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According to Asma Al-Ghoul, an Arab Palestinian feminist who has focused on Arab honor killings, Najla’ A., 24, a divorced woman living in Rafah in Gaza, was strangled by her extremist brother while sleeping because she used to be away from home for long hours, which ignited rumors about her behavior. After the police discovered what had happened, her family bribed the police and they let the brother go. (Al-Ghoul does not date this case).
In typical Arab style, President Abbas has said he has done something but he has really done nothing. He has not yet signed his vow into law or published it. Abbas has used the unexpected outcry against the (non-honor) murder of a young woman who is being called a “martyr,” and whose reputation was above reproach, to stage a symbolic but actually toothless response to the very real epidemic of honor killings among Arabs. According to experts, judges do not rely upon the “mitigating factor” provision when they hand down lenient sentences for honor murderers. According to Haaretz, a newspaper with which I generally do not agree, here are the facts about what Abbas did (and didn’t) do:
[A] review of the draft of the presidential decree indicates that judges in Palestinian courts, who showed leniency toward murderers – handing down sentences ranging from six months to three or four years in prison in such cases – did not necessarily rely on the two problematic clauses mentioned above, but rather, on other articles not even mentioned in the presidential decree.
In addition, there is this: Aya is being presented as a “chaste” and “noble” girl who did nothing wrong according to Arab standards. What about those Arab girls and women who refuse to veil or to accept arranged marriages? Or who are seen as too “Western?” Do Abbas and Arab society still believe that such women deserve to be honor murdered? In what way are their civil and personal rights protected under the rule of the Palestinian Authority or under Hamas’s rule in Gaza?
As usual, the Western and Arab media is not that helpful. In this instance, the Associated Press reporters have further misled the public by failing to understand that Aya Baradiya’s murder, however heinous, was not an honor killing—at least not in the classical sense. They present the facts but fail to analyze them properly.
Furthermore, why did the AP reporters chose to quote Suha Arafat and Hanan Ashrawi, two prominent Palestinian women who masquerade as feminist activists but who have done nothing to combat or expose honor killings in Palestinian society? Suha claims that she tried to persuade her late husband, Yaser Arafat, the terrorist leader, to do something about the problem, but there is no record of this. As for Ashrawi, I searched far and wide for anything that she might have said or done about honor killings before AP quoted her, but there appears to be nothing. Her 1995 memoir, This Side of Peace: A Personal Account, doesn’t contain a single reference to honor killings.
Both claim to have secretly aided would-be honor killing victims. Again, the only networks I know about are Israeli Jewish feminist networks and Christian feminist networks. Like Edward Said, Ashrawi is a Christian, and yet somehow I doubt she would have jeopardized her only-woman status on the Executive Committee of the PLO to help the most vulnerable of her gender in distress. Finally, the only “safe” place an Arab girl or woman can be easily spirited away to is…Israel.
Suha Arafat and Ashrawi are propagandists, ideologues, uber-nationalists who have justified terrorism and demonized Israel. This is their strong suit. They are not feminist activists. Next time, AP should interview Asma Al-Ghoul, who was among the eight female journalists who were arrested, beaten, and tortured by Hamas this past March in Gaza.
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