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"Pakistani Lawmaker Defends Honor Killings":

From an AP story posted this Sunday:

A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament this week to spare him their outrage.

"These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them," Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, said Saturday. "Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid." ...

Zehri told a packed and flabbergasted Parliament on Friday that Baluch tribal traditions helped stop obscenity and then asked fellow lawmakers not to make a big fuss about it.

Many stood up in protest, saying the executions were "barbaric" and demanding that discussions continue Monday. But a handful said it was an internal matter of the deeply conservative province....

I'm pleased that the Pakistani Parliament was indeed flabbergasted by this, but it's striking that even one lawmaker would justify this sort of murder. Thanks to Dan Gifford for the pointer.

Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I wouldn't be too sure that the Pakistani MPs were uniformly flabbergasted. A BBC poll of young "Asians" in the UK found that 10% of them supported honor killing. Its not like this is the attitude of only a few extremists.
9.4.2008 8:59pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There mabe only one legislator, but he was elected, no? By people who believe this stuff.
Many of his colleagues were elected by people who don't, but unless they got all the votes....
The poll is far more alarming than the existence of one pre-human in a legislature.
9.4.2008 9:15pm
Joshua:
Keep in mind that most traditional forms of Islam place very little value on existence in this life vis-a-vis one's existence in the afterlife. This incident may be striking by Western standards, but by traditional Islamic standards, it's even more striking that only one lawmaker would do so.

Not to mention that Pakistan is, and has been for some time, dancing on a razor's edge away from being taken over by people of like mind with MP Zehri, who would then presumably have access to the country's nuclear arsenal. That's more alarming still.
9.4.2008 9:24pm
MnZ:
How can we criticize Mr. Zehri when so many Americans don't have health insurance?
9.4.2008 9:32pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Here's further evidence of the fact that MP Zehri is far from isolated. Under current Pakistani law, honor killing is nominally illegal but there is an easy way out. In Islamic law, a murderer is pardoned if the family of the victim agree to accept blood money. In the case of an honor killing, the victim's family usually are the killers, so even if the case is prosecuted and the killers are convicted, they will be let off because the family will pay itself blood money.

Several years ago a bill was introduced in Parliament to eliminate this loophole. The bill was defeated
by a majority vote on the grounds that it was "un-Islamic".
9.4.2008 9:34pm
Sarcastro (www):
Whoa. Reading all these comments, seems like this Zehri guy is all the proof we need to bomb the crap out of them A-rabs in Pakistan before they get a nuclear weapon!

I figure all those other MPs being shocked is only Taqila or whatever that lying to infidels stuff is.

But no invasion. Obama said he would do that, so that'd just be playing into the terrorists plans.
9.4.2008 9:37pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

it's striking that even one lawmaker would justify this sort of murder.


I don't think so- for instance, politics being politics, do we know that they didn't make a deal to have one guy speak for it so the rest of them could appear to be against it, more-or-less, masking the true general attitude?

The article cites a female legislator's prior efforts to make such actions punishable, but it seems to not have been made law; also:

"Many stood up in protest, saying the executions were 'barbaric' and demanding that discussions continue Monday. But a handful* said it was an internal matter of the deeply conservative province."

-it is not clear if discussion was continued; and, *what's a handful?.

My gut feeling is that no one is taking the acts particularly seriously... and this is one aspect of what we're up against, that being an attitude of righteousness rooted in the dark ages.
9.4.2008 9:38pm
Calculate Risk:
Would it be politically incorrect to call people who either perform or justify honor killings savages?

Politically incorrect or not, would it not be an accurate label?
9.4.2008 9:40pm
Sarcastro (www):
Bill Poser Wahabiist law is totally like all Islamic law!

I also judge all Christian Americans as though they are the KKK.
9.4.2008 9:42pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

all the proof we need to bomb the crap out of them A-rabs in Pakistan before they get a nuclear weapon


IIRC, they do.
9.4.2008 9:44pm
Sarcastro (www):
Glenn W. Bowen crap! I blame Carter!
9.4.2008 9:46pm
Jerry F:
Why is one lawmaker taking absurd positions astounding? Here in America we have thousands of lawmakers, including five Supreme Court Justices, who defend granting rights to terrorists. And in our case, it is not to defend longstanding traditions, but to destroy longstanding traditions.
9.4.2008 9:48pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Sarcastro,


Bill Poser Wahabiist law is totally like all Islamic law!

I also judge all Christian Americans as though they are the KKK.


No, not all Islamic law is Wahabist, but the provisions I quoted are not specifically Wahabist. More to the point, they are the current law of Pakistan, and it is Pakistan that we are discussing. It wouldn't be fair to say that all Alabamans were racist because some belonged to the KKK, but in the days of Jim Crow it was certainly fair to say that the laws of the State of Alabama were racist.
9.4.2008 9:52pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Sarcastro,

Whoa. Reading all these comments, seems like this Zehri guy is all the proof we need to bomb the crap out of them A-rabs in Pakistan before they get a nuclear weapon!

I figure all those other MPs being shocked is only Taqila or whatever that lying to infidels stuff is.


You'd be more credible if you could get the facts straight.
(a) Pakistanis are not Arabs;
(b) Pakistan already has nuclear weapons;
(c) the Muslim practice of conceiling one's true beliefs is called taqqiya   التقية  , not "Taqila".
9.4.2008 9:56pm
PersonFromPorlock:

General Napier had perhaps the right attitude on multiculturalism. When a Hindu deputation urged him to accept suttee because it was an old Indian custom that widows should burn with their deceased husbands, Napier replied that he acknowledged the custom, but that it was the British custom to hang people who burned women and that if they carried out their custom, he would carry out his. There was a rapid decline in suttee over the next few years.

"Identifying the enemy" by Geoffrey Partington
9.4.2008 10:00pm
Malvolio:
General Napier had perhaps the right attitude on multiculturalism. When a Hindu deputation urged him to accept suttee because it was an old Indian custom that widows should burn with their deceased husbands, Napier replied that he acknowledged the custom, but that it was the British custom to hang people who burned women and that if they carried out their custom, he would carry out his.
I was thinking approximately the same thing: that someone should remind Zehri of the traditional Pakistani technique of resolving political differences.
9.4.2008 10:09pm
theobromophile (www):
Wow, sounds like some men are a little insecure about their marriage prospects on an open market....

Keep in mind that most traditional forms of Islam place very little value on existence in this life vis-a-vis one's existence in the afterlife. This incident may be striking by Western standards, but by traditional Islamic standards, it's even more striking that only one lawmaker would do so.

I know very little about the Islamic tradition. Do they believe that spouses are married to each other in the afterlife? (If so, there is then a very, very good reason for these women to choose their own husbands, eternity being an awfully long time and all.)

The flip side is... if this life doesn't matter, why does it matter if the women are so audacious as to decide whom to marry?

How can chastity be important when one cannot even choose the person to whom one gives herself sexually? At least in the Western tradition, chastity is as much a psychological and spiritual matter as a physical one (using sexuality to build a connection that is unique between those two people, cementing the spirituality of their relationship).

Anyway, sick, sick stuff.
9.4.2008 10:09pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
theobromophile,

I think that societies in which female chastity is of great importance are usually societies in which blood relations in the male line are extremely important, that is, where they determine not only inheritance but who supports whom in disputes. The latter is characteristic of so-called segmented tribal societies, summarized by the slogan "me against my brother, my brothers and I against our cousins, my cousins and I against...". In such a society, if women are not chaste, one cannot be sure of the male lines of descent. The emphasis of Islam on female chastity arguably reflects the fact that Islam arose in a society of precisely this type, and that is the sort of society that prevails in rural Pakistan today.
9.4.2008 10:32pm
frankcross (mail):
Porlock, this happened in India. I would think that General Napier was the representative of multiculturalism in that context.
9.4.2008 10:53pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Keep in mind that most traditional forms of Islam place very little value on existence in this life vis-a-vis one's existence in the afterlife."

True. But we should also keep in mind that most Muslims place a very high value on this existence, regardless of Islamic doctrine. In very general terms, they place about as much importance on Islamic teachings as Christians place on Christian teachings.
9.4.2008 11:22pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
A Pakistani friend of mine says the Balochs have a reputation among other Pakistanis of being gentle.
9.4.2008 11:39pm
tsotha:
This is really about maintaining the tribal power structure. When the elders get to chose who marries whom, and thus the prospects of your children, you're going to think twice before crossing them.
9.4.2008 11:46pm
Randy R. (mail):
tsotha: "This is really about maintaining the tribal power structure. "

Of course, and even more so about keeping women in their place.

So are they 'savages' for doing this? Perhaps, but no more savages than the white men who made the decisions to try to exterminate the American Indians. Or the British savages who acted as drug dealers to the Chinese in the 19th century to get them addicted to opium and destroy their economy.

Labels are easy to throw around, and you can always place a derrogatory label upon someone *else* in order to make yourself feel superior or good about yourself. But be careful, because it just opens the door to a lot of labeling you might not enjoy.
9.5.2008 1:29am
neurodoc:
Bill Poser, tempting though it may be at times, please don't feed the trolls. (And no, I certainly don't count the lady chocolate lover as a troll.)
9.5.2008 1:35am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Neurodoc,

It isn't always easy (for me, at any rate), to identify trolls. After all, the world is full of people who believe strange things. :)
9.5.2008 1:46am
Bizzy:
The Sharia law manual produced by Al-Azhar University, the closest thing Islam has to the Papacy, specifically excludes parents who murder their children from any punishment under the law. Honor killings are neither aberrant nor "Wahabbist", they are core Islamic doctrines. They are not, when Muslims seek to deflect blame for them, "cultural practices that have nothing to do with Islam".
9.5.2008 8:58am
theobromophile (www):
Bill Poser - thank you. Of course, that begs the question of why it matters if you're supporting your (inadvertently) adopted child in a war, whom you love as your own, or your own kid. (I mean, your wife doesn't have a genetic relationship to her husband, but you hope these men would fight for the safety and good of their wives... oh, wait, nevermind.)

neurodoc - you had me worried for a second. :p
9.5.2008 10:16am
PersonFromPorlock:
frankcross:

Porlock, this happened in India. I would think that General Napier was the representative of multiculturalism in that context.

Actually, Napier was the representative of civilized behavior: regarding widow-burners as having a legitmate point of view simply underlines the moral emptiness of multiculturalism.
9.5.2008 10:17am
Happyshooter:
I had a client who was setting up a business partnership over there, and I skimmed the local english newspapers on the net for a while.

Look up eves teasing, and then decide if that is an ally America needs to have.
9.5.2008 10:36am
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
And what are we to do in the US when honor killings take center stage in courtrooms?

'Honor' Killing Comes to the US
9.5.2008 7:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Opher.
Hang the son of a bitch.
Until juror null sets in with Muslim jurors.
How many does it take to hang a jury? One? Two?
Can a prosecutor preemptively strike somebody for being a Muslim and, presumably, lying about his view on honor killing?
Didn't think so.
9.6.2008 11:25am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Richard Aubrey: If you're saying that all or even most American Muslims generally support honor killings, do you have any actual evidence for that assertion?
9.7.2008 4:10am
Bizzy:

If you're saying that all or even most American Muslims generally support honor killings, do you have any actual evidence for that assertion?

A reasonable argument can be made that a majority of American Muslims want to bring Sharia law to the US. Anybody who thinks Sharia law is a good thing by definition supports honor killings.
9.7.2008 4:23am