Less than a week ago, a Saudi Arabian woman by the name of Dina Ali Lasloom was making her way from Kuwait to Australia via the Philippines in an effort to escape her extreme and reprehensible family.
Upon arrival in the Philippines, she was detained and her travel documents removed.
Dina was made to wait for Saudi officials and her powerful uncle to collect her, at which point she was flown back to Manila Airport and taken to a Saudi detainment centre.
During the trip it’s been reported that Dina was beaten and abused by the Saudi men, and we know from witnesses at the airport that upon arrival they gagged Dina with duct tape and covered her with a sheet.
As far as I am aware, Dina is still being held at the women’s detainment centre, but her uncles have reportedly agreed publicly that she will become the victim of an honour killing if she is returned to their care.
(For the full story, click here.)
Dina made herself very visible through social media and thus allowed us outsiders an insight into such practises – but this is not an unusual story for women in Muslim countries, and goes almost entirely unreported in the West.
As perplexing as it may be, in countries considered to be at the forefront of feminist campaigning, and where women can access every right allowed to men – not to mention reproductive rights: still, the struggle of Middle Eastern women is almost entirely ignored (and their histories rewritten for convenience).
For instance, it is common to hear the justification of the wearing of veils as being a “cultural” practise and a woman’s right: yet when there were women ministers in the Iranian government during the 20th century, one of the first priorities was the ban of hijab and similar dress.
What may come as even more of a shock to many in the West is the practise of honour killing as it exists in Europe, America and even Canada (not to mention that supposedly moderate Islamic member of the EU – Turkey).
Sarah and Amina.
In July 2016, the New York Post ran a story entitled: ‘We’re so afraid of Muslims we’re ignoring domestic honour killing’.
The piece by Andrea Peyser, told the story of Sarah and Amina – two sisters of 17 and 18 who were tricked into their fathers car and never got out again.
According to the article, Sarah dialled 911 that evening and told the operator:
“Oh my god, I’m dying!”
Yaser, the father of the two girls fired altogether 11 bullets into the backs of their heads before abandoning the car in a hotel car park.
In a shocking revelation, Peyser writes:
“But the most alarming facet of this savagery is that it was not committed in some Middle Eastern hellhole. Sarah and Amina Said are believed to be the victims of “honor killings” carried out not in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, but in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas. Yaser Said was said by an angry relative to have molested his American children, beaten them into near-submission and promised them in marriage to much older men in his native Egypt. They resisted, and it may have cost them their lives.
But, with authorities, feminists and researchers cowed by accusations of “Islamophobia,” you will not find the Said sisters’ murders included in any official government count of honor killings committed in this country. Those numbers do not exist, and it is the shame of the United States.”
Given the lack of recognition within US law or police departments, any attempt to decrease the number of honour killings in the country seems almost impossible: how does one solve a problem without acknowledging the root cause of it?
Given the lack of hard statistics in the United States, we must rely on estimates for a figure as to the number of honour killings committed in the country.
According to the article, a study published in 2015 by the US Department of Justice estimated that between 23 and 27 honour killings happen annually in the US – that’s one every two weeks.
Recognition of the nature of the crime seems far from a done deal in the current climate of terror at the prospect of being labelled an ‘Islamophobe’ – but while this recognition would not bring young women such as Sarah and Amina back to us, it would be a sure step towards establishing preventative measures.
The Shafia Murders.
In June 2009, Rona Amir Mohammed (age 50) was murdered alongside her three daughters: Zainab, Sahar and Geeti (ages 19, 17 and 13).
The horrendous event took place in Ontario, Canada.
The women had been members of a polygamous Muslim family: husband to Rona and father to the three girls, Mohammad Shafia was arrested a month later along with his second wife and son for the crime.
All three were convicted of four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
The Shafia family had come to Canada in 2007, originally from Afghanistan but having moved between Australia and United Arab Emirates since leaving their home country in 1992.
Mohammad took a second wife due to Rona being infertile, and when making the move to Canada Rona was put down as the aunt of the children (to get around the polygamy ban).
Rona became, in the words of Mohammad’s second wife Tooba: “a slave”.
Rona was allegedly not allowed access to her passport or travel documents and despite begging her husband for a divorce, was made to remain in a life of marital servitude.
Eldest daughter of the family, Zainab was in a relationship with a young man from Pakistan – another source of contention which lead to death threats from Mohammad.
First thought to be an accident, the four women had drowned after the Lexus in which their bodies were found had been submerged in a canal.
It was soon established that the family had two cars, and there was evidence to show that the Lexus had been rammed into the water by the Nissan also owned and used by the Shafias, and so (with additional testimony from family members on the relations between the family) Mohammad, Tooba and their son Hamed were convicted on all charges.
Elsewhere in the world, Europe has an ever expanding Muslim population and even some fully Islamic nations within the Union.
Turkey is often touted as a fairly liberal Islamic country, but within the state there has long been a well reported divide between the country’s liberal values and traditional Islamic ones.
In the Islamic world, it is not only women who face the looming threat of honour killings, but gay men also.
In 2008, 26 year old Turkish student Ahmet Yildiz was killed after travelling to attend an LGBT event in San Francisco – the home of gay culture in the US.
It was reported that Yildiz was shot while exiting a cafe near the Bosphorus in Istanbul, before attempting to escape in his car.
Yildiz lost control of the car as a result of his injuries and crashed – he died later that day in hospital.
Ahmet is widely considered to be the first example of a gay man being targeted in an honour killing in the country, and represents a repugnant step back for Turkish culture.
A neighbour of Yildiz’ spoke to the Independent on the subject of his relationship with his parents:
“They would argue constantly, mostly about where he was, who he was with, what he was doing.”
Ahmet’s family had previously pressured him to go to some form of therapy to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality, and he had complained to authorities of receiving death threats leading up to the fateful day.
Ahmet’s death was the result of a long tradition of Islamic intolerance and homophobia, and his traditionalist family refused to take responsibility for or attend his funeral.
According his neighbour:
“When the death threats started, his boyfriend tried to persuade him to get out of Turkey. But he stayed. He was too brave. He was too open.”
Honour Killings in Europe.
In Istanbul a year after the murder of Ahmet Yildiz, the Council of Europe Gender Equality Committee met – the result was that the honour killing situation in Europe was far worse than previously calculated.
According to the subsequent report:
“Here in Turkey the figures for 2007 show that over 200 women were killed here in the name of family or community honour, and that is frankly unacceptable in a modern Europe. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg: In the United Kingdom; in Germany; in Belgium; in France; in Norway, there is evidence of honour crimes and honour killings.”
The Council agreed that an important step in the right direction would be for European countries to enact harsher sentences for honour killings than those given for other murders – something which Turkey has done in an attempt to curtail the brutality.
Other measures to be taken were the opening of more women’s shelters for Muslim communities where women could escape the violence of their zealot families.
Honour Killings in the United Kingdom – Shafilea Ahmed.
In September 2016, The Debrief published an article examining honour killings and Islamic violence in the United Kingdom.
According to the article, there were 11 cases of honour killings recorded by police in the UK between 2010-2014.
However, there are an estimated 12-15 women lost to the practise per year according to the Halo Project (and it’s thought that the actual figure may even be higher).
One such deceased was Bradford-born Pakistani Shafilea Ahmed.
Shafilea was 17 in 2004 when she was murdered, and had been viewed by her parent as bringing shame upon her family for her friendships with boys of other cultures, and her refusal to go along with her parents proposals of arranged marriage.
The year before she died, Shafilea had attempted suicide by drinking bleach – something her parents denied even after her death.
According to the Guardian:
“The violence meted out by her parents escalated in the months before her death and she was frequently held down and beaten by both of them. Her teenage years were punctuated by household chores late at night at the house in Warrington, Cheshire, before she was allowed to begin her schoolwork.”
How did her parents get away with abusing their daughter in such ways as these?
They claimed racial prejudice on occasions when social services or schools attempted to intervene – a hefty weapon in today’s politically correct climate.
Finally, after all her years of struggle Shafilea was murdered by her parents when they stuffed a plastic bag into her mouth, suffocating her.
Going Forward From #SaveDinaAli.
This week, people from many distant corners of the world (and corners of the internet) were allowed an insight into the sickness of a culture which places honour before life and sometimes contingent upon death.
Even if she is beyond all reasonable hope of help at this point, she has done us a great service in highlighting the horror of this defunct way of thinking by making herself so visible that the world paid attention (whether willingly or not).
As I have mentioned, Dina is currently (so far as I know) still in the detainment centre she was brought to following her capture and brutalisation.
When she is released she faces a fate similar to those deceased that I have listed in this article.
There may be little we in the West can do for women like Dina Ali Lasloom when they are within their own Islamic countries and subject to Sharia law – but there is no good reason for the sadistic and stupid killing of innocents (and often the young) to continue in our secular nations.
None at all but taboo and fear of being labelled bigots: it is a practise which needs to end.