By T.O. Avila
Thirty-four North American imams signed a fatwa this month condemning the practice of honor killings after a Canadian court convicted Afghan immigrants of murdering female relatives for damaging their family’s reputation.
Twenty-eight Muslim religious leaders in Canada and six in the United States made the call in a religious order issued by the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC).
“All family issues must be resolved within the laws of the country we live in,” the order said. “There is no justification for honor killings, domestic violence and misogyny in Islam.”
The fatwa has received almost no coverage in the U.S. mainstream media, which has been complicit in the demonization of Muslim-Americans since the terror attacks of 9/11. The paucity of mainstream media coverage is reminiscent of the treatment of a call for ethical renewal by Jewish leaders in 2009, after Bernard Madoff was arrested for running a Wall Street investment scheme.
Many of the same news organization that opeted not to run stories about the prohibition on honor killing and the call to ethical renewal routinely provides extensive coverage of hate-filled rhetoric by clerics of all faiths, even those with little or no following.
Florida nutjob Terry Jones‘ burning of Koran was front-page news even though his church only has a congregation of 50. Likewise, Hasidic Rabbi Yehuda Levin‘s gay bashing received extensive coverage even though he has only a handful of followers and rabbincal titles are common among Hasidic men, who have tried to escape accountability for past acts of intolerance by rebranding themselves as “Modern Orthodox.”
The 9/11 attacks were made by the Muslim extremists of the Al Quaeda movement based in Afghanistan. Thirteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia – a staunch U.S. ally and major oil supplier.
The moderate beliefs of the vast majority of Muslims in North America bear little resemblance to the extremist beliefs embraced by Al Quaeda and the House of Saud. However, Fox News and the hate-traders of talk radio have sought to demonize all Muslims in recent years, even to the extent of fighting an attempt by a moderate Muslim American to establish a mosque and community center near The World Trade Center to lobby for religious tolerance.
The far right’s scapegoating of Mulim-Americans has led to attacks across the country, which range from the stabbing of New York City taxi drivers to the beating of an 8-year-old boy in Kentucky who was left unconscious in a school bathroom, hanging from a hook. The campaign includes the suppression of moderate presentations of Muslim-Americans like the “All-American Muslim” reality TV show on TLC. The Lowe’s home repair chain pulled its advertising last year from the show, which follows five families in Dearborn, Michigan – home to one of the nation’s largest Arab-American communities – after it was targeted by the Florida Family Association, which is challenging Westboro Church for religious-intolerant of the year honors.
David Cato, founder of the small Tampa-based conservative Christian group, told the Agence France Press news service that All-American Muslim was a propaganda attempt to counter U.S. opposition to Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.
“Rarely has the United States seen a more reckless and bare-knuckled campaign to vilify a distinct class of people and compromise their fundamental civil and human rights than the recent rhetoric against Muslims,” wrote Robert Steinback of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The incident that spurred the public honor-code prohibition was the trial of Ontario businessman Mohammad Shafia, 58; his wife Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21. They were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison in the honor killings of his first wife and three daughters.
Canada has seen 13 honor killings, which are common in the Middle East and South Asia, since 2002, according to AFP.
Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the ISCC, told AFP the public prohibition on honor killings prohibition was needed to clear up some misunderstandings about Islam by non-Muslims that arose in connection with the trial.
“Beating or abusing a family member in order to force them to follow Islam is not acceptable to Allah,” the fatwa says. “Parents have the responsibility to educate children about the teachings of Islam, but they have no right to abuse or harm them. They need to be a role model.”