Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Muzzammil Hassan: Failed Mission?

Muzzammil Hassan and Wife Aasiya
In Happier Times
(Bridges TV/Handout/Reuters)
(Image from Yahoo)

The February 17th issue of the International Herald Tribune presents a most-ironic report, if it should turn out to be true:
Muzzammil Hassan, founder and CEO of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Bridges TV which [was] launched in 2004 with a mission to show Muslims in a more positive light, was charged after reporting the death of his wife, Aasiya Hassan, 37, on Thursday night.
Since the decapitated body of his wife was found at the Bridges TV offices, allegedly beheaded by Mr. Hassan, then if the allegations should prove true (and various reports say that he has confessed), I believe that we can probably conclude that Mr. Hassan has been unsuccessful in his mission.

The article further reports:
Authorities said Aasiya Hassan, with whom Hassan had two children, had recently filed for divorce and had an order of protection mandating that he leave their home as of February 6.
Given that Ms. Hassan had recently filed for divorce, I suggest that this was a so-called 'honor' killing of the sort that is currently becoming far too common in Western Europe and even in the United States. From what little that I know of Sharia (Muslim law), this sort of thing is not expressly condoned (and, indeed, is probably condemned). However, the specifically Islamic variant of shame-and-honor culture seems to have a higher incidence of honor killings with excessive violence:
Not all honor killings are perpetrated by Muslims, but the overwhelming majority are. Ninety percent of the honor killers shown [in a study] . . . were Muslim. In every case, perpetrators view their victims as violating rules of religious conduct and act without remorse. (Phyllis Chesler, "Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?" Middle East Quarterly 16.2, Spring 2009, pp. 61-69)
The evidence presented by Chesler thus suggests that Muslim communities have an enormous problem here that goes beyond 'ordinary' domestic violence -- in my opinion, due to the very strict and rigid shame-and-honor control exerted by many Muslim men upon Muslim women. Perhaps if Mr. Hassan had spent more time analyzing this cultural problem rather than simply pursuing his "mission to show Muslims in a more positive light" -- however worthy that may be -- he might have learned to face his own tendencies toward violence and thereby better have succeeded in his 'mission'.

Or at least not have failed so spectacularly.

Labels: , ,


At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honor killing? US domestic violence statistics show that women are at greatest risk of being murdered by their partners when the women try to leave or break off the relationship. That Chicagoland cop is still free while the mysterious deaths of his third and fourth wives remain open. It is not the husband but the wife's family who carry out honor killings as the woman's behavior reflects on them, not the husband.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, are you sure that husbands don't commit honor killings? Divorce sought by the wife can be seen as a dishonor to the husband in Muslim culture.

After posting this blog entry, which was my personal interpretation of the murder's significance, I read this article discussing the possibility that this murder was an honor killing.

Here's a quote:

"Nadia Shahram, a matrimonial lawyer in Williamsville, said that some Muslim men consider divorce a dishonor on their family.

A teacher of family law and Islam at the University at Buffalo Law School, Shahram said that 'fanatical' Muslims believe “honor killing” is justified for bringing dishonor on a family."

Since Shahram is stating this in connection with the beheading of Aasiya Hassan, then "honor killing" would seem to apply in this case.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did a little googling. The website Gendercide states that husbands, as well as other blood relatives, may carry out honor killings for many reasons, including divorce. I wonder if Nadia Shaharam knows that 75% of all domestic violence murders in the US are committed when the woman tries to leave the relationship. A teenage girl murdered by her father for being seen with a boy would definitely be an honor killing. A man murdering his estranged wife in a fit of rage may or may not be. It would be of interest to compare domestic violence murder rates of Muslims versus Americans in general and of Muslim immigrants versus immigrants from other traditional cultures.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're right, Sonagi, that we need to think about overlap between domestic violence and honor killings. This horrific murder may fit both (and probably does).

One of the links that I gave, the one to Chesler's article, tries to draw a distinction, along with comparisons of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, but I'm not sure if her data is statistically significant.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some news reports have included statements from her sister and friends that she was abused for years. An abusive husband who finally kills his wife when she tries to leave him is an all too familiar story. So far it seems the only reason this is being called an honor killing is that the man is Muslim and possibly because of his murder method. Even if Muslims are statistically more likely to murder their women, this does not mean that this was an honor killing. Allegations of his prior violent behavior are more relevant than his religion.

At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now recognize, I'm no "expert" in any sense on "domestic violence" per se.

I'm just a simple hillbilly.

I've seen TV video footage of (Christian) women rounding fountains in Atlantic City very apparently attempting to run their former, "forever and ever's" over with a Mercedes.

I've read newspaper reports of even "Hillbillies" using either deer rifles or pistols to rid themselves of their "forever and ever's."

Whatever the method I realize, none of this sort of stuff should be approved of, and unless it's "Shariyah" it normally isn't. But forcing anyone to his/her knees, then methodically removing the head from the neck while still alive, seems particularly...

Well, I'm not qualified for this I suppose. Not Sonagi, that I particularly disagree with you.


At 8:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, you may be correct. Perhaps the cultural aspect is reflected in this beheading, not in the killing being an 'honor' killing.

Still, I wonder if one can distinguish so clearly. I suspect that many women who die 'honor' deaths have already suffered years of abuse.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, I guess that we'll need to learn more about this particular case . . . and probably do a lot of thinking about domestic violence versus honor killings.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Horace,

It's Patrick from over at PoemShape. You've been getting some traffic from my post, glad to see it. You write:

//killing of the sort that is currently becoming far too common in Western Europe and even in the United States//

As far as "genuine" honor killings go, it's much more common among Muslims in Western Europe. It's still exceedingly rare, among Muslims, in the United States. I don't know why.

Interesting article here though:

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Patrick, thanks for linking and visiting. I had just noticed the link to my post on Chaucer from your New Year's Eve post and looked at your interesting blog shortly before the comment that you've left here.

Thanks for the link to Spencer's article. I read something by him on this last year.

I suspect that honor killings among Muslims in the US are less common for two reasons: 1) fewer Muslims and 2) lack of Muslim enclaves.

In European states, Muslims often live in urban enclaves and thus maintain their traditional cultural mores, which include the practice of 'honor' killings, unfortunately.

Thanks again for visiting.

By the way, I go by "Jeffery."

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:43 AM, Blogger John B said...

"But forcing anyone to his/her knees, then methodically removing the head from the neck while still alive, seems particularly..."

That's a pretty good point. On the other hand, domestic disputes can get really, really crazy. It's also possible that his awareness of that type of execution influenced impulsive behavior. Here in the US, I don't think decapitation has ever been a method of execution. In France, however, the guillotine was used as recently as 1977, and was only discontinued because they abolished the death penalty. Decapitation is still used as a death penalty in Saudi Arabia. There could be a cultural element to the method of murder outside of the "honor killing" thing.

In terms of calculated brutality, it doesn't seem that different from murder victims who were stabbed hundreds of times.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

John B, I agree that multiple stabbings are pretty brutal, but are they calculated? They could be inflicted in a rage . . . well, perhaps not hundreds (does that happen often?).

Beheading with a knife, however, is not an easy job. Cutting through the backbone is very difficult (or so I've read). There would seem to be a ritual aspect to beheading, as though it were a religious act -- given the role of decapitation in Islamic law -- as though one were assuming the role of legal executioner.

Were extralegal beheadings common in France during the time of the guillotine? Or in other Western nations when official beheadings were often carried out?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:38 PM, Blogger John B said...

A "clean" decapitation is extremely difficult, but I was thinking that as a crime of passion, maybe the guy just kept hacking at it for a half hour or so. More to the point, ritual execution does not have to imply Shariah. Premeditated gun crimes are sometimes described as "execution-style", after all. I guess my point is, decapitation might have seemed natural as a means of delibrate, premeditated punishment without being explicitly thought of as a punishment reserved for a specific crime.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I agree that the salient issue here is not shariah but culture. In a shame-and-honor culture, so-called 'honor' killings will be more prevalent, but such killings will take culture-specific forms. Decapitation seems to prevail in Islamic-influenced cultures, so shariah may have some degree of influence -- but as Sonagi has pointed out (and we seem to agree), this recent murder could be an extreme form of domestic violence (though domestic violence and honor killing may overlap).

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:40 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...


I reckon there IS a very MINUTE chance that this was JUST a domestic-abuse case.

But I reckon that it is MUCH more feasible it was an ISLAMIC "honor" killing.

SURELY you agree?

Too bad GW Bush wasn't given as much of a chance as this murderous bastard is being given.


At 6:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio Al-Ozarka, I reckon that we'll be hearing a lot about this case over the next several months, so the motives will probably become clearer.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yuck! I would disqualify this as a honor killing precisely because of the method. Turkey still sees hundreds of these honour-killings yearly. And so does the Arab world, I suppose. Sick as that may be already, I've never heard of a beheading in these cases.

Beheadings are stigmatized. They are for infidels, devils and animals. They are not in the DIY category like shooting or stabbing somebody, or throwing him (well, her, usually) out of the window or down some cliff (very popular, because it "officially" looks like suicide).

My guess is paranoia. He probably imagined his wife to be possessed by a deamon.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Erdal, that's an interesting point about beheadings being reserved for infidels, devils, and animals. I didn't know this (and am curious why one would behead an animal as punishment . . . if that's the reason).

Perhaps you're correct, that Mr. Hassan was simply insane. That would be the third possibility.

By the way, what does "DIY" mean -- "Do-It-Yourself"?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter how many beheadings, stonings, or terrorist attacks there are, we must never fear, resist or mock the precious and ever peaceful Islam. Who are we to say that raping 9 year-olds is immoral? Who are we to say that stoning gays and rape victims to death is evil?

Who are we to say that killing hundreds of people every month in the name of Allah is the height of evil? That is just their culture and ideology and it MUST be respected. Morality is all relative, we must remember that.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
cut off your wife's head

if she dishonors you
by asking for a divorce

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
all planets Islamic

Earth is one of many
in process of conversion

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
many Taliban planets

stonings and beheadings
billions served daily

absurd thought –
God of the Universe says
convert the infidels

or make them pay a tax
if they don’t want to die
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Help STOP Terrorism Today!


At 12:18 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

USpace, I'd prefer that comments stick narrowly to the topic. Simply linking to your site would be better than posting so much here.

Thanks for visiting, however.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home