cleric who lived centuries ago, and not a formal part of Islamic Law. Sharia is drawn primarily from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and neither sanctions honor killing.

Of course Geller is only parroting a common anti-Muslim talking point pushed by her teacher in all things Islamic, Robert Spencer. Spencer, since the launch of JihadWatch has tried his utmost to find an Islamic text that he could contort and link to “honor killings.”

His one method has been to cite the well known story of Khidr in the 18th chapter of the Qur’an as such a justification for “honor killing” in Islam:

Khidr killed the young man because he would grieve his pious parents with his “rebellion and ingratitude” (v. 80), and Allah (SWT) will give them a better son (v. 81).

…[further down states]…

Another point emerges in Islamic tradition: don’t kill children, unless you know they’re going to grow up to be unbelievers. “The Messenger of Allah (SWT) (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the children, so thou shouldst not kill them unless you could know what Khidr had known about the child he killed, or you could distinguish between a child who would grow up to he a believer (and a child who would grow up to be a non-believer), so that you killed the (prospective) non-believer and left the (prospective) believer aside.” The assumption thus enunciated may help explain the persistence of the phenomenon of honor-killing in Islamic countries and even among Muslims in the West.

Robert Spencer shamelessly tries to mislead the reader into thinking there is some textual justification for honor killing. Seeking Ilm, a traditional conservative Muslim website takes Spencer to task for this and sheds light on the above falsities, debunking Spencer’s mythical explanation:

Such an explanation is not at all mentioned by the scholars of old or of late. None understood this story to mean that it is permitted to kill children if they will be an unbeliever.

It goes on to discuss the tradition mentioned by Spencer: first the speaker is a disciple of the Prophet Muhammad known as Ibn Abbas; second, the wording of the tradition cited by Spencer is from a shaadh (peculiar) narration of the said tradition and is therefore “weaker” and not “accepted”; third, it is narrated differently in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (one of the most authoritative books of tradition) with only these words,

“Verily the Messenger of God (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not kill children, so do not kill children, unless you know what Al-Khidr knew when he killed the child.”

The Seeking Ilm folks go on to write,

The fact is it is impossible to know what Al-Khidr knew. Imam An-Nawawi (1234-1278 CE), recognized as one of the most brilliant Muslim jurists and judges to have lived, explained these words in his commentary upon the Sahih of Imam Muslim:

“It means: Verily it is not permitted to kill them (i.e. children), nor is it permitted for you to make a connection to the story of Al-Khidr utilizing it to kill children. For verily, Al-Khidr did not kill except by the command of God, the exalted, as this was specifically allotted to him just as was mentioned in the end of the story [of khidr], “And I did it not of my own accord.” So [Ibn ‘Abbas is saying] if you came to know of such from a child then he is to be killed. And it is known such cannot be known [by a person] and so it is not permitted to kill him.” ((Sharh Sahih Muslim: Translated by Seekingilm team ))

What is also important to mention is that Imam Nawawi himself, the great Dr. in Hadith and commentator of the Sahih, places this hadith beneath the chapter title, “Women Participants in Jihad are to be Given Reward but not Part of the Spoils, and the Prohibition of Killing Children of the People of War.” This fact stresses our point that the Muslims  did not extract the meaning claimed by Robert Spencer. If Robert Spencer and crew did not get all of what we just stated, let us sum it up for the idiots out there: one of the most prominent scholars for all Muslims is clearly stating that killing children is not permitted based upon this verse, as knowledge of the child’s future is not certain save by revelation from God, as was received by Al-Khidr. Even Moses, according to the story, did not know of the plight of the child, so how is it that a layman is to know of such? Furthermore, Imam An-Nawawi known as the second Imam Ash-Shafi’i, is stating that it is totally forbidden to kill children. The fact is Spencer’s null attempt at utilizing this statement for his own fear-mongering and islamophobic agenda only shows anyone with any knowledge of Islamic law how horridly ignorant Robert Spencer is of Islam.

Horridly ignorant is right!

In any case, it seems highly unlikely that the Canadian court will consult a centuries-old manual on Islamic jurisprudence to determine sentencing in the Shafia case.

Loons, who are clearly unhinged from reality, insist liberal “wussies” are caving in to “Islamo-crazies” and will allow Muslims to invoke Sharia to get away with murder in Western courtrooms.  Apparently they see no contradiction between their belief that Islamic Law is soft on crime and simultaneously, exceptionally harsh and barbaric.

Outside of the loons’ fevered imaginations, Sharia is not a factor in the Shafia trial. The accused will be subject to the Law of Canada, and if convicted, all three face life in prison.

Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t

Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t

My previous article describes how anti-Muslim bigots use young Muslim murder victims as props in their campaign of hate.  Sensational headlines, haunting photographs, and lurid tales of cold blooded murder are indispensable tools in their campaign to vilify Islam.   This campaign is bolstered by a set of core themes that are reinforced through tireless repetition.

Islamophobes portray honor killings as a special kind of evil that is unique to Islam, and greatly exaggerate the prevalence of these crimes.  Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, and Frontpage Magazine rarely miss an opportunity use the phrase “Islamic honor killing,” which has joined “creeping sharia” and “stealth jihad” in an endless parade of misleading slogans and catchphrases.  All of these themes converge in paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over and imposing barbarism in the Western world.

Most of their arguments depend on casual acceptance and do not stand up to scrutiny.  With the help of some grade school math, relevant facts, and a healthy dose of global context, it is fairly easy to set the record straight.

The term “honor killing” was not coined by Islamophobes, even though it serves their agenda well.  Many human rights organizations track honor killings as a subcategory of homicides or femicides (killing of women).  For our purposes, that’s a good thing because it allows us to refute the idea of widespread honor killings using statistics from credible sources.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates there are 5,000 murders classified as honor killings each year worldwide, and they are not all perpetrated by Muslims.  To put that into perspective, consider that the World Health Organization says there are over half a million annual homicides in the world. Using basic math, we can conclude that honor killings make up less than 1% of all murders.

If 1% of the world’s Muslims perpetrated an honor crime each year, we could project at least 1 million incidents.   The number is far lower, and leaves 99.99% of the Muslim population innocent of this crime.  Why should all Muslims be indicted for the actions of a negligible minority?

Pamela Geller says, “over 90% of honor killings worldwide are Islamic,” and Robert Spencer quotes the exact figure at 91%.  Spencer links to an article on the Middle East Forum as the source of this statistic. This is an anti-Muslim propaganda site founded by Daniel Pipes, and the articlethere is authored by Phyllis Chesler, who is yet another rabid Islamophobe.

Chesler quotes the same estimate of 5,000 annual honor killings worldwide, but she says the true number is “much greater.” “Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist,” she concedes, yet she is somehow certain the the number is much greater.

She cites a study of the media throughout her article, which found, “there were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe.” Taking her study at face value, do you think 33 honor killings constitutes an epidemic?  Stinging insects kill more than 40 people each year in the US, which is more than the number of honor killings Chesler reported over the course of her study for all of North America.  Chesler says, “to combat the epidemic [emphasis mine] of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique.”

In the US, an estimated 1200 women are killed by their spouse or partner each year.  Chesler herself states that, “In the non-immigrant West, serious domestic violence exists which includes incest, child abuse, marital rape, marital battering, marital stalking, and marital post-battering femicide.” Yet for some reason, she feels it is more important to focus on the unique nature of honor killings than to address the broader issue of violence in her own country.

To her credit, Chesler does not blame honor killings on Sharia Law, nor does she say these crimes are religiously sanctioned in Islam. Instead she resorts to blaming them on Islamic culture. The Director of Human Rights Watch says that honor killings cut across cultures and religions, and that dowry deaths and crimes of passion have a similar dynamic.

Dowry killings actually outnumber honor killings, and they are on the rise. Women with insufficient dowries are murdered or driven to suicide in what are often disguised as kitchen accidents. For this reason they are sometimes called “bride burnings.” In 2008, there were over 8,000 dowry deathsreported in India alone.

Murders for crossing caste boundaries are also similar to honor killings in that they are a cultural inheritance, victims are usually killed by their own family members, and the crimes are oftenendorsed or encouraged by village-based caste councils. The caste system is outlawed, but it remains entrenched in parts of India and Nepal, neither of which has a Muslim majority.

Honor killings also share features with other forms of femicide outside of the Middle East and South Asia.  Just a 10-15 minute drive from El Paso, Texas, USA, there is a border town in Mexico called Ciudad Juarez. Over the last two decades hundreds of women have been kidnaped, brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in Juarez, and the perpetrators remain free.  Femicides in Mexico have nearly doubled from 1,085 in 2007 to 1,926 in 2009.

There were nearly 700 murders of women in neighboring Guatemala in 2010, and 1,110 reported cases of femicide in Honduras between 2008 and 2010.  Of the cases in Honduras, only a 211 made it to court, and a mere 4.2% resulted in a conviction.

High rates of homicide and femicide also plague many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape is used as a weapon of war in a systematic pattern of destruction that has claimed an estimated 2 million victims. The conflict in the Congo has resulted inmore deaths than the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Darfur (Sudan) combined.

The United Nations says, “The brutality and scale of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo almost defies imagination.” Over five million people have died in the last 10 years in what 60 Minutes described as a “War Against Women.

Imagine the photos Geller could harvest for “Islam’s Gruesome  Gallery,” featured on her website Atlas Shrugs, if only this were an Islamic country.  Since the overwhelming majority of the people in the Congo are Christians, these crimes don’t receive the spotlight on anti-Muslim hate sites.

How can anyone genuinely interested in the rights of women ignore the situation in the Congo? Even if Islamophobes could substantiate their claims that honor killings are exceptionally barbaric and unique to Islam, that would not be a justification focusing on them exclusively.

True human rights activists don’t discriminate among murder victims.  All major human rights organizations address honor killings in context, and they do not promote these crimes as a way to spread fear and hatred toward Islam.  Islam also takes a universal approach, likening the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33).

In her book proposal for Stop the Islamization of America, Geller described herself as, “One of America’s foremost activists for human rights and freedom.” If she were sincere, she would give up her vicious campaign against Islam and join us in the struggle to end violence against women from all cultural and religious backgrounds.

“Islamic” Honor Killings and Crocodile Tears

Loonwatchers, please welcome Ilisha our newest contributor. She will be focusing on issues of women and Islam.

This month Pamella Geller published a book entitled, “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance,” which she describes as a “how to” guide for fighting various Islamic menaces, including “creeping sharia” and “stealth jihad.”  She also describes how Muslims, who make up less than 2% of the American population, are “Islamic Supremacists” plotting to take over every aspect of American life.

Geller has also announced plans for a future book tentatively entitled, “Sex, Murder, and Islam: Honor Killing in America. ”  She says the book will be about the “ongoing proliferation” of honor killings among immigrants to the West from Muslim countries.   Honor killings have recently become the centerpiece of Geller’s campaign against Islam, and feature prominently on her website, Atlas Shrugs.

Honor killings are not Islamic, and they are not condoned in the Qur’an.  This is a matter of fact. Honor killing is a form of murder where the victim is denied a fair trial, which is contrary to Islamic law.  Islam opposes acts of murder and vigilantism, and likens the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33).  Honor killing is a cultural inheritance which predates Islam by centuries, and  Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have all said that honor killings cut across cultural and religious lines.

Nevertheless, “Islamic” honor killings are a public relations bonanza for Islamophobes, especially when they take place in a Western country.  They are used to reinforce the notion that Islam is inherently violent and irrational, and to suggest that Muslim families view a young woman’s adoption of Western culture as a capital offense.  Isolated incidents are amplified through intense media coverage, stoking fears that Muslims are importing barbaric customs into Western countries through immigration.

Anti-Muslim hate sites including Jihadwatch, Atlas Shrugs, and Frontpage Magazine have been weeping crocodile tears for Aqsa Parvez since she was killed by her father and brother in December of 2007 in an apparent honor killing.  Both men received life sentences for their crime in June of 2010, but that hasn’t stopped Pamela Geller from continuing to exploit the incident to advance her agenda.  She recently managed to raise $5,000 in donations she used to fund a controversial memorial plaque for Aqsa Parvez in Israel.

Parvez is the ideal poster child for their campaign to vilify Islam because she was the teenage daughter of Muslim immigrants living in Ontario, Canada.  For similar reasons, Robert Spencer is exploiting the tragic death of two sisters, Sarah Yaser Said, 17, and Amina Yaser Said, 18, who were shot and killed by their father, an immigrant from Egypt, in January of 2008 in Texas.

Geller and Spencer show little interest in similar crimes when they are committed by non-Muslims.  A few months before Aqsa Parvez was killed, a gruesome video surfaced of a 17-year old Du’a Khalil Aswad in Mosul, Iraq being stoned to death by a mob while she cried out for help.  The video garnered immediate attention when it was presumed to be an “Islamic” crime, but quickly dropped out of the spotlight when it turned out the victim was a Kurdish girl from the Yazidi religion who was killed for having an Arab Muslim boyfriend.

In 2008, a man in Chicago killed his pregnant daughter, her 3-year old child, and her husband by burning down their home because she had married a man from a lower caste.  This horrific crime was ignored by the usual hate brigade because the perpetrator was a non-Muslim immigrant from India.  Robert Spencer mentioned the case on Jihadwatch only briefly, and that was to complain that media attention should be going to the murder of the Said sisters instead.

Geller’s Atlas Shrugs features a memorial page entitled, “Honor Killing: Islam’s Gruesome Gallery.”  It is indeed gruesome and serves her agenda of inspiring outrage against Islam and Muslims. Unlike the Memini (“Remembrance”) memorial for victims of honor killings from all religious backgrounds, Geller’s Gruesome Gallery is devoted exclusively to highlighting honor killings associated with Muslims.

Geller and Spencer have also been relentless in trying to get police in Tampa, Florida to reopen the case of  Fatima Abdullah, insisting she was the victim of an honor killing and subsequent cover up.   The 48-year old woman died when she fell and hit her head on a coffee table at her brother’s home.  Her brother was not home at the time of the incident.

Pamela Geller says the death is suspicious because Abdullah could not have “suicided” herself by “banging her head on a table.” Robert Spencer wrote about the Abdullah case on Jihadwatch, saying:

This is the sharia in America. The idea that a woman would die after she ‘threw herself to the floor’ or hit her head repeatedly on the coffee table is institutionalized gender apartheid, the sharia. The idea defies logic, belies reality.

As a self-proclaimed scholar on Islam, Spencer should know that Islamic law (“the sharia”) does not sanction honor killing.  The coroner’s autopsy report concluded the “Manner of Death” was “Accident (Decedent fell and struck head on table).”  The detailed medical report does not mention any evidence of foul play.

Jihadwatch later published a page with the headline, “Tampa Police crime scene tech now admits ‘fear of Muslim reprisal’ in honor killing classified as accidental death,” which was reposted to numerous anti-Muslim hate sites.  This implies police lied when they ruled the case an accident, but a closer look at the details shows this headline is misleading.

A crime scene technician from the Tampa police department called the Florida Family Association (FFA) nearly a year after the initial investigation and asked that her name be removed from their website, which has been stirring up controversy over the case, in concert with Geller and Spencer.  The technician did not want her name posted on a controversial public website, though it is unclear from the reports whether she feared reprisal from angry Muslims, or from “activists” aligned with the FFA.

Although Tampa police have stood by results of their initial investigation, Geller and an assortment of other loony Islamophobes continue to exert pressure on authorities to reopen the case.  They have linked the case to their conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over the country, apparently starting with the Tampa Police Department.  Geller has dubbed the city “Tampastan,” and claims Florida police are engaged in a cover up because, “…murdering Muslim women in America is preferable to offending Muslims or insulting Islam.”

It is tempting to dismiss Geller and Spencer for their outlandish statements and crude publicity stunts, but they have enjoyed surprising success, especially in using the mainstream media as a conduit for spreading their hateful ideas.  If they were targeting any other minority group, they would probably be consigned to the lunatic fringe.

Chicago Says “No, Thanks!” to Geller-Spencer Hate Campaign

SIOA’s Misleading Chicago Cab Ads

Way to go Chicago!

Chicago’s Yellow Cab is giving hate-mongers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller‘s campain of hate ads the old Windy City boot.

The so-called “leave Islam safely honor killing” ad campaign was cynical from head to toe given that the phenomenon of domestic abuse and infanticide is not limited to Muslim families, and that within the Muslim community, has not exceeded 12 cases from coast to coast in the US and Canada.

Geller and Spencer had paid for ads through their newly formed hate group, SIOA, pretending to care for the victims of “honor killings.” But rather than advertise a counselling service hotline or guide potential victims to actual professional help, the ads slipped in a Spencer/Geller website that bashed the Islamic faith, painted all Muslims as evil, and had absolutely nothing to do with providing safety for victims as the ad falsely suggests.

Bravo Yellow Cab!

Geller and Spencer are willing to sink so low as to exploit the young female victims of domestic abuse, casting them as pawns in their rabid hate for Islam and Muslims. Worse yet, they had the audacity to think they could get away with it.

Yellow Cab is within their legal and professional rights to pull the plug on the offensive and misleading ad campaign, and while I am sure Geller and Spencer will, as usual, threaten a lawsuit to enforce their hateful ways, they have absolutely no legal recourse and will have to lick their wounds on this one. Continue reading

Contact USA Today for their Epic Failure

Oren Dorell

Oren Dorell

Oren Dorell, a reporter with USA Today wrote an article recently on so called “Honor killings,” of which there have been six in the past two years. Unfortunately, his article was rendered inaccurate and ineffectual because of a severe lapse of judgment on his and USA Today’s part in citing Robert Spencer as an authority on Islam and Radical Muslims.

The portion that we are speaking about goes,

“There is broad support and acceptance of this idea in Islam, and we’re going to see it more and more in the United States,” says Robert Spencer, who has trained FBI and military authorities on Islam and founded Jihad Watch, which monitors radical Islam.

Of course, Robert Spencer, per his modus operandi is again lying. There is neither broad support or acceptance of honor killings as an idea in Islam. Two points which Spencer will be hard pressed to prove, especially since Islam expressly condemns the pre-Islamic tribal practice. Spencer also attempts to play prophet here, a role that he has failed at over and over.

This is an especially egregious report in light of the events that played out in the Fathima Rifqa Bary case, a case which Michael Kruse, a reporter for the St.Petersburg Times noted was in part “created” by Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Throughout the case, without any of the facts present Spencer was claiming that Rifqa would be killed in an honor killing and that her parents were extremists, he still believes this today regardless of the fact that the authorities investigated the matter and repudiated Spencer and his far right cronies when they sent Rifqa back to Ohio and found the charges against the family to be baseless.

We urge our readers to contact Oren Dorell and USA Today to rectify this epic failure in citing Spencer as an authority on Islam or radical Islam.

Contact Brent Jones, for corrections and clarifications: accuracy@usatoday.com

Contact Oren Dorell: odorell@gmail.com

Remember to be polite and topical.

The fact is Spencer is not taken seriously by academia especially in the field of Islam: He has been repudiated over and over. Take a glance at our archives:

Academics and members of the American Library Association condemn Spencer and his work: Robert Spencer Rejected by Academics, still Supports Geert Wilders

DePaul Law Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni condemns Spencer

His former friend and ally Charles Johnson has also condemned Robert Spencer as an “Anti-Islamic Bigot:”

Robert Spencer goes postal on Charles Johnson

Spencer’s association and fervent support for anti-Muslim European neo-Fascists and supremacists also disqualifies him from being mentioned as a true neutral observer and commenter on Islam or radical Islam:

Robert Spencer Teams up with Euro-Supremacists Again

Spencer has also joined a genocidal Facebook group which called for the extermination of Turks:

Robert Spencer: Wanna be Conquistador

Robert Spencer’s arguments have been shown to be filled with errors and excessive prejudice:

The Church’s Doctrine of Perpetual Servitude worse than Dhimmitude

Robert Spencer Misrepresents Facts — Again

Robert Spencer Worried about ticking ‘Muslim Demographic Time Bomb’

There is more information exposing the bigotry and anti-Muslim motive that mars the work of Robert Spencer in our archives, if USA Today truly cares about what they print and the information they wish to present to readers then they should take a serious look at who they choose to quote as experts.