Certainly we all hope there are preserves of Islamic pluralism somewhere in the world, either muted in the Middle East for fear of deadly reprisals, or abroad in the West where they can articulate what this new faith might look like. Stephen Humphreys assures me this is the case, and I can almost take his word for it because his familiarity with this region of the world is deep and genuine.
But the article below, along with the large percentage of U.S. mullahs allegedly supporting the ideology of a militant, political Islamic jihad prior to 911, makes me wonder. Since Islam has never undergone secular demythologization, and has never tolerated a philosophical system questioning its assumptions (one was in fact quashed by clerics in the 12th century), the border between fundamentalism and its militant variety seems awfully thin in places. And my own reductionism has been that this thin line has mainly to do with the nature of the tribal/patriarchal Muslim family, a dynamic we've surely seen in our own history, and still see as criminal episodes everyday. In the case of the Muslim family, how is it differentiated so that the case below isn't generalized? Is the extreme behavior involving threat of murder, or in other cases murder, just as aberrant as non Muslim family life in America? Inferences are dangerous to make, but the idea of children being parental property to the extent of their disposal doesn't seem an uncommon attitude in the Middle East.
Weblog Somalis Fear Children Will Falsely Claim Abuse. The Columbus Dispatch reports on a court case today in Ohio that has larger implications for parent-daughter relations in Muslim families living in the West. The facts of the case are thus: When Mohamed Shide, 38, a Somali immigrant who arrived to the United States in 1998, went to pick up his sixth-grade daughter, Rahma Rage, outside Eastmoor Middle School, he saw her standing with a boy. On getting home, Shide slapped Rage and put a pocketknife to her throat, then threatened to kill her with a butcher knife from the kitchen - or so Rage told an assistant principal the next day, leading to the arrest of her father and her being removed from her home, then placed with a non-Muslim American foster mother.
What makes this incident of such interest is the response of Rage's family and the Somali community, which insisted that Rage made up the above story as a way to leave her parents' house and jump feet-first into U.S. culture. Shide testified at the trial that Rage was watching some "bad sex movies" and listening to "bad rap music" on the sly, as well as adopting such reprehensible American habits as talking back to her parents and not cleaning up after herself. The defense also insisted that Rage took advantage of living with a non-Muslim family to act like a U.S. teen-ager. "She was wearing a dress that I have never seen, and it was very short," Rahma's mother testified. "Her stomach was naked."
Jurors reached a split decision after six hours of deliberation on August 1. They found Shide not guilty of aggravated menacing, could not decide on an assault charge and a domestic violence charge, and found him guilty of threatening his daughter so she thought she was in danger. Shide was fined $100, given a 30-day suspended jail sentence, and put on probation for 13 months. Further, he is prohibited form meeting with Rahma except with her consent.
The Somali community in Columbus responded with alarm to the verdict and rallied around Shide. It worried, first, how the verdict would undermine parental authority: "Many families are hesitant to discipline their children because they could call 911," noted Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio.
Second, it feared other children would follow Rage's method of fleeing the restrictions of her parents' home. "There is a strong belief that this will start to happen-and start to happen fast," fretted a family friend.
Third, the community is upset over the shift in power underway. Maryan Warsame, director of the Somali Women's Association, noted that because they speak English and understand American culture, children "think they are better than their parents."
A family friend summed up the extent of the distress: "It's going to destroy the Somali community."
Comments: Somali parents are hardly the first immigrants to find their child-rearing mores in conflict with American customs but it could be that no parents will experience so profound a disconnect as do they.
Rahma Rage was only threatened with murder; other daughters in the West have been killed for "honor"-related issues (note the infamous cases of Palestina Isa in St. Louis and Fadime Sahindal in Sweden.
Finally, this incident points to just how unpredictable the future mores of the American Muslim community are, for they depend on the Rahma Rages, now so much in flux. (August 3, 2003) Permalink
Here are two other incidents, one the basis of a book reviewed by Daniel Pipes:
Guarding the Secrets: Palestinian Terrorism and a Father's Murder of His Too-American Daughter by Ellen Harris
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1995. 352 pp. $23
Middle East Quarterly September 1995 Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
In November 1989 in St. Louis, the FBI inadvertently tape recorded the entire episode of a teenage girl's being killed by her Palestinian father and Brazilian mother (the Feds were looking for evidence of terrorism, which they also found). In a ghastly eight-minute sequence, Zein Isa stabbed his daughter Palestina thirteen times with a butcher's knife as his wife held the girl down and responded to Palestina's pleas for help with a brutal "Shut up!" The killing ends with Zein screaming "Die! Die quickly! Die quickly! . . . Quiet, little one! Die, my daughter, die!" By this time, she is dead.
Harris, a St. Louis television reporter, has done admirable spade work going through the court transcripts and interviewing everyone connected to the case in an attempt to piece together the interlocking stories of family murder and active support of Abu Nidal's terrorist organization. In addition, she successfully conjures up the small and exceedingly unpleasant world of Zein Isa and his family of rabid anti-Americans living right in the American heartland. The murder culminates their lives of frustration, greed, and vulgarity. Unfortunately, Harris spent more effort digging up information than she did writing the book; so the more-than-casual reader must read and reread its pages to piece together the sequence of events and the scope of the Isa family's involvement with Abu Nidal. Doing so repays the effort, however, for Harris has compiled a treasure trove of materials on two usually elusive subjects.
'Honor killing' shakes up Sweden after man slays daughter who wouldn't wed
By Carol J. Williams Los Angeles Times
E-mail this article
Print this article
BOTKYRKA, Sweden — When Fadime Sahindal told police her life had been threatened, they gave her an alarm system. When she approached politicians for help, they told her to make peace with her parents.
And when she appealed in television interviews for aid in escaping a death sentence imposed by her father after she refused an arranged marriage, she provoked sympathy among Swedes — whose more liberal outlook she shared — but little willingness to get involved in a family matter.
Now that she's dead, shot in the head by her father, the 26-year-old victim of an "honor killing" is drawing attention to the cultural double standards she battled.
Details of the killing were released from police records after her father, Rahmi, was charged yesterday with her murder.
She was shot by her father as she left the apartment where she had secretly visited her mother and sisters in the quiet university town of Uppsala, 40 miles north of Stockholm, court officials said.
Rahmi, who said he acted to save his family's honor, has pleaded guilty to murder.
Fadime had fled her family home because her father and other male relatives did not want her to mix with Swedes and were trying to arrange a marriage for her in Turkey. Her father threatened her when she dated a young Swede, prompting her to go into hiding.
Fadime, who had spoken in Parliament and on TV about difficulties faced by young women from immigrant families, was gunned down in front of her mother and two younger sisters.
The Sahindal family moved to Sweden from a rural village in Turkey more than 20 years ago.
Sahindal has become a martyr among women who came to this liberal country from patriarchal cultures.
No comprehensive statistics exist to show the extent of such honor killings here and elsewhere in Scandinavia, where whole communities of Kurds and other Muslim groups have found refuge.
Sahindal's death has exposed the region's failure to integrate immigrants into these societies. Having long looked the other way when religious and cultural clashes came to public attention, Swedes are pondering what more they could and should have done.
"The system isn't working," said Dilsa Demirbag-Sten, a former government adviser on integration affairs, who accuses authorities of acting as if certain rights and freedoms accorded Nordic residents, such as gender equality and protection from forced marriage, are not necessarily applicable to immigrants.
Immigrants have been coming to Sweden in increasing numbers in the past decade to fill a persistent labor shortage. They also take advantage of the country's liberal asylum policy.
But institutional flaws — such as the two years on average it takes to get a decision on asylum requests — encourage those waiting for permanent refuge to band together in bleak housing projects in what amounts to self-imposed segregation.
At least 15 percent of Sweden's 9 million residents are non-Nordic and heavily concentrated in volatile ghettos of Somalis, Kurds, Bosnians and dozens of other groups.
"There are places just outside of Stockholm where the entire population is foreign. These people aren't living in Sweden at all," said Keya Izol, head of the Federation of Kurdish Associations in Sweden, referring to towns and suburbs such as Botkyrka, a 30-minute drive from Stockholm.
A 1995 reform of laws on refugees and immigration has worsened the situation, Izol said, by focusing training and jobs on the younger generation, causing strains within families as well as between immigrants and Swedes.
"We have been too slow to integrate the older generation and too fast in integrating the younger ones," former Danish Justice Minister Erling Olsen said.
Nalin Pekgul, a Social Democratic legislator of Kurdish origin in Sweden, shares the revulsion over Sahindal's killing but cautions against interpreting an act of criminal extremism as typical of fundamentalist immigrants.
"Sweden has done a better job than most countries with integration, which is why this case has caused such strong reaction," Pekgul said.
As a figure of respect in Sweden's 40,000-strong Kurdish community, Pekgul tried to intervene on Sahindal's behalf. The young woman had given interviews to Swedish media about the death threats from her father and brother, Masud, a level of defiance that Pekgul feared was only enhancing the danger.
The lawmaker negotiated a compromise in 1998 by which Sahindal agreed to stay away from Uppsala and her father promised not to stalk her outside their hometown while she was living in seclusion near Stockholm.
In recent years, Sahindal had been pursuing a sociology degree and become an outspoken advocate of the opportunities Nordic immigration presented for women from fundamentalist backgrounds.
Information from Seattle Times news services is included in this report.
quote:A family friend summed up the extent of the distress: "It's going to destroy the Somali community."
Hey, I'm as sympathetic as anyone to the problem of an overly-interventionist government intruding on the family. It's still a big problem. But let's face it: If you're worried about the destruction of "the Somali community" then you should have stayed in Somali where holding knives to the throats of daughters is presumably commonplace and acceptable.
It's ironic how this all works though. Had this been a white man holding a knife to his white daughter's throat there's probably NO WAY he gets off with a suspended sentence and a token fine. But love of diversity being what it is (or simply the fear of being seen as racist) this guy gets off rather lightly.
Mr. Somali man, you've got the best of both worlds and just don't realize it. Living in America you have a great many freedoms you wouldn't otherwise have in Somalia. And because you're a minority in America you have a great many freedoms that most Americans don't have, so shut up and enjoy it.
Posts: 5365 | From: Washington State | Registered: Sep 2001
| IP: Logged |
The problem you identify as diversity considerations taken to an extreme in our increasingly liberal U.S. culture is not unlike the case where the Swedes played hands off with the young Muslim woman until she was dead, then began talking about better programs to inculcate refugees. If there's any hope of transforming these retrograde cultures through the immigrant experience, it will be to maintain our own distinctive value system so that generations of Muslims who want to part ways with certain aspects of their heritage can do so. Not surprisingly, it has been the liberal universities that have played into the hands of Islamists involved in Hamas and other terrorist organizations, not to mention the jaundiced liberal eye turned to the reports of militant immans spreading their poison in U.S. mosques where fundamentalists wary of western influences are ready to take up the sword, at least in ideology. As I've said before, it isn't much of a stretch to take up arms against your own country to protect tribal kinship laws if those kinship bonds already have you justifying "honor" killings within your own family. The alleged strong distinction between Islamic fundamentalists and the militant variety mystifies me.
quote:If there's any hope of transforming these retrograde cultures through the immigrant experience, it will be to maintain our own distinctive value system so that generations of Muslims who want to part ways with certain aspects of their heritage can do so.
Yes, but what do you say to those who insist that “diversity” is the promised land and that the integration of which you speak is somehow not recognizing and respecting other cultures? Oh…wait…America too has a culture and it’s one that is ABOVE petty concerns of race, religion, sex, etc. Maybe that’s why so many OTHER cultures flock to America. Hmmm. I might be onto something.
quote:The problem you identify as diversity considerations taken to an extreme in our increasingly liberal U.S. culture is not unlike the case where the Swedes played hands off with the young Muslim woman until she was dead, then began talking about better programs to inculcate refugees.
Phil and you would know much better about these things, but isn’t that what they call “enabling” behavior? Maybe it’s just cowardice. To take a stand on something – anything – requires someone to stick their neck out and say that this is right and this is wrong. I’m not surprised that there are fewer and fewer people willing to do that. If you ask me I think a lot of this “passivity” is viewed as kindness when it is actually inappropriate inaction. One can easily delude one’s self that they are simply being “sensitive.”
Posts: 5365 | From: Washington State | Registered: Sep 2001
| IP: Logged |
It has taken something like 911 to make "discrimmination" something slightly less than an ugly word. Most Americans support profiling of Muslims, perhaps even the liberals who have to use the airline system on a regular basis. Even some Muslims support it. But when you refer to integration of immigrants, I'm thinking further down stream for changes in the indigenous culture, where it may remain intact in smaller enclaves, but is diluted the longer it is exposed to the freedoms and laws in our country that presuppose a good deal of individual accountability.
I've seen this diluting effect among Hispanic friends, two in particular. Both are much more products of their indigenous culture's weakening than its original stability in Mexico. They are both in a precarious place, however; each suffers from the failings of the tribal family system, neither having enough support during their formative years to escape its entropic effects on their individuality. But each has nearly grown children that have thrived because of these changes. Of course, it's the liberals who want to excuse Mexicans from having to learn English in public schools, which is a good example of how narcissistic their agendas can be, since failing to accomplish the English language is a sure ticket to poor employment opportunity. Affirmative Action has similar flaws.
Your so right about the risks of ennabling these behaviors, especially since Muslims probably won't question their family system on their own anyway. There is a case in Florida, I believe, where a Muslim man is soon to be tried for murdering his wife and the man who posed as her husband for a green card. Actually, the Muslim man took a green card spouse himself, but I guess the mere idea of his wife having affiliations beyond him wore his patience down too quickly. Who knows what really went on, but I wonder if the fellow who beat his daughter and was given probation and a restraining order wasn't sobered a bit by the news of his compatriot headed for a murder trial. In any case, I agree with you: he should have gotten jail time for assault, although the evidence was apparently lacking. One would hope the teenage child was trusted by the jury or judge if her testimony was consistent. Without other witnesses, such as a forthcoming mother, courts may go light on first time offenders who don't rape or leave visible scars. But your comment on favoring ethnic minorities wasn't lost on me.
Voters in Virginia might want to take a closer look at one of your upcoming candidates for state senator. Here's mention of it from Daniel Pipes' website:
"Hussein Ibish's Favorite Political Candiate? Kamal Nawash, an immigration lawyer and legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) since 1997, has thrown his hat in the ring as a Republican candidate for state senator in the 31st district of Virginia. His campaign website offers stances only on the sort of issues a state senator might deal with (baseball stadium construction, traffic, property taxes, etc.) but, as a long-standing staffer of the extremist ADC and a colleague of the notorious Hussein Ibish, one cannot wonder what Nawash thinks on national issues such as the need to take steps to protect the country from Islamist terrorists who wish to enter it. (September 10, 2003) Permalink"
IP: Logged |