Friday, January 4, 2008

Father Kills Daughters, Disappears: Watch This Story

Yaser Abdel Said, of Lewisville, Texas, shot his teenage daughters, Sarah and Amina, on Wednesday of this week. Then he disappeared.

It's hard not to think, 'honor killing,' when two bright Muslim girls who wore western clothing show up shot to death, in their father's taxi. But it's early days: and very few facts have been released about the case.

Apparently, the most that a police spokesman said about a motive for the double murder was that "there have been some 'domestic issues' with the family, but he did not elaborate." A secretary of the Lewisville High School who had taken classes with both sisters said that they were very bright, wore "American" clothes like other teens, and didnt have much to say about their family. "I didn't know they were Muslims until she told me they were Egyptian and Muslim," she said. Mr. Said is from Egypt, and moved to Lewisville around the 1980s.

Some bloggers have already labeled the double murder an honor killing and/or a case involving pedophilia: "Brother of Slain Lewisville Girls Tries to Dispel Honor Killing Theory" and "Another Islamic 'Honor Killer' On The Loose?," for example. At least in the second example, there's a question mark at the end.

The dead teens' older brother, Islam Said, told WFAA television, "I never thought this would happen," and, about his father: "Tell him to turn himself in." He also said that his sisters' murders were not honor killings: "It's something else. Religion has nothing to do with it."

He may be right. The killings could be anything from an honor killing, to a misguided attempt to cover up sexual misconduct, or a drug deal gone bad, or the result of somebody getting the wrong meds.

The fact is, we don't know the facts. All we know is that
  • Two young women are dead
  • A family is hurting
  • The suspected killer is on the run
Speculation on motive is just that: speculation.

So What?

The Said sisters' killings, and the reaction of some to the way they died, tells me two things:
  1. People are going to make assumptions that fit their beliefs
  2. Muslims are associated with honor killings right now
Even if news media carefully avoids mentioning the 'h-k' phrase, the idea that their father thought he had a right and duty to clean up his family will surface. Making assumptions based on previous experience is a human trait. But it is possible to change people's experiences.

This would be an excellent opportunity for an Islamic group in America to get involved with this tragedy: and show examples of American Muslims who are not killing members of their own families, or plotting to blow up shopping malls. I don't mean to sound flippant or sarcastic about this. Public perception is important, and right now Islam has what could at best be called a public relations problem in America.
Online memorials to Sarah and Amina are at and
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.


Anonymous said...

To one with experience in these matters, it is obvious the murders of the beautiful Said sisters in suburban Dallas were dishonor killings.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Brian H. Gill said...


Two comments! Thank you.

Despite how my reply to your other comment on this matter can be read, I do agree with you on this point.

What happened in Lewisville was, in deed a 'dishonor killing,' in the sense that it brought dishonor on the alleged murder, and on his fellow-Muslims.

The stain he put on Muslims may not be fair, but that's human nature.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.