Currently there are two trials in America for suspected “honor” killings. What twisted sense of honor can compel a person to murder someone they are supposed to love?
Whenever I discuss or lecture on “women in Islam” or more specifically “honor killings” the apologists always say “honor killings is a culture thing, it’s not Islamic.” My personal favorite is when I hear “that doesn’t happen in America.”
Right now, we have two “honor killing” trials that are taking place in the U.S. for honor killings that “don’t happen here”.
In Buffalo, NY we have the case of Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan who allegedly murdered his wife Aasiya Hassan. According to WBEN of Buffalo, NY,
Aasiya Hassan was stabbed more than 40 times as the couple's 4- and 6-year-old children and the suspect's teenage son from a previous marriage waited in a minivan outside for her to complete the errand on their way to dinner, Bonanno said.
"Then (Hassan) took those knives and he sawed Aasiya's head off," using so much force that the floor tiles underneath were damaged, the prosecutor said.
The other case is one that I wrote about previously, when I wrote the story of Noor Almaleki last year I contacted a few of her friends and co-workers to find out about Noor the person. I wanted to paint a real picture and get an understanding of the individual that lost her life in what was known in Arizona and throughout the U.S. as an “Honor killing”.
October 20th, 2009 Noor’s own Father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki ran her down with his Jeep Cherokee. Noor fought for her life until Monday November 2, 2009, when she succumbed and died from her injuries. Noor was only 20 years old. Her father didn’t just run over Noor; at the time he ran her down, she was walking in a parking lot with her fiancé’s mother, Amal Edan Khalaf. The 43-year-old Amal Edan Khalaf was seriously injured.
Some friends of Noor said that her father had taken her to Iraq and told her they were visiting relatives. Once there, he married her off and left her to fend for herself. Noor then had to find enough money to make her way back to America and, once here, she moved in with the fiancé she loved. A friend, Nicole Furugia said she had gone with Noor to look into getting a restraining order against her father, "She was very determined on getting it, she was scared."
Family members told police that the father was upset that his daughter failed to live by traditional Muslim values, and prosecutors have also said Almaleki has admitted killing his daughter because she disgraced the family by not following traditional Iraqi or Muslim values.
Faleh Hassan Almaleki was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and two counts of leaving the scene of a serious accident. Police said Almaleki fled the country after the attack, driving to Mexico and later taking a plane to London. He was detained by British authorities and extradited back to the United States.
Last year at the preliminary hearing speaking before a Maricopa County judge, county prosecutor Stephanie Low said Almaleki has admitted purposefully running down his daughter. Low indicated that Mr. Almaleki does not deny that his actions were intended to harm and even kill Noor:
“By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family,” Low said. “This was an attempt at an honor killing.”
Even though Arizona has the death penalty, the decision not to seek the death penalty was taken after Almaleki's attorney, Billy Little, a public defender, asked the judge to take special precautions to ensure that the County and Attorney's Office wouldn't wrongly seek the death penalty because…Almaleki is a Muslim.
Further, Little requested that the office make public the process it uses to determine whether to seek capital punishment. "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," Little wrote, referring to County Attorney Andrew Thomas' Christian faith.
Laura Reckart, a county prosecutor, responded that Little's concern about the "supposed bias" of the office's death penalty review process was "without legitimate factual or legal basis." She wrote that the state can seek the death penalty for any person convicted of first-degree murder if it can prove the existence of at least one aggravating factor, not because of religion.
However, the debate stopped there. On February 16th, Reckart filed a motion indicating prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. Mike Scerbo, a spokesman for the County Attorney's Office, issued the following statement on February 19th:
"The defendant is charged with first degree murder and, if convicted, will spend the rest of his life in prison. As is in all first degree murder cases, the decision on whether to seek the death penalty is made on a case by case basis. Cultural considerations played no part in the decision not to seek the death penalty."
So now a year and a half later Faleh Hassan Almaleki is on trial for the murder of his own daughter.
The defense now is claiming that the whole thing was an accident, according to the AZ Central website,
Public defender Elizabeth Mullins told jurors and others gathered before Judge Roland Steinle a starkly different story: Almaleki loved his daughter and cautioned her to avoid "rebellious teenage behavior." But Noor didn't listen. She left home.
Oct. 20, 2009, marked the first time Almaleki had seen his daughter in months. He planned to leave the DES office to avoid a confrontation and then spotted Khalaf again as he drove out of the parking lot.
His daughter straggled behind, playing on her cellphone.
That's when he decided to spit on Khalaf, Mullins said.
Khalaf stepped in front of Almaleki's Jeep and he swerved, trying to avoid her, Mullins continued. He couldn't. He hit Khalaf, a tree and a curb.
He looked back and realized he'd also hit Noor, Mullins said. His daughter appeared gravely injured. Almaleki panicked. He called family members, who told him to drive away. "Frantic and desperate, Faleh does what they said," Mullins said.
I have a special attachment to this case and wanted once again to give the reader some insight to the real person, not have Noor appear as just a statistic or a photo of some young woman who was killed.
I tracked down a friend of Noor from her High School days and we spoke by telephone.
For security and since the trial is currently ongoing I will not divulge this friends name, I asked,
“Tell me about Noor, when did you meet”?
Friend: “Noora, that’s what we called her, the "a" being the letter of her last name- it was easier for us to remember. We met in Dysart High School in El Mirage, Arizona in our sophomore year.”
GA: “Did you know she was from Iraq, did she tell people where she was from or discuss it?”
Friend: “I knew she wasn’t white or Hispanic, but it was after we had become friends that I found out where she was from. She didn’t talk about it.”
GA: “How did she dress and act, could you look at her and know she was Muslim, did she dress differently?”
Friend: “She dressed like an American; she was like any other teenage American high school student. A typical American, she never wore a head scarf or anything like that.”
GA: “Did she talk to you about her family or any problems she was having with her father?”
Friend: “I found out through someone else when her father took her back to Iraq and sold her, married her off. I couldn’t believe her father would do that. We were all like when is Noora coming back home?”
GA: “What other type of things or hobbies was Noor into besides wanting to be a model?”
Friend: “She took art classes and we did pottery, you know, a ceramics class. She liked to just hang out like we all did in high school. She used to come by and visit me at work after school and we would hang out and just talk.”
GA: “Now that the case has gone to trial her father is changing his story and saying that it was an accident, he says he was trying to spit out the window at Amal Khalaf and hit them accidentally.”
Friend: “I think that’s a bunch of bull, I got a text when it happened, Noora’s dad ran her over and I thought it was an accident and it was no, Noora’s dad ran her over and it was on purpose, that just blew my mind, I was like are you serious? They held a vigil for her and a bunch of people from high school were there and I couldn’t go and it broke my heart. It was a whole mess when it first happened everyone that knew her was going crazy because they couldn’t figure out what happened. But I don’t doubt for a second that he did it on purpose.”
GA: “If you had to describe Noor to someone that had never met her, what would you say?”
Friend: “I’d say that she was a beautiful person inside and out, she had a sense of humor, she definitely knew how to make you laugh. She just seemed like she was happy all the time, I never really saw her upset. She was quick to say a kind word, she was so sweet. She was friends with everybody; she didn’t judge or discriminate against anybody. She was just a really sweet person, I don’t think she had a mean streak on her, I can’t even imagine her trying to hurt a fly. She was definitely somebody that you’d just like to talk to that you’d like to see in the hallway and say hey how ya doin. She was just a really good person overall. She definitely did not deserve this at all, it breaks my heart that somebody so sweet and innocent had to have this happen to her. Its, their frightening and it’s pretty ridiculous, you know, I don’t understand the culture and to me it’s just outrageous.”
Noor’s little brother Ali has a Facebook page where I found a picture that he had done for a school project.
What he has written there is a lot different from what he stated while Noor was fighting for her life. Going back to an exclusive interview by channel 5 KPHO,
Peter-Ali Almaleki told CBS 5 News in an exclusive interview Saturday that for years his father and sister have been at odds.
He said much of the conflict stems from his sister choosing to not follow in the family's Muslim traditions.
And for a traditional Muslim family, he said that disrespect was the ultimate insult to his father.
“Different cultures, different values,” he said. “One thing to one culture does not make sense to another culture.”
“It's hurt my mom more than anybody,” he said.
Really? I think that your sister Noor might have a different opinion.
Here are just a few examples of “honor killings” from right here in the U.S. from an article I wrote early last year,
In the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro in July, 2008, a Pakistani immigrant strangled his 25-year-old daughter with a bungee cord because she was determined to end her arranged marriage and had gotten involved with a new man.
In upstate New York a few weeks earlier, Waheed Allah Mohammad, an immigrant from Afghanistan, was charged with attempted murder after repeatedly stabbing his 19-year-old sister. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Mohammad was "infuriated because his younger sister was going to clubs, wearing immodest clothing, and planning to leave her family for a new life in New York City" – she was a "bad Muslim girl," he told sheriff's investigators.
On New Year's Day, 2008 in Irving, Texas, the bullet-riddled bodies of the Said sisters – Sarah, 17, and Amina, 18 - were found in an abandoned taxi. Police issued an arrest warrant for their father, an Egyptian immigrant, Yaser Abdel Said, who had reportedly threatened to kill them upon learning that they had boyfriends. According to the Dallas Morning News, Yaser Said was given to "gun-waving rants about how Western culture was corrupting the chastity of his daughters."
Yaser Said was never captured, but the Said sisters' 911 call they placed as they were dying was. The audio can be heard here.
When will we hear from the “women’s rights” organizations? How can any human rights group, especially a woman’s group not speak out against this? I have asked before, where is the National Organization of Women (N.O.W.)? Should they not be out there every day screaming and using this very trial to publicize these atrocities that are occurring to women on a daily basis worldwide?
When will we as a people speak up? How many more “Noor’s” have to die before we as a country speak up loud and clear and say “No more!”
How prevalent are honor killings? Go to the Stop Honor Killings website and look for yourself, they have 100 pages of killings with an average of 10 per page that only dates back to 2003.
As I have explained before,
“The United Nations estimates that as many as 5,000 women are murdered in such honor killings each year for offenses like immodesty or refusing an arranged marriage.”
I have no doubt that Faleh Hassan Almaleki will be found guilty and spend the rest of his miserable life in jail, but, we have no right to let Noor Almaleki’s death be in vain.
Go to the website mentioned above and get involved. Educate yourself and speak out about it to anyone who will listen.
These so called “honor killings” are on the rise and they are anything but honorable. The only way to use the word “honor” would be to honor these girls and women and make sure it doesn't continue.
This article is dedicated to and in memory of each and every woman (and man) who has died in a killing of honor. May they all rest in peace.