Sunday, January 6, 2008

Father Kills Daughters, Disappears: Surprisingly Little Hysteria

The Dallas Morning News reported on the funerals of Sarah and Amina Yaser Said today.

They're the sisters, age 17 and 18, who were found shot to death in their father's taxi. Those three, the young women's mother, and their brother, are Muslims.

News reports have carefully avoided the term "honor killing," except when reporting the reaction of a third party.

The blogosphere has been admirably restrained, too, with a few exceptions (more on this at "Father Kills Daughters, Disappears: Watch This Story" (January 4, 2008).)

This lack of Muslim-bashing is pretty remarkable, considering how 'Islamophobic' Americans are sometimes imagined to be. It's particularly remarkable, since in this case it's easy to see a Muslim father killing his westernized daughters as being an honor killing.

Maybe it helped, at least on the state level, that there had been an attempted filicide earlier this month: "San Antonio man shoots his two daughters, kills himself." Salvador Paralta apparently was upset because the girls' mother was leaving him.

Meanwhile, back in the Dallas area, funerals for the murdered teens were decidedly interfaith: "The funeral at the Rahma Funeral Home on Spring Valley Road highlighted the two vastly different cultures the girls had come from. Mingling among women wearing hajibs covering their hair and loose-fitting flowing clothing were teenagers and adults in Western clothing.

"Robert Crisp, a Catholic priest, led a Baptist service, which was followed by a service at a Richardson mosque."

Islamophobia doesn't seem to be an issue on the north side of Dallas, Texas.

From the bits and pieces of hearsay and rumor that are coming out in the news, my guess is that it's at least even odds that Sarah and Amina Yaser Said were killed by their father, Yaser Abdel Said, and that his motive only slightly connected with his Islamic beliefs.

So What?

You'll find jerks everywhere.

But not everyone is a jerk.

And Muslims don't have a monopoly on having a few members of their community who are able to commit horrible crimes.

Most of what's happening on the north side of Dallas, Texas, seems to show that the people who live there, Muslim, Christian, whatever, are decent sorts who want to support each other.

I think that communities like this are common in America. And, that American laws and customs which allow people to worship, or not worship, as they please help make such communities possible. I think it's easier to love your neighbor, if some authority isn't forcing you to worship the same way your neighbor does.


Anonymous said...

OK, well, then I'll call these murders what they are: dishonor killings. It's not due to Islamophobia, though. Far from it; I've lived in the Middle East. It happens that I've been working on these crimes for years and happen to have some rare-for-America expertise on this subject.

I think the reason few in the States are "bashing" is because few have any knowledge about or familiarity with these crimes. Even the investigatory agencies and the media seem clueless. Those who do know the perpetrator will be held accountable in the eyes of the law, something that doesn't happen in some countries. In Jordan, for example, the average sentence for these crimes is six months.

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

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I do suspect that 'honor killings' may be under-reported.

On the other hand, an 'honor killing' seems to have a lot in common with what happens when a homicidal jerk's wife leaves him, taking the kids with her.

The difference is that an honor killing is sanctioned by the community, while murdering your wife because she finally had enough is not.

Since the Muslims who live on the north side of Dallas don't seem to condone this double murder, I'm inclined to view this as a case of domestic violence. But, we certainly do not have very many facts at this point.

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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.