Can this culture be saved?

Honest to God, I really do wonder sometimes if the garden-variety fusion betwen Islamic and Arabic culture is salvageable:

A teenage Iraqi girl who fell in love with a British soldier when he was in Basra was murdered by her father in an “honour killing”, it was revealed today.

Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, was suffocated and then hacked at with a knife after her family discovered she was friends with the 22-year-old soldier who she knew only as Paul.

The pair first met when Rand was working on an aid project for displaced families but it is thought the soldier is unaware of the girl’s fate.

She was stamped on, suffocated and stabbed – leaving her with puncture wounds all over her body, including her face.

Her own mother, Leila Hussein, has spoken out about the crime, revealing how her husband called out that he was cleansing “his honour” as he carried out the murder.

She told the Observer he was arrested after the brutal murder but was released without charge two hours later because it was an “honour killing”.

“He was released two hours later because it was an ‘honour killing’. And unfortunately that is something to be proud of for any Iraqi man,” she told the paper.

***

Five months on, she was brutally killed and buried without the traditional mourning ceremony in a mark of her “impurity”.

Her uncles are also said to have spat on her body because of the shame they felt she had brought on the family.

These people were not “radical Islamists,” they were not bomb throwers, they were just an every day family of Arab Muslims whose men mutilated a 17 year old girl to death and spat on her body because she had the temerity to like a man. This ferocious level of misogyny and self-loathing (because only people who really hate themselves can be so insecure about the face they present to the world) may be beyond any remediation.

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  • Alex

    The peasant society of Iraq is unlikely to be rescued from its barbaric ignorance and attachment to savage customs – at least by outsiders. Unless we are prepared to prevent with necessary violence the brutality towards women in “traditional” Muslim communities, we can only remonstrate and admonish.

  • Gringo

    I wonder what the reaction of the PC people who cry “anti-Islamic” at the drop of a hat would be to this event. C.A.I.R.: what do you say about this?

    Those of the Muslim/Arab world appear to my uneducated eye to be much more bigoted than we in the West are. This event certainly does not alter my previously held opinion.

  • socratease

    If the Iraqi court system won’t even hold the murderer responsible for his acts, then there is no incentive to change. Maybe when the government starts getting serious about enforcing the law we can begin to hope. Until then, I’m reminded of the old joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one. But the light bulb has to WANT to change.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    The British broke the back of the Indian suttee tradition (widows burning themselves or being forced to burn on the flames of their husband’s funeral pyre), but the British weren’t hampered by PC multiculturalism. They genuinely believed that the Indian approach was barbaric and that the British, as Christians, had a moral duty to eradicate that stain. We have no such sense, of course.

  • 11B40

    Greetings:

    I agree with your point and share your concern that the current contra-Islam emotion is overlooking the importance of the underlying Arab culture’s impact. I believe that the two have an insidious synergy.

    Many agree that Islam contains a serious Arab supremacy component but fail to delve much deeper in their analyses. Obviously, the Arab culture that spawned Islam was primarily a nomadic, tribal culture and that cultures of this sort have a certain focus on matters of “honor” as a part of their world view. One of my fears is that even if Islam itself would disappear, would not that underlying culture still remain and continue to shape future behavior?

    I am currently reading “Culture and Conflict in the Middle East” by Philip Carl Salzman and much of what he writes about the nomadic, tribal cultures of that area resonates with the behaviors now being reported on in Europe where the “Muslim” populations are growing larger percentage-wise, resisting assimilation, and attempting to impose their religion and culture both through Sharia laws and outright thuggery. While, in what I have read so far, Mr. Salzman doesn’t address the “What’s Islam?” versus “What’s Arab tribal culture?” question, the conflict behaviors he analyzes are basically Muslim versus Muslim and yet reflect the current European situations.

    My hope is that greater reporting on and public approbation of these “honor” murders will lead to a deeper analysis of our Arab/Muslim problem.

  • pacificus

    Book,

    As awful as this and the many other stories like it are, we shouldn’t despair just yet. Deeply ingrained cultural practices and ways of thinking and being do not die out over night, and something as firmly rooted as Islam will be especially resistant to change. Compare our own experience here, in the Enlightenment regime extraordinaire, America, where the cascade of ill effects from slavery continues to this day, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the 14th Amendment, and the whole line of court cases seeking to eradicate racial discrimination. It has been over twenty years since the really serious effort began to eradicate tobacco smoking, and yet we still have smokers among us. If only we could muster as much indignation at the horrific practices of Islam as we do against those with the temerity to indulge in a completely legal product…

    The weakened state we find our governments in prevents the sort of response you remind us of, viz. the British in India. If the West could find the confidence once agan to assert the superiority of humane treatment, equality, fairness, and tolerance, it would speed things along. Yet even in the best case scenario, with Western elites all aligned properly in moral condemnation mode, it would still be a long time til we saw the last honor killing.

    Speaking of deeply ingrained cultural practices, how long do you think it will be before we are able to throw off the multi-culti pc straight jacket we’ve fitted up for ourselves here in the West?

  • Marguerite

    I notice that a British newspaper is the source, BW. I wonder if this is being reported in the MSM in the U.S.? Only pathetic excuses for men can be capable of such brutality in the name of honor — and then they come home to high-fives to glory in it.

  • Ymarsakar

    War is here to provide an immediate attempt at resolving such little human quirks, Book. Without war, you would not have mass slaughter and whole sale death. But you would never be able to get rid of those little human injustices that mattered the whole world to the specific individual that was getting shat on by the world.

    Killing millions to protect the liberty of a single individual may not make sense to those who practice clan warfare and European style war, but it makes every sense to proponents of American Total War. War can be made so horrid that no sane or insane person would ever dare to spark one by harming an individual’s liberty. And when one individual is protected, then the same protection is extended to everyone through the human herd mentality that replicates what the neighbors are doing.

    In the Arab world, honor is essentially your pride and good feeling about yourself, it is not integrity or self-sacrifice. It shares remarkable sensation with fake liberal “self-esteem”, where the ultimate source of such comes from race baiters and social welfare workers rather than the victim or the disenfranchised.

    In the Western world, chivalry developed to protect women since a tribe without women is a doomed tribe. Women were put on pedestals and locked away, yet they were too valued to kill outright or abused for they and their children are the future of any tribe. The peasants might have had different customs, but then so did a few nobles as well.

    In the Arab world, water, food, and clan loyalties were far more important than the value of any individual woman. In England a Queen rose to power, not once but several times. In Arabia? I don’t think so.

    In the Arab world, your status is given to you, you are never able to earn a higher status through good works ala Calvinism. Only through Jihad and attacking enemies can you earn a higher lot in life, and death, than what you have now.

    So it makes perfect sense for an Arab man, that believes that a wrong has been committed, to kill the source of the problem. It has worked for clan warfare for decades in which you can’t kill the “other tribe’s members” for you might spark the war that will end your own tribe. So the easy solution was to kill your own clan members. Neat, efficient, and avoids warfare.

    This is the price of avoiding war and let none dare challenge that truth. Those that are not willing to slaughter one fifth, three thirds, or 100% of the enemy will sacrifice any number of individuals to avoid a conflict that they will find it hard to win. Since any numbers of “individuals” is far less high a price than the result of a clan or total war would produce.

    A nation or a clan that will go to a war to the knife if you harmed one of their members is a tribe that would rather extinguish itself and its future line than to see one of its own offered up to the sacrificial altar. Those tribes are notoriously hard to subjugate. The Kurds and Gurkhas are only two warrior tribes of such caliber. America, also, has shown such tendencies to lash out against threats when a few Americans were harmed. This applied to the sinking of the Lusitania in WWI and Pearl harbor in WWII. But lately, with the Iranian Hostage Feting, 9/11, and numerous other incidents in and near Somalia, Americans and their political leadership are beginning to show Arabic tendencies to sacrifice the few for the many through avoiding warfare and conflict. Such is a coward’s way out and will never attain you master of anything in the long term.

    The Mongols or Huns didn’t rule what they did because they said “oh, you can kill and torture a few of our men, women, and children. It won’t bother us none until you are just too outrageous about it or if you kill too many.” You kill a member of the Huns and they’ll come back and wipe out your entire village and probably neighboring ones as well. Everything dies then. Men, women, children, dogs, cattle, pigs and whatever else walks on legs and breathes.

    That’s total war and it wasn’t until America came around that it was ameliorated to American Total Warfare where the defeated weren’t just wiped off the map.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Before we even consider attempting to do to honor killing what the Brits did to suttee, we need to make it clear by ACTIONS that we will not tolerate anything resembling these barbaric practices right here in the U.S.

    I refer not just to honor killing, but to female genital mutilation, the bhurka, and all the rest. Regardless of whose culture wishes to practice these and other horrors, it must be made clear that if we catch them doing it in OUR country, they’ll be shipped straight off home….with members of the family who didn’t participate (or who reported the violation?) given their choice of going or staying.

    How confident am I that we will have what it takes to do this? Not very.

  • Ymarsakar

    Maybe when the government starts getting serious about enforcing the law we can begin to hope. Until then, I’m reminded of the old joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one. But the light bulb has to WANT to change.

    Such things have nothing to do with people wanting to change and everything to do with making people change.

    The South didn’t magically welcome backs after they lost the Civil War. It took federal troops and crackdowns on the KKK insurgency to ensure that blacks weren’t terrorized and that Republican governments could stand in the South.

    When you look at the history, the US federal government really wanted to protect Amerindians and give the blacks legal protections and rights. So long as the locals down south, beholden to Democrat party and economic policies, refused to comply, then nothing could be done. ANd it wasn’t even because the people of the US South wanted slavery to live forever even, since Robert E Lee was against slavery and would have ended it if it was in his power.

    Breaking the hold of someone like Sadr and Iran in Basra and the south of Iraq is the first step that must be taken to change attitudes, because people will not change when the ruling powers like the status quo and the rulingp owers aren’t in Baghdad, they’re in Iran and the various criminal orgs in South Iraq.

    but the British weren’t hampered by PC multiculturalism.

    The British military and governors were operating far from home and so could apply solutions as problems came up without having to wait for HQ’s response a thousand miles away. Pershing had the same deal, with his military governorship of the Phillippines. In recent days, with speed of light coms and satellites, no longer can our generals and military apply solutions to immediate problems. Now they have to ask permission from HQ, and HQ has to take into account not the problems in the field, but the political problems back home, where they are sitting and living.

    All politics are local and that applies to a British governor and military in India just as much as it applies to an American military in Iraq beholden to both the Iraqi bureaucracy and the Washington DC bureaucracy.

    This is the problem with the system, which will live forever amongst human affairs.

    We have no such sense, of course.

    Our military on the ground facing the problems and murderers have far more concern and a power capacity to do something about it than the British military ever did. The problem is, our military at the front must ask the people at the back for permission, because the speed of communications has also made lawyers extend their legality issues across a far wider segment of the globe than could have been possible without light speed coms bouncing off sats.

    People back home behind the front always will feel less intensity and concern over the problems facing the front than the frontliners.

    One of my fears is that even if Islam itself would disappear, would not that underlying culture still remain and continue to shape future behavior?

    Western Romans and Eastern Romans had their problems with the Persians, Parthians, and Sassanids but those problems were one of limited warfare and a balance of powers. When Islam came on the scene, both the Persian Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire fell to it.

    Islam is the primary motivator of the fall of such civilizations, since it has been demonstrated that even in ancient times the people of Persia and Arabia could co-exist with Westerners such as Romans and Greeks. They had problems but it was nothing compared to what resulted from the spread of Islam in Arabia and Persia.

    There is a very high chance that Muslims burned down the library of Alexandria, destroying many priceless and unique works of Greek philosophy and wisdom. Before Islam, Arabic tribalism and bedouin practices were limited to Arabia since the eternal internecine fighting was easily manipulated by Rome and the Persians for their own ends. For example, the Sassanids had many Arab allied tribes that were overwhelmed by Mohammed’s jihad.

    Arabs can become our allies but true fire Muslims are far less likely to do what Arabs or Persians would.

  • Marguerite

    Earl – Come, come! You mean you would not show proper sensitivity to another religion’s customs in this country and prohibit said barbaric practices? Your point is an excellent one and I wonder if there are pockets in – say – Michigan where there is a movement toward the acceptance of Sharia as in Gt. Britain.

  • Quisp

    Bookworm, have you seen this excellent City Journal article about how the media downplays conflicts with Islam? http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_2_cultural_jihadists.html

  • expat

    It took Ataturk years to reform Turkey. Seventy years after the most substantial social reforms were enacted, in rural areas of Anatolia, old tribal customs persist. The migration of rural families to the cities is one of the reasons we are now seeing challenges to the secular reforms. It is foolish to think that outsiders can change ingrained cultural behaviours in a short time. The best option is to involve rural tribal sheiks in the government and to allow the Iraqis to reform at a pace the society can handle. There are reformers in Iraq, and our heavy-handed interference could make these people victims of a culture war.

  • expat

    Check out the Wikipedia entry for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It gives a sense of the time involved in making radical changes, and , as I said, they aren’t fully accepted today.

  • socratease

    Such things have nothing to do with people wanting to change and everything to do with making people change.

    The South didn’t magically welcome backs after they lost the Civil War. It took federal troops and crackdowns on the KKK insurgency to ensure that blacks weren’t terrorized and that Republican governments could stand in the South.

    You’re right as far as that goes, but Jim Crow and racial discrimination was our own issue to fight in our own back yard — this isn’t. (And it took us darn near a century to finish that job, anyway.) Multiculturalism aside, I don’t see any political will on either side of the isle to keep our military forces in Iraq long enough to impose that kind of societal change on them. If the Iraqis themselves don’t think it’s an issue, I don’t think anything is going to change.

  • Ymarsakar

    Multiculturalism aside, I don’t see any political will on either side of the isle to keep our military forces in Iraq long enough to impose that kind of societal change on them

    The Union didn’t keep federal forces in the South long enough, either, to force the kind of societal change that would have guaranteed the freedom and equality for freed black slaves in the South. All of the Radical Republican initiatives to safeguard freed black civil rights disappeared in smokes when the federal troops were pulled due to a compromise with Southern Democrats.

    ou’re right as far as that goes, but Jim Crow and racial discrimination was our own issue to fight in our own back yard — this isn’t.

    The fight of humanity in getting rid of parochial and self-defeating cultural legacies is everyone’s fight, even if it occurs in different times and places. What goes for one goes for the other, since humans are still involved and the same things are at issue.

    (And it took us darn near a century to finish that job, anyway.)

    partially because of Andrew Johnson and the Redemption Democrats which eventually resulted in the pullout of US federal troops out of the South.

    And if you think the job is finished, then you haven’t seen the institutional racism perpetrated by welfare and Democrat welfare policies in action.

  • Mike Devx

    Earl said,
    “Before we even consider attempting to do to honor killing what the Brits did to suttee, we need to make it clear by ACTIONS that we will not tolerate anything resembling these barbaric practices right here in the U.S.”

    I agree completely. We can’t fix everything in this dark world, but we can take care of our own backyard.

    Here in the Dallas area, we are still dealing with the horrifying killing of two teenage Muslim girls by their father, who disliked the direction their lives were heading. And, thus, he murdered them. And then this horrifying psychopath – oops, culturally misunderstood patriarch – fled to a foreign country to save his own sorry skin. Coward. Monster.

    We will be facing more and more of this. Unless we make a stand for individual rights and MAKE IT STICK.

    If I’m wrong about any of what follows, please yell at me! It might be offensive from a freedom of speech perspective…

    There can be no tolerance of those who preach the correctness of honor killings, nor of those who threaten it. This is not free speech by our standards; it is closer to yelling fire in a crowded theatre. It is a direct threat against a life to preach and advocate murder.

    In addition, we must make it absolutely clear that in this country, a Muslim has COMPLETE AND TOTAL FREEDOM to change his or her religion. At any second, any point in time, and for any reason whatsoever, throughout every second of any individual’s life: TOTAL FREEDOM TO CHANGE FAITH. We must never tolerate, not for one second, anyone even preaching that an individual that changes his religious faith should be put to death.

    We would never tolerate human cannibalism in the name of religion. Similarly, we must not tolerate honor killings nor the murder of those who change faith. We must not accept any preaching of these either; they must be illegal under the category of a direct threat to a life.

    I don’t think that “freedom of religion” prevents the murder of a Muslim who changes faith.
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” only restricts the State, I think. We need to make it absolutely clear that this is not allowed, nor is preaching it allowed.

    The only way I could be wrong about this, is if I am also wrong in the idea that I cannot use free speech to advocate the murder of everyone within an ethnic group. And even were I allowed to preach and advocate, right now: “Kill every person in America who has even an ounce of (for example) Korean blood!”, then I believe that that should not be considered free speech, and it should not be allowed.

    If you think I’m wrong, please let me know!

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Hurrah, Mike! I’m voting for you in the next election. I had precisely the same type of conversation several years ago with DQ when I said that, if people come to America, they bend to our ways, not we to theirs — and multiculturalism be damned. If they’d prefer their own mores, they need to stay in their own countries. And if I remember correctly, the trigger for that article was the story of a Muslim man in America who murdered his own daughter for “honor.”

  • Mike Devx

    Well, thank you, Book! I appreciate it! I confess I’m vague on how Supreme Court decisions affect the ability of people to advocate murder. Am I allowed, under free speech rights, to advocate the murder of a group of people? Can Imams in this country preach that apostates from their faith must be murdered?

    I’d like to identify why they can, or why they cannot.

    If they can, I want laws and amendments enacted affirming the right to change faiths (or to have no faith at all), and to punish those who advocate murder. I do understand, and affirm, the right of a community – in this case, the Muslim umma – to shun and ostracize those who depart from the mores of the community. I believe an Amish that chooses modernity must leave his or her community, is that not true? But I cannot accept the murder of apostates, and I cannot accept preachers who advocate it either. I want them punished.

    So, does anyone know if my thoughts follow established cases and what they are, or if not, what am I violating? I’d really like to be educated on this one!

  • jj

    Hmm – we would “never tolerate human cannabilism in the name of religion.” And at the center of the Catholic mass is… – well. Transubstantiation leading to a small snack before lunch?

    OK. Religion – any; all – fairly whacky.

    Barry Obama has already changed his religion and continues to walk around upright, so there’s at least one Muslim who seems to have successfully quit. (Or maybe not: could all just be a vastly elaborate subterfuge to get elected. After he gets into the white house he has 24 hours to resume bowing and scraping toward Mecca, or “boing” goes the Barry…) And if he could quit Islam so easy, what’s his issue with cigarettes?

    The question, then, becomes not “Can This Culture Be Saved;” but: “SHOULD This Culture Be Saved” – or is it just such crap it should be pitched over the nearest cliff and its former adherents invited to begin again?

    I incline to the latter view. Events have caught them up, they are no longer relevant, the place formerly occupied by them no longer exists: so toss it and start over. The manufacturers of buggy whips and wagon wheels had to face a hard truth regarding their personal relevance to a changing world; and the days of clan vengeance, and honor killing may have joined suttee on the shelf, right next to Zeus, Osiris, Om, and Ba’al.

    The world moves, the vast majority of us are no longer tribal and wandering in the wilderness: we had the wit to move out of the wilderness to better and kindlier climes, and the need for clan vengeance – or “clan” anything else that supported us through the tribal wandering years – subsided. The race no longer requires the culture that got us through the desert years. We aren’t in the desert any more. (“Desert” being something of a metaphor – don’t take it so literally!)

    Once the majority of the race has migrated away, which we have; and once we are somewhat beyond the primitivism that prevailed there; which we are -then the question becomes: do we need to hang on to this annoying, idiotic, and somewhat dangerous relic or artefact left over from those times?

    No. You are living in the seventh century, well before indoor plumbing, flu shots, shaved legs or the birth of Enzo Ferrari – and you have nothing to tell us. “People” magazine, which I do not read but spot in the market has a picture on the cover this week of a girl in a Prairie dress with a couple of little kids and the headline: “Inside the Cult.” Well, hell, “People:” take the same picture, draw a bag over her head with a porthole in it, extend the dress to drag on the ground, cross out the word “cult” and replace it with “Islam” – and what’s the difference?

    If that cult here in Utah isn’t worth saving, then neither is that other one in the Middle East, because there isn’t much difference between them. Except that the girl in the Prairie dress probably won’t be killed for some miniscule transgression – and she probably doesn’t WANT to kill anyone, either.