You have heard of Matthew Shepard, haven’t you? Of course you have. He is the young homosexual man who was robbed and then brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998. He was 21 years old. His case has become synonymous with hate crimes legislation. His name is well known to us all.
But there are names we do not know. We do not know Noor Almaleki. And we don’t know Aasiya Hassan. When the news media chooses to make a case for a particular cause, they find an example who then becomes the banner carrier or the flag bearer for the cause. Conversely, when the news media choose to ignore a cause, they take the examples for that cause and stick them in a different pile, in hopes of not calling attention to that cause. Such is one of the ways we end up being influenced by the news media. We are influenced by the names we do not know.
We do not know Aasiya, although she was once featured—along with her husband—on national TV. She was a successful architect, and she and her husband were starting the Bridges TV network to help people understand moderate Muslims. Concerned about the perception many Americans have of Muslims, the couple sought to show how most Muslims are not violent people. The Bridges TV thing did not work out so well. Failing to garner either financial support or viewers, the network folded, in spite of the fact that it was featured on NPR, NBC, and other major media for its promise.
The TV attempt to put Islam in a better light ended poorly. Aasiya’s husband—Muzzammil Hassan—was convicted this week in the murder of his wife. And it wasn’t just murder. He beheaded his wife in accordance with his Muslim convictions. Whether right or wrong about his theology, Muzzammil thought he was acting in according with Islam. He thought he was justified in conducting an honor killing.
Likewise, Noor Almaleki’s father thought he was justified in killing his 17 year-old daughter. She had become too westernized. So, he rammed his jeep into the car she was driving and killed her. It was an honor killing in the name of Islam. His trial is now underway in Phoenix. So, in Phoenix and in Buffalo, Muslim men are killing their wives and daughters for honor in the name of Islam.
With Steyn, we wonder, “Why aren’t Noor Almaleki and Aasiya Hassan as famous as Matthew Shepard? They weren’t in
up-country villages in the Pakistani tribal lands. They were Americans – and they died because they wanted to live as American women.”
And also with Steyn, we can be “relieved that an American jury is not as mired in ‘cultural sensitivity’ as our leaders. Even so: Matthew Shepard was hung on a fence in Wyoming – and ever since there have been plays and TV movies and pop songs memorializing him. Aasiya Hassan had her head chopped off in Buffalo. How many playwrights and pop stars will tell her story?”
Sometimes, the names we do not hear are speaking a very important message which we desperately need to hear. Noor Almaleki and Aasiya Hassan can help us understand why Rifqa Bary left her Muslim family in Ohio to live with a Christian pastor and his family in Florida. There are others in America, too, whose names we do not know as well as we otherwise might. Sara and Amina Said—two teenage honor students from Texas—died as victims of honor killings when their own father shot them repeatedly as they were sitting in a taxi.
There is a good chance that these honor killings will continue until we start to hear the names of the victims and see their faces. Then, perhaps, we will shut up the silly political correctness that causes us blindness in the face of the brutal facts of Islam’s oppression of women. Is every Muslim guilty of honor killing? No, of course not. But that isn’t really the point, is it? The point is that some Muslims feel justified killing their wives and daughters in the name of Islam.
For Muslims, the question is whether Noor Almaleki, Aasiya Hassan, Amina Said, Sara Said, and other women dead by honor killings represent the name of Islam. For us, we should ask if these names we do not know represent American women. If so, we must confront the evil of honor killings honestly.