Bigots make hay over honour killing

The Independent reported a few days ago that a young woman was murdered in Gaza by members of Hamas, because she was seen walking in the streets with her husband. The story has been repeated in the New Zealand Herald after the Independent’s copy of its report went into pay-per-view. Bear in mind that the Independent is regarded as a left-wing and generally pro-Arab newspaper, and its best known columnist is Robert Fisk. So whatever can be said about the mainstream western media, I don’t think they’d issue an inauthentic story which shows Palestinians in as bad a light as this.

Except that it’s not Palestinians this reflects badly on, but Hamas - the report makes clear that locals are outraged, and that Hamas fear that the action may cost them dearly in upcoming elections. A Hamas spokesman is reported to have claimed that the killing was due to a “suspicion of immoral behaviour”, and the group has issued leaflets promising to punish the people responsible. Honour killings are a known problem in that part of the world, but this seems to be the first time it’s been carried out by members of an armed group (the report suggests that factionalism may be at work, as the victim was married to a Fatah member).

A guy called Patrick, posting at Clarity & Resolve and Pardon My English, calls this “a deliberate act of base depravity for Allah”. Well, as a Muslim all I can say is that there have been Muslims from the earliest days of Islam whose fanaticism leads them to exceed the bounds of decency. Anyone with an ounce of Islamic knowledge will tell you that you cannot kill someone for holding hands with someone of the opposite sex in public, especially if they are married! The death penalty, which is by stoning (not shooting), only applies to proven married adulterers - and proving it is no easy task. There is no sanction whatsoever for killing people for anything less than that, much less for the mere suspicion of it.

I intend, insha Allah, to obtain word from various Islamic authorities on the status of this killing (this takes time). From what I’ve read, it’s just plain murder.

(And what is PME doing on Google News? I thought Google News was for news, not blogs.)

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  • Assalaamu Alaykum, From what I’ve read, they weren’t actually married, but I don’t think that makes a difference anyway. Why do you need to hear from various Islamic authorities? I think it’s clear this is just plain murder, no? Safiyyah

  • Well, not many papers have reported on it - Google news brings up the Independent, a copy of the same report in the NZ Herald, a brief piece in the Calcutta Telegraph, and the piece in the right-wing PME blog. The Indie report said they were indeed married. But yes, even if they weren’t, they had no right to do this.

  • According to the reports I’ve heard they were technically married because they had signed the marriage contract. What Arabs typically do is they actually sign the marriage contract (they call this the “nikaah” or “katab al-kitaab”) after which point they are considered fully married in Shari`ah but they don’t live together right away, they sort of go on “dates” but don’t consummate the marriage. I guess they do this to get around the Islamic prohibition on dating yet they leave an option for “divorce” in which case you may see somebody advertising themselves for marriage stating their status as “innocently divorced” meaning they got married this way but never consummated the marriage. Usually they consummate the marriage after they hold the “waleemah” when the bride wears the white dress and so on. It’s totally a cultural, un-Islamic thing but the fact remains that if they had signed the marriage contract they were officially married.

  • powder keg

    Forgive my ignorance .. but how can a murder be honourable? Call it like it is dishonour killings or more correctly just plain barbarism. And why this emphasis on whether they were maried or not? It is not important - a person’s worth should not be related to their marriage status.

  • They are called “honour killings” because they are related to honour - i.e. the perceived loss of honour to the family - not because they are honourable. Nobody has said they are honourable.

    The issue of them actually being married is an issue because they were accused of having a relationship outside marriage. This actually is no reason to kill anyone, but in this case it is a false accusation on the basis of which somebody was murdered.