Cultural relativism and 'honour' killing

Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology has undertaken research that shows that the practice of vigilante justice or 'honour' killing usually against women is regarded by a substantial proportion of the students surveyed as morally acceptable. The report suggests that of the 850 Jordanian students surveyed, attitudes in support of honour killing are far more likely in adolescent boys with low education backgrounds:

"In total, 33.4% of all respondents either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with situations depicting honour killings. Boys were more than twice as likely to support honour killings: 46.1% of boys and 22.1% of girls agreed with at least two honour killing situations in the questionnaire. 61% of teenagers from the lowest level of educational background showed supportive attitudes towards honour killing, as opposed to only 21.1% where at least one family member has a university degree. 41.5% of teenagers with a large number of siblings endorsed at least two honour-killing situations, while this was only the case for 26.7% of teens from smaller families." (supra)

Cultural relativism too often stifles free discussion of human rights abuse where it appears in a non-Western context. Conversely, there is also a tendency among non-Westerners to regard the freedoms of modern industrial nations as co-extensive with the decadence triggered by the relatively recent boom in the Kinsey-inspired pornography industry. But the foundation of Western values should not be conflated with these excesses if for no other reason than that they are a relatively novel accretion. And the freedom, safety and security afforded women in the West is a great social good worth protecting. Cultural relativism is conceptually incapable of telling us what is wrong with these and other enormities. I reproduce here the faces of some young women who have suffered and died at the hands of abusers who invariably refer back to their own cultures to rationalise their behaviour. In many cases, the perpetrators would have thought themselves morally and religiously justified. Indeed, where death is seen as an appropriate, traditionally and scripturally sanctioned punishment for apostasy, a homicidal reaction is not merely explicable but righteous. For them, the appropriate penalty for a change of religious ways or, worse still, apostasy is precisely death. This may go some way to explaining the remarkable figures surrounding 'honour' killing. See Phyllis Chesler, (2010) "Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings", Middle East Quarterly (17) pp. 3-11. If Chesler's figures are correct they deserve serious attention. She argues that 91 per cent of honour killing worldwide, 84 per cent in North America, and 96 per cent in Europe is Islamic in character.

There are fundamental differences between cultures and religions. For example, Christ's admonition in John 8:7 and the Christian insistence on monogamy as distinct from polygamy highlight important differences between the religions. Minimising these in the interests of ecumenism or "all faiths together" initiatives is bound to undermine the interests of women. Equally, for the safety and security of women and children, the pornography industry needs to be neutered. In this the West clearly needs robust assistance.

This collection of pictures and the associated captions are to be found at Pamela Geller's site (Atlas Shrugs). Although presenting only a tiny fraction of the problem as it appears worldwide, the collection is a useful reminder of what the practice means for the victims. Possibly for reasons of diplomacy and international trade, there is no systematic reporting or central database of these abuses notwithstanding the manifest public interest. 




Afshan Azad, badly beaten by her father Abdul Azad, and his son Ashraf attempted honour killing earlier this month because of her relationship with a Hindu man.

Noor almal 

November 2, 'o9: Noor Almaleki    Run over by Muslim father for being too "Westernized."



Police in Kingston, Ontario, charged three Montrealers, Mohammed Shafia, his wife Tooba and their 18-year-old son Hamed with a shocking crime. The trio are accused of mass murder, the killing of three of the couple's teenage daughters, including their eldest child, Zainab, 19, (above left, in a photo taken in 2007 in the United Arab Emirates with her friend Zubaida Siddique) and Rona Amir Mohammed, aged 50. 

Honour killings on the rise in the West:

Tulay Goren 

Tulay Goren: Schoolgirl 'was tortured by her father' before she was murdered in Muslim honour killing


 The murder of Önder B. und Müjde




 "Canada" Honour Killings of Four Muslim Girls in Canada



Feroz Mangal and Khatera Sadiqi were shot  by Khatera's brother as they sat in a parked car at the Elmvale Acres shopping plaza .

Sisters yasmine<br />
honor killing 

Sisters: Yasmine (right) and Sabrina Larbi-Cherif were allegedly killed by Yasmine's boyfriend Mohammed Ali



Ayman Udas

Ayman Udas Poet and Artist 





UK: Muslim Husband Convicted of Murdering His Abused Wife....... Sabina Akhtar


Aasiya Hassan, decapitated by husband



Sahar Daftary UK

Lidia motylask 

Lidia Motylska, 19,  Leeds



Amina and Sarahthe Said sisters  - raped and murdered by their Muslim father - still at large.


Amina & Sarah Said. "Please don't tell my Father!"

Sandeela kanwal 

Sandeela Kanwal, 25, was found dead on her bedroom floor last July. Her father told police he strangled his daughter with a bungee cord because she wanted a divorce.

Morsal o2 

Morsal Obeidi (stabbed to death 23 times by her brother - for "turning away from her family").


Hatin Surucu Germany Muslim brothers gunned her down for adopting Western ways.

Banaz Mahmood UK


Aqsa Parvez Canada -- lies in an unmarked grave


Caneze Riaz, 39, and her four daughters, Sayrah, 16, Sophia, 15, Alicia, 10, and Hannah, 3 UK (Muhammad Riaz killed his wife and four daughters by throwing petrol over themas they slept and igniting it.)




Uzma Rahan, 32,and sons, Adam 11, and Abbas, eight, and six-year-old daughter, Henna


10 women beheaded in Iraq


Samaira Nazir UK


Hina Salem Italy ("Mohammed Saleem cut his daughter’s throat because she refused an  arranged marriage and instead wanted to integrate into Italian society".)


Methal Dayem, a 22-year-old Cleveland State student, USA.


Sazan Bajez-Abdullah Germany


Rudayena Jemael with her son and killer Salim Israel.


Hesha Yones UK (hacked to death)


Burned Alive  A Victim of the Law of Men Souad


Ibtihaz Hasoun Israeli Arab


Fadime Sahindal Sweden


Zahida Peeveen at 29, before the malicious attack by her husband. At the time of the attempted honour killing, she was six months pregnant. After attack: WARNING GRAPHIC


Ghazala Khan Denmark


The killing of Ghazala Khan in Denmark by her brother may be the only instance where an 'honour' killing has been photographed while being perpetrated. This  picture was captured on cell phone camera and shows the woman's brother aiming the gun at his sister, lying on the ground. Her fiancee, also seen, was wounded, but survived. The killing was planned by her entire family, and Pakistani taxi drivers were used as spies to spot her and alert her family.


As a 13-year-old girl in Turkey, Rojda was raped, then forced to marry her
rapist under Islamic law. Her face was mutilated by her "husband's" family
when she refused to prostitute herself after he was imprisoned for raping
another child.


Dua Khalil, 17 Iraq


Rim Abu Ghanem 19 (Dr. Suliman Abu Ghanem, a 33-year-old pediatrician at Assaf Harofeh Hospital, who along with his three brothers decided to murder his sister for refusing an arranged marriage) Israel

1/3 of the women murdered in Jordan are a result of Islamic "honour" killing. And yet I could not find one picture of a murdered girl in Jordan.

"It was a brutal scene. One victim's head was nearly cut clean off," an official is quoted as saying. (here)

And the thing is, this is the end - the final act, the culmination of the subjugation, oppression, violent abuse of women in Islam. The terror that precedes the murder is almost unimaginable. Living in fear, every day, living in fear of physical and mental abuse and still, standing up and living their own lives -- only to be murdered for it.



Sabia Rani 19  UK (not only did four members of her husband's family do nothing to help her, they turned a blind eye as he continued the beatings and ultimately murdered the helpless young woman at the house they all shared).


Shafilea Ahmed UK more here

Teenager 'honour killing' girl made dramatic plea for help before she died

Ramla: Woman killed in front of her children

Israel: Ramla: 18-year-old shot dead

Australia Virgin Murdered in "Honour" Killing

Israel: Clever Enough to Play Dead

Randa Abdel Qader: Stomped, Suffocated, Stabbed, Dad walks free




Sharia against women: