Monday, July 7, 2008

Looks Like Another 'Honor Killing' - This Time in Georgia

"Clayton Co. Police Say Father Killed Daughter to Honor Family"
MyFOX Atlanta (July 6, 2008)

The headline tells most of the story.

Chaudhry Rashad, a Pakistani-American living in Clayton County, Georgia, says that he killed his daughter, 25, because her divorce would have dishonored the family.

As it is, the murder of Sandela Kanwal has brought no great honor to his family. Or, to Islam. And yes, this appears to be a traditional Islamic family - clothing, the whole nine yards.

'Honor killings' are closely associated with Islam, but may be more a Middle Eastern cultural value, than an Islamic religious belief. (I've written about this before.)

A few observations:
  • Multicultural concerns notwithstanding, this is getting to be a real problem. Western legal systems tend to be very intolerant of murder, even when it is conducted by non-westerners for cultural reasons.
  • Islam may not be the root of this issue. Indonesia, with a huge Muslim population, doesn't have this sort of 'honor killing' problem.
I can understand a father being upset with a daughter's choices. I have three daughters, and a son. They've made choices that I wouldn't have. But, even if one of those choices was something I couldn't approve of, killing one of them is not an option.

Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.


Samuel Wilson said...

You're probably on the right track in identifying "honor killings" as a regional rather than a religious phenomenon. It isn't necessarily geographically restricted to Pakistan or Afghanistan either. If memory serves, there've been cases that could be called honor killings on either side of the Mediterranean, perpetrated by Christians as well as Muslims. With all that said, I'm not sure if the present case qualifies, despite the headlines. More likely an angry patriarch simply took his supposed prerogatives too far.

Brian H. Gill said...

Samuel Wilson,

Thanks for the comment.

Repeating myself from the post, I think there's reason to believe that 'honor killings' are "more a Middle Eastern cultural value, than an Islamic religious belief." Although this family is Pakistani, I did not intend to indicate that I thought the issue was limited to that country.

(The post has a link to an earlier post on this blog, with a somewhat more detailed discussion of honor killings, culture, religion, and region.)

It's possible that this is simply a case of someone with anger management issues.

On the other hand, it could be a case of conflicting cultural values: with the west, once again, being 'intolerant.'

I was interested in remarks by the Pakistani American Community of Atlanta's Shahid Malik: "She was under depression too and the father was very stressed and under depression," which is likely enough.

The article paraphrases Mr. Malik's remarks about what seems to have set off this killing: "Malik said arranged marriages are not uncommon for Pakistanis. He said the marriages are usually accepted and successful, although young people living in American might develop problems with them."

It's impossible to tell whether Mr. Malik was explaining the circumstances, or saying that the father's cultural values dictated his actions.

What concerns me very much is traditional news media's apparent reticence to address the possible (probable?) cultural/religious angle to these stories.

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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.