Well over a decade ago when I was working part-time in a Philadelphia calling center, one of the employees, an artist, asked a fellow employee if he would pose for him for a series of sketches he was doing for an art class. Although the situation seemed innocent enough, the 20-year-old employee who was asked to pose told his family about the artist’s “proposition,” and that’s when nasty stuff hit the fan.
The artist was hauled in before company supervisors and interrogated about his proposed sketches and was eventually fired, but not before the mother of the 20-year-old came to the calling center to personally interrogate the artist, demanding to know why he selected her son out of 100 employees to pose for him. Suddenly the artist found himself in a position of defending himself against charges of immorality. The proposed sketches in the mother’s mind had turned into something pornographic, which they were not. The artist explained to the mother that the sketches were to be fully clothed facial and upper body images, and nothing more. The mother seemed happy with this explanation but when the conversation was over she went to the company head and demanded that the artist be fired.
As it turned out, the mother and her family were first generation Muslim immigrants.
In Islam there can be sticky points when it comes to drawing or sketching any part of the body, be it an earlobe, chin, eyeball sockets or a facial profile. Sketching any part of the body is forbidden. In fact, there are many strongly worded hadith narrations warning against making images of living things, which before the 10th Century meant drawing and sculpture.
“Those who do this will be in the fire and they will be condemned for making imitation of nature and will be challenged to bring their artistic creations to life.”
Fortunately for the artist, who didn’t even know that the man he wanted to draw was Muslim, he sued the company and won.
In 1936, the Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc wrote,
”In Koranic law, contracts are to be conscientiously drawn up in the presence of witnesses. Murder, manslaughter, and suicide are explicitly forbidden, although blood revenge is allowed. In case of personal injury, the law of retaliation is approved.”
That law of retaliation can take many forms. In the artist’s case, it came in the form of a hypocritical, two-faced mother who led the artist to believe that all was okay, but who then turned around and went out of her way to see that his employment was terminated.
The calling center incident is a 21st Century cautionary tale — although it is a mild example compared to what usually takes place when it comes to Islamic retaliation.
In the Lawndale section of Philadelphia recently, a 41-year-old woman, Leila al Raheel, was decapitated by her 34-year-old husband in the kitchen of their home. Ahmad Shareef was apprehended six blocks from the scene of the murder, hiding behind a clump of bushes. The mainstream news media reported the crime as yet another example of “generic” domestic violence. The police even called it a “domestic homicide,” without elaborating or speculating on a motive, as well as hiding the fact that the alleged killer was Muslim.
Joanne Otero-Cruz, who runs Women Against Abuse, a nonprofit in Philadelphia, was quoted in reference to the above murder as saying, “A lot of people actually experience this. There is help out there.”
Let’s step back a moment.
Most female domestic abuse victims do not experience decapitation. Decapitation with a knife by a “loved one” has a decidedly Muslim flavor — but of course it was impossible for Otero-Cruz to reference this subtext, or to bring up the possibility of an honor killing. Had she done so this would have led to charges of stereotyping and “Islamophobia,” as every mainstream news reporter by now realizes. Multiple reports of the Lawndale murder kept to the “generic” domestic abuse scenario, as if something had gone terribly wrong in (yet another) Brady Bunch household.
Freedom Center website Jihad Watch, the notable exception when it came to reporting about the murder, published the following headline:
“Philadelphia: Muslim accused of beheading woman who was treated like a slave.”
Finally, some honesty…
Most of the big news media outlets mentioned nothing about the victim being treated like a slave, although NBC10 did manage to quote a neighbor of the victim, who said, “The woman…they treat her like a slave. She runs in and out of the house barefoot. She really never goes anywhere else. She carries all of their bags in. They scream at her…”
The neighbor, Nyiha Richardson, also told reporters that she had witnessed “several problems at the home in the past, including Shareef running outside half naked and threatening neighbors to the point in which one family moved away.”
NBC10 also reported that neighbors stated there were mental health issues in the home, and that the home has been a problem for a long time. Charges of “Islamophobia” kept reporter after reporter from connecting the dots and writing about this unusual method of execution (beheading) and its connection to an Islamic household. Was this fact not newsworthy?
Why did readers have to go to Jihad Watch to discover that Ahmad Shareef was Muslim?
“One in four women experience domestic violence, one in 10 men, so the reality is that people are experiencing domestic violence every day,” Otero-Cruz elaborated, as if decapitations were as common as black eyes and a broken jaw.
On the other hand, Jihad Watch stated,
“There is, of course, domestic violence in all cultures. So to post this is just ‘Islamophobic,’ right? Wrong: there is domestic violence in all cultures. But only in one does it have divine sanction. Islam doesn’t teach that man may kill his wife, but once you’ve allowed him to beat her, accidents will happen,”
The U.S. Department of Justice in 2016 (a time when the DOJ had more credibility) identified four types of honor violence: forced marriage, honor-based domestic violence, honor killing and female genital mutilation. The DOJ report estimated that 23 to 27 honor killings occur per year in the U.S. and that over 90 percent of the victims in North America are killed for being “too westernized.” Many of the cases involve fathers and daughters 18 years of age or under. Muslims account for 91 percent of honor killings worldwide.
Facts are facts.
But not all Muslims, mind you. Certainly not the nice, secular Muslim family in my immediate neighborhood whose domestic life seems indistinguishable from any other household in the area, except perhaps the time the family in question celebrated the gutting of a deer on the floor of their garage for the whole neighborhood to see. Yet again, these are non-practicing secular Muslims who probably don’t even own a Koran, although if one were to walk in certain sections of West Philadelphia near 45th Street, one would see vast Muslim enclaves and a large mosque with a Byzantine-style dome that used to be a Catholic Church.
Here the mostly black Muslim population dresses in traditional Islamist garb while they make their way from one halal restaurant to the next. While it’s all not quite Dearborn, Michigan—long criticized by conservatives for its Sharia law tendencies (which would include honor killings)—one senses that it is a building community, so who knows what the future holds?
The national reluctance to be straightforward about Islam can be traced to George W. Bush’s bizarre “acceptance” of Islam after the attacks of 9/11, when he went out of his way to visit mosques and to call Islam a “Religion of Peace.” Orwellian double-speak like this carried over into the Obama administration when Obama refused to use phrases like “Islamist terrorism” to describe the brutality of ISIS. It was also Obama who made the peculiar comment at a National Prayer Breakfast that Christians attacked Muslims 800 years ago at the height of the Crusades.
Shortly after 9/11, the mainstream media’s primary concern focused on unprovoked attacks on Muslims as retribution for the murder of so many Americans on that fateful day. Media personalities and politicians suddenly had to watch what they said about certain passages in the Qur’an in discussions about terrorism, such as the 47:4 verse that explicitly states, “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks…”
Both Obama and Bush believed—feared is a better word—that any emphasis on Islam as the world’s foremost harbinger of terror would generate wide-scale attacks and assaults on Muslim Americans, which never did occur. In fact, as Michael Barone of the Chicago Sun Editorial Board pointed out, “government statistics count far fewer ‘hate crimes’ against Muslims than against Jews.”
Barone also stated that most terrorists these days are Muslims; and most Muslims are not terrorists: “We keep similar things in mind every day. We notice that most dangerously aggressive drivers are men, but most men are not dangerously aggressive drivers. “
In 2016, Fox News, quoting experts, pointed out that hidden among thousands of nondescript murders labeled as domestic violence are mounting numbers of killings motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam. “Honor killings and violence, which typically see men victimize wives and daughters because of behavior that has somehow insulted their faith, are among the most secretive crimes in society.”
And there you have it.
AHA Foundation founder and female genital mutilation survivor Ayaan Hirsi All, wrote, “In sharp contrast with domestic violence, families and communities often condone honor violence, which makes it more difficult to identify and stop.”