Top Menu

Breaking: Husband Charged with Killing of Shaima Alawadi

Alawadi Funeral

Kassim Alhimidi wept over the body of his wife, Shaima Alawadi, at a prayer ceremony following her death last spring.

Last March, Shaima Alawadi was murdered in what initially appeared to be a hate crime. The 32 year-old Iraqi Muslim woman was severely beaten, and a note found near her body read, “Go back to your own country. You’re a terrorist.” The subsequent police investigation cast doubt on the story, revealing turmoil in the family, prompting anti-Muslim bigots to immediately declare the murder an “honor killing.”

The details surrounding the case are still murky, but police records show Shaima Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, 48, has been arrested and charged with one count of first degree murder. From U-T San Diego:

El Cajon police are expected this afternoon to announce an update in the investigation of the beating death of an Iraqi woman who was attacked in her home eight months ago.

Jail records show the woman’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, 48, was booked into jail Thursday evening by El Cajon police on one count of first degree murder. He is being held without bail.

Police have scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m.

Alhimidi’s wife, Shaima Alawadi, 32, was found unconscious in the family’s Skyview Street home March 21. She was struck on the head at least six times and suffered four skull fractures, according to court records. She died in a hospital three days later.

The attack occurred about 11 a.m., after the husband had reportedly left to take four of the younger children to school. The couple’s 17-year-old daughter told police she was in her bedroom at the time of the attack. She found her mother on the floor and called 911.

The family said a note was found near Alawadi’s body, telling the family to go back where they came from. The family said a similar note had been left on their door weeks earlier, but they did not report the note or keep it.

Police said at the time they were investigating the possibility of a hate crime, but also said they “strongly believe” the attack was an isolated incident.

Alawadi apparently had been planning to divorce her husband and move with her children to Texas, where her relatives live, her brother told U-T San Diego.

If Mr. Alhimidi is found guilty, the loons will no doubt exploit this tragedy to further demonize Muslims, whether or not the murder really fits the profile of a so-called “honor killing,” or is simply a case of domestic violence.

Related Stories:

Shaima Alawadi: Iraqi Muslim Woman Severely Beaten, Note Near Her Body Read, “Go back to your own country. You’re a terrorist.”

Shaima AlAwadi’s Murder Less Likely to Be a Hate Crime

Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t

, , , , , ,

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon:

    I won’t really respond to your post other than to say that I find it entirely unconvincing except for the part where you admit that I corrected your statement on statistics.

  • Chameleon

    @JSB,

    You quote me as saying, “academics have concluded is statistically insignificant in comparison to regional explanatory variables alone”, and then you launch into an argument about how this is technically wrong. Oh, please. Didn’t we deal with this already? You even corrected me, and I thought it was clear that I agreed, since before this quote of mine and after I have consistently qualified this with “after controlling for the effects of region” or something to that effect. In other words, the religious association is small after removing the variation definitively explained by regional variables. I say definitively because the root cause of those regional variables can be traced definitively to local cultural practices of honor killings that predate at least Islam, and perhaps Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity and other regional religions too, all of which have adherents that practice honor killings in contravention of their religions.

    This is what makes your previous post so laughable too as yet another example of association fallacy idiocy by insisting that the large concentration of honor killings with an apparent regional epicenter near the southern India-Pakistan border could be attributable in commensurate proportion to religion. It simply cannot. It’s clearly a regional cluster, as both the world data and the Sindh vs. other Pakistani provinces data show at a very high level of statistical significance. And the root cause of that regional cluster is historically and definitively traceable to something other than Islam!

    You say, “There is a reason you looked for analyses that examined religion after controlling for region: it is the right analysis. You could not find them.”

    I did. The Sindh data is extremely compelling, since, as I stated, it can be viewed as looking at the dependent variable of honor killings while controlling for religion (i.e., within Pakistan, given the steep drop off of in honor killings outside of the Sindh epicenter while Muslim-dominated demographics remain unchanged) AND while controlling for region (i.e., across India + Pakistan, when combining this data with the world data on India honor killings). Moreover, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do a little per capita math (overall and by religious affiliation using census data from other sources) on the estimated honor killings by country cited in UN and other reports to determine that the statistical significance by region is extremely high and that religion must have a very low association with honor killings after controlling for this regional effect. If you are too lazy to do the math, then that is not my problem. I am not going to continue looking for a study that does it for you.

    You say, “It is you who is conceding my point that a religion can cause an unintended effect when you say that there could be another potential association.”

    You still don’t see your own idiotic logic, do you? Correlation does not imply causation. Just because there is a “potential association” — not even a demonstrated one! — does not imply a root cause. And it certainly doesn’t imply I am conceding that it could be a root cause. To allege cause without evidence is simply reckless. Heck, let’s just be even more reckless with association fallacies by alleging that proximity to monsoons could be the cause of honor killings. I also heard alien and Elvis sightings were significantly higher in that region, so those could be the “cause” too.

    Garibaldi said the question regarding the psychology of deviant human behavior is “interesting” with respect to honor killings. I agree with him too, but deviant human behavior is irrelevant to assigning guilt or blame to Islam as the root cause. I am interested in sociology discussions too, but not here, not now. My focus is on bigoted claims and insinuations against Islam, not sociology.

    You say, “This is the question I have been addressing: whether Islam (or any religion) can deal softly with a crime. ”

    Then why didn’t you answer even this question? First explain how Islam can be personified to “deal softly” with honor killing. Then explain how the death penalty equates to “dealing softly” in your logic. I do agree that it is time for you to be quiet now. You are seriously embarrassing yourself.

    You say, “I have seen no good evidence to suggest that Islam increases the rate of honor killing.”

    Yes, indeed, we are done.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Ilisha:

    That’s really interesting. It implies that even if the path that Sarah suggested (weak enforcement) is true, one would have to separate out whether the weak enforcement is due to sharia or derived from the Napoleonic Code. I think that strengthens my belief that any actual analysis would be very complicated.

    For example, had I been analyzing the data, I would have mistakenly just coded Jordan and Syria as “Muslim” for legal system origin rather than “mixed Napoleonic/Muslim.” So, what you say would make me suspicious of any empirical analyses that claimed to show a higher incidence of honor killing in “Muslim geographies” because of the potential for this type of error. Once again, you cause me to change my views a bit! Thanks.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon:

    I think this will be my final post.

    The original point from Sarah Brown was: “I’ll note one line of argument which may come up – that Islam may forbid a practice, such as honour killing, yet also possess certain characteristics which may make it more likely that authority figures will deal rather softly with that crime – for example a more marked anxiety about female modesty.”

    Garibaldi’s response was: “I actually find the question regarding how notions of Islamic modesty may affect the way authority figures react to so-called honor killings interesting, it sounds reasonable since at least it acknowledges that honor killings are not sanctioned by Islam which many Islamophobes like to claim.”

    This is the question I have been addressing: whether Islam (or any religion) can deal softly with a crime. I did extend it a bit to say that by dealing softly with the crime, it may not be prevented as much as otherwise. But note that the original formulation had nothing to do with the “root cause” of the crime.

    Your question may be interesting, but it was not the original question proposed. I think that your concern about moving goalposts away from root causes of honor killing was simply my actually addressing the original question or something much closer to it.

    And with that, I hope we are done.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon:

    I think we have reached a dead end. Your question is not my question. You apparently want me to say something Islamophobic like Islam is to blame for honor killings. You are concerned with assigning blame and I don’t care about it as I am only interested in causation.

    “With respect to your second straw man argument, I never made the absurd claim that controlling for region removes all other potential associations to explain 100% of the variation. Can you say moving the goalposts or what? I merely asserted that other associations would be demonstrably quite small in comparison, as is already obvious from the data.” No. You said, “academics have concluded is statistically insignificant in comparison to regional explanatory variables alone.” Statistically insignificant does not mean small; that is practical insignificance. Statistical insignificance means that the result is not distinguishable from random variation (i.e., the result is of a magnitude that we see with at least a certain degree of frequency even when the alleged causal factor is not present), not small. In any case, it is you who is conceding my point that a religion can cause an unintended effect when you say that there could be another potential association. That is my question: can a religion have a potential causal effect on something in the direction that the religion does not actually favor? I say that theoretically the answer is yes, particularly when there is a reasonable logical path outlined.

    Let me try an analogy. Income varies greatly by location, whether internationally or in a country like the US. It would be wrong to say that therefore education does not affect income or that women are paid the same as men because there exist regional disparities in income. Saying that education is to blame for income disparities sound like an overstatement, but saying that it affects income could easily be true. Essentially, that is what you are doing: saying that there is regional variation in honor killing, so therefore nothing else is “to blame” for differences in honor killing, including religion. If you are trying to say what is the primary cause, that may be true, but if you want answer my question of whether religion does matter, your theory and data are not on point.

    There is a reason you looked for analyses that examined religion after controlling for region: it is the right analysis. You could not find them. I could be like you and make terrible insinuations that you were caught flat-footed, arguing that there exist such studies that you now conveniently cannot find. (In fact, it’s an awful debating technique to claim the existence of studies without checking that you can actually cite to them if called upon!) Instead, I believe you when you say that you just cannot find them now. But, I would want to see them before accepting that they do say what you claim they do.

    Unless you have those studies, I think we are done. Let me try to put us on the same footing: we both think that honor killing varies by region but that other factors may also have an influence. I think that a religion could either increase or decrease the rate of honor killings, the former for reasons that Sarah Brown mentioned the latter because religions tend to condemn murder. I have seen no good evidence to suggest that Islam increases the rate of honor killing. You say there is evidence that actually suggests that the effect is not statistically significant, but have not yet found it, so hopefully you will.

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion, and I hope you do find those studies you were looking for. Otherwise, feel free to continue, but I don’t think that we are moving anywhere and I have better things to do than try to answer your question when I have been focusing on answering mine.

  • Chameleon

    @JSB,

    You still have not answered the question: Could Islam be in any way to blame for honor killings? This is what reckless guilt by association is all about — remember, the original logical fallacy that you were baldly objecting to and have still yet to rebut? Blame is not a moral question. It is a question of root cause implying guilt, NOT of irrelevant association implying guilt. Everything other claim and line of argument is moot.

    You say, “My very brief view of what you wrote is that there is a regional component to honor killings, which I doubt anyone denies. The question is whether controlling for that leaves anything still explained by religion.”

    Thank you for conceding my point yet again, in this case that the regional component is so significant that it is undeniable. With respect to your second straw man argument, I never made the absurd claim that controlling for region removes all other potential associations to explain 100% of the variation. Can you say moving the goalposts or what? I merely asserted that other associations would be demonstrably quite small in comparison, as is already obvious from the data.

    Moreover, association was never the issue, since it is irrelevant to demonstrating root cause and blame. By continually focusing on it, you are accomplishing nothing but insisting on an embarrassing argument based on a reckless guilt by association fallacy.

  • Chameleon

    @Michael,

    You say, “I doubt he could be suckered into a debate. Islamophobes may be ignorant, but they’re not stupid. They live in a fact-free world. A world where they think they can use naskh and taqiyya to explain away all the facts.”

    I am not expecting Kunwar to engage either. However, I have still accomplished my objective of publicly stripping him of his monopoly over legitimacy and truth in the eyes of everyone who sees him not engaging with someone issuing a brash challenge that should seem so easy for him to crush. So whether he engages me or not, his valuable street credibility still takes a hit.

    I have been through all of the other experiences and logical gymnastics that you describe. What I have learned is that the only way to deal with such willful ignorance is to ridicule and insult it while barreling forward with a relentless focus on facts and logic. That is exactly the way willful ignorance deserves to be treated, and it is the only possible way you can force such individuals to respond (if at all).

    Moreover, even if they do respond, you can’t engage such individuals if you are only making compelling cerebral arguments. You have to engage them within their primitive brains first, since that is where they live and breathe when they are reading your words and replying with predictable irrationality. Once their ego forces them out of their rabidly Islamophobic fox hole, you can drag them back into the more cerebral world of objective reality to finish them off on your turf, preferably for the whole world to see.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon:

    “But you are still not stating any claim with respect to honor killings to answer the follow critical question: Could Islam be in any way to blame for honor killings?” You responded to me first. This is your way of phrasing the “critical question,” not mine. “Blame” implies a moral issue, whereas I am concerning myself only with facts. If the question is “Could Islam be in any way a cause of some nontrivial number of honor killings,” my response is the same as for a similar question for any religion or philosophy with a “reasonable” theoretical link to an action it actually opposes: it is possible in theory. If you want to treat “a cause” as “blame” then that is your choice, but I prefer to talk about causation and not morality here.

    I’ll have to take some time to look through your links, but thanks for including them.

    My very brief view of what you wrote is that there is a regional component to honor killings, which I doubt anyone denies. The question is whether controlling for that leaves anything still explained by religion. Per my example to Ilisha, you may have more fires in regions with forests than oceans, but that does not mean that lightning does not cause fires. Of course, a religion could be like lightning or it could be like light from the moon in that example, either causing fires or not doing so. The fact that there are regional differences in fire prevalence does not mean that some other factor cannot also matter.

    You say, “I could not find what I found before on the per capita regional differences worldwide to show the very insignificant association between Islam and honor killings after controlling for region.” Please do try, because otherwise your linked articles may be useless. Showing a difference in regions only argues that location (and what goes with location such as culture or law) matters. Unless location explains 100% of the variation, it most certainly does not rule out other causes. You seem to have some knowledge of statistics, so I am sure you recognize that showing that Y is related to (i.e., changes with changes in) X does not mean that Y is not related to Z.

    One question. You say, “However, the fact that Pakistan and India have such a large proportion of the world total in such a relatively small region makes the statistical significance quite clear by implication, especially given the fact that there are such a massive number of Hindu and Sikh honor killings in this region too.” You do realize that if anything you are arguing that Islam and Hinduism are more likely to be associated with honor killings? If those two countries dominated by those two religions have a large total of honor killings but are a small region (though actually quite large in combined population), that would make honor killings overrepresented there. Are you sure that is what you meant to say?

  • Chameleon

    @JSB,

    You say, “I have stated my claim clearly but you seem to ignore or not understand it. (Again: all religions might, in certain times or places, inadvertently cause behaviors they actually condemn.)”

    But you are still not stating any claim with respect to honor killings to answer the follow critical question: Could Islam be in any way to blame for honor killings? Without making a claim beyond ignorance on this issue, you are not making any claim that has any relevance to the key point under discussion. We are not talking about other behaviors that are merely “condemned”. We are talking about honor killings, and the penalty for this behavior is death. Unless you want to make the argument that Islam is to blame because it failed to impose a stiffer penalty than death, then your logic is seriously flawed, to say the least.

    What is interesting, by the way, is that there are an estimated 1,000 cases of honor killings per year each in both India and Pakistan, which together make up 40% of the estimated 5,000 worldwide cases per year. So if this is not a staggeringly significant regional concentration, then I don’t know what is. What is even more interesting is that Pakistan does not enforce the Islamic penalty for honor killing, which, again, is death. In fact, the entire legal system and culture still facilitates honor killings, per this link qualitatively analyzing the problem in Pakistan (it is just a master’s thesis, but the sources and arguments are generally in line with more reputable sources I have read):

    http://dspace.mah.se:8080/bitstream/handle/2043/10419/Honour%20Killings%20In%20Pakistan%20Under%20Theoretical,%20Legal%20and%20Religious%20Perspectives.pdf?sequence=1

    And below is another blurb of a link that sheds some minor light on the regional disparities and root causes of honor killings, which are fundamentally motivated to ensure the “survival of tribal and patriarchal values” for the sake of” family honor” — values which are completely contrary to core Islamic values emphasizing purely individual accountability for one’s own actions. This source also briefly notes how incidents of honor killings are dramatically higher in first generation Muslim immigrants vs. later generations of those immigrants, which again supports the regional influence explanation. This fact also argues strongly against the root cause connection to Islam, since honor killings decline as the cultural connection to tribal values and collective accountability fades with time, while family loyalty to Islam would generally remain the same. Such immigration effects are essentially an empirical microcosm of social change, where one variable is removed over time (tribal values of “family honor”) while the control variable (religion) remains the same.

    http://honour-killings.com/regions/

    So in all the “whodunnit” finger pointing regarding honor killings, could one still argue with a straight face that “Islamdunnit”? Or would it be more reasonable to argue that deviant human beings were responsible, not Islam, and that they committed such crimes in great numbers in significant part because of this lack of accountability and culture of impunity? Would it not be more accurate to conclude that honor killings happen not because of Islam, but because Islamic law had been totally rejected as the solution to mitigate this cultural and regional phenomenon that demonstrably traces its roots to pre-Islamic times? With respect to honor killings, therefore, Pakistan would ironically be considered totally un-Islamic in its legal system and judicial response to it, whereas somewhere like Texas would actually be considered very Islamic.

    I could not find what I found before on the per capita regional differences worldwide to show the very insignificant association between Islam and honor killings after controlling for region. However, the fact that Pakistan and India have such a large proportion of the world total in such a relatively small region makes the statistical significance quite clear by implication, especially given the fact that there are such a massive number of Hindu and Sikh honor killings in this region too. This is fully supported by the LW article, which highlights the non-Islamic honor killings, along with femicides that are suspected of being honor killing (700 in Guatemala, 1,110 in Honduras, 1,926 in Mexico, etc., which are all countries with only a small minority of Muslims):

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/09/honor-killings-the-epidemic-that-isnt/

    I did, however, fortunately find the link on another statistically significant regional difference: Sindh province vs. the other provinces in Pakistan. As you know, Sindh province is directly adjacent to some of the largest population centers in India, where honor killings are quite high and completely unrelated to Islam. It is therefore no surprise that Sindh has a significantly higher proportion of honor killings per capita than the other provinces. Here is a summary of their analysis on this issue:

    “The rates of HK [honor killing] in females (age 15–64 years) for years of 2004–07 in three provinces were found to be 9.4, 5.3, 7.9 and 7.7 per million, respectively. On the other hand, the rates of HK in specific to Sindh province (Karo Kari) in females for same age group were calculated to be 24.6, 9.7, 27.5 and 28.0 per million.”

    This difference is quite profound, and it is clearly not due to any argument that Sindh has a higher proportion of Muslims than the other Pakistani provinces immediately adjacent to it. Given the immediate adjacency of all these regions, one could conclude that honor killings cut across all religious groups almost indiscriminately, controlling for region (India + Pakistan); or that they are highly associated with region (Sindh vs. adjacent Pakistani provinces), controlling for religion. Here is the link to the article, and then another specific link from the same article to a larger graph of this regional difference in per capita honor killings by province:

    http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/2/193.full

    http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/2/193/F2.expansion.html

  • Michael Elwood

    @Chameleon

    I doubt he could be suckered into a debate. Islamophobes may be ignorant, but they’re not stupid. They live in a fact-free world. A world where they think they can use naskh and taqiyya to explain away all the facts. For example, they say the Quran promotes violence. When you show them countless verses that promote peace, they claim that they have all been conveniently “abrogated”. They claim Muslims don’t speak out against violence done in the name of their religion. When you show them countless examples, they say that they are all engaged in religious dissimulation.

    Just look at the amusing claims of Free World (Bill Warner?) and Graham and compare them to Kunwar’s:

    http://my.telegraph.co.uk/kkshahid/kkshahid/15/dont-blame-the-taliban-ii/

    http://my.telegraph.co.uk/kkshahid/kkshahid/30/dont-blame-the-taliban-iii/

    Graham claims the Quran advocates capital punishment for blasphemy. Notice the self-serving war he makes the claim:

    “There are plenty of verses in Quran which are interpreted by modern Islamic authorities and have been historically interpreted as blasphemy laws.”

    “I don’t want to get into a theological discussion about how Quranic verses should be interpreted. I am only interested in how they actually are being interpreted.”

    Notice he didn’t say that the Quran SAYS to kill those who blaspheme, but that that is how it is INTERPRETED. The Quran actually SAYS the exact opposite of what some INTERPRET it to mean (to just ignore rather than kill blasphemers):

    6:68 If you see those who mock our revelations, you shall avoid them until they delve into another subject. If the devil causes you to forget, then, as soon as you remember, do not sit with such evil people.

    Knowing he can’t prove his claim from the primary source (the Quran), he tries to yoke Muslims to secondary sources (hadiths):

    “Quran is not the only source of Islam. Hadith and Sirat are juts as important.
    Without Hadith there could be not Islam.
    Quran does not say to pray 5 times per day, Hadith does.
    Quran does not say to go on Hajj to Mecca, Hadith does.
    Quran does not say to fast and how to fast during Ramadan, Hadith does.

    “Without the above rules, there is no Islam. Hadith is just as necessary as Quran.”

    Contrary to what he claims, ALL the practices of Islam predate not hadiths, but the Quran too:

    “Ignorant of the fact that Abraham observed the contact prayers (21:73), many contemporary muslims challenge God by asking where we can find the number of units in each contact prayer. Ignorant of the fact that God claimed Quran to be complete (6:11-116), they do not ‘see’ that ALL religious practices of Submission/Monotheism were established and practiced before the Quranic revelation (8:35; 9:54; 16:123; 21:73; 22:27; 28:27). Messengers after Abraham practiced Sala prayers, obligatory charity, and fasting (2:43;3:43; 11:87;19:31,59;20:14; 28:27; 31:17).”

    http://19.org/898/sala/

    If Islam can’t be practiced without hadiths, how did Muslims function for centuries before their compilation? And how did countless Muslims function without them for centuries after their compilation?

    Meanwhile, Graham says:

    “Maybe Loonwatch could take on Saudi Arabia’s or Iran’s “kill the gays” bill? Or the fact that almsot invariably whenever a Muslim cleric speaks on the issue of homosexuality their position is always to condemn, and usually to affirm the death penalty, even clerics in the west? Maybe to actually finally admit that Islam really is unjust to gays, and is by and large more extreme in this respect than other ideologies?”

    Invariably, eh? I guess he never heard of Imam Muhsin Hendrick or Imam Daayiee Abdullah. Like I said, fact-free world. Unfortunately, the goodwill shown by some in the Muslim community has not been reciprocated. For example, Keith Ellison has stood against discrimination against gays, but Pim Fortuyn had stood for discrimination against Muslims:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Ellison#Civil_rights

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pim_Fortuyn#Views_on_Islam_and_immigration

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon: I have stated my claim clearly but you seem to ignore or not understand it. (Again: all religions might, in certain times or places, inadvertently cause behaviors they actually condemn.) I don’t think it’s worth pursuing the theoretical points since we obviously don’t agree with each other. Stalemate. (And I am not just being stubborn. Garibaldi, Ilisha, and Solid Snake all made useful comments that helped me tweak my views a touch as to the likelihood of an inadvertent outcome in this particular instance, so I am not averse to responding to well-constructed arguments.)

    You have several times referred to statistical evidence. Please, provide a link. I genuinely want to see that evidence because it may influence my views, so I would like to take you up on your offer to find something from what you have previously read. However, I am not alleging that Muslims are particularly susceptible to bad behavior, as you suggest would be the reason for looking at the evidence. I believe that all groups may be more susceptible to some behaviors and less to others, and I am agnostic on any particular “reasonable” (Garibaldi’s word) claim without seeing the evidence or at least a summary of it.

  • Sarah Brown

    Yes, of course, but then you are just supporting my argument that deviant human beings are responsible, not Islam.

    Er – yes. That’s nice isn’t it?

    @Ilisha – good point about FGM.

  • Chameleon

    @JSB,

    As I said, the only relevant question is whether Islam could be in any way to blame for honor killing. The rest are moot claims. If you don’t have the gumption to answer this question and state your claim, then this debate is clearly over, since your arguments are in support of no claim that is even relevant. If, instead, you are now claiming that you have no knowledge of the appropriate answer, then that also means the debate is over, since there is no point debating a claim of ignorance.

    With respect to my Texas analogy, you are again arguing in support of my claim that Islam is not to blame. I chose this extension of my analogy for the exact reason you bring up now. One could indeed make a logical association between free speech and increased murder, but do you hear any widespread clamor or fear-mongering to allow society to ban TV, to ban the internet or to ban other media so that we can reduce the murder rate, as if society considers these cornerstones of free speech genuinely blameworthy for such murders as the root cause? The answer is no, of course not. Now why should we then blame stipulations on modesty — another nearly universal value with similar variations in degree — as a root cause of murders? My analogy therefore emphasizes the profound absurdity even more because, unlike the logical association between free speech and crime that some researchers have argued, there is no similar association between those who stipulate modesty and those who commit honor killings after controlling for regional variables. If you claim such research exists, then please produce it. And even if you do produce it, it would still be nothing more than an association fallacy, since there is no logical room to identify Islam as the root cause to blame. There would only be an association.

    If you want more research on the issue of association, Ilisha can point you to the various articles she alluded to above. As she stated, they support the same predominantly regional explanation conclusion I am referencing, and in all cases they clearly trace the historical origins of honor killings to pre-Islamic sources, NOT to the advent of Islam. I have read those LW articles, but I don’t have access to the URLs at my fingertips, so perhaps Ilisha can help. I have also read summaries by a couple of respected academics on the association findings, but I have not seen the actual regression data, which is not particularly important to me unless there is a reason not to trust those respected academics. I also don’t have those URLs at my fingertips, and I don’t really have a desire to do the research again. However, if you are going to allege that there are no such strong regional explanations or that Muslims are uniquely susceptible to this criminal behavior vs. individuals of other faiths in the highly affected regions (Western Asia, North Africa and parts of South Asia), then I will at least make an effort to find something from what I previously read.

  • Chameleon

    @Michael,

    I replied to Kunwar as well. As you can see, I chose a slightly different tactic. My primary objective is to light a fire under his ass first. If I can’t force him to engage, then everyone who reads this article will at least bear witness to him cowering in the face of a brash, but seemingly “trivial”, challenge.

    When someone insults my faith based on logical fallacies and nonexistent (or fraudulent) facts, then I reserve the full right to respond by insulting that person’s idiotic commitment to those fallacies and nonexistent facts. If someone wants to call it “rude” to ridicule demonstrable bigotry and lies, then count me among the proudly guilty for that offense, because I am not going to stop.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon: I think that there is little point in debating this theory with you, as you seem to be on a different wavelength than I am (and that I think others are on as well). I find your theoretical points entirely misguided, and I imagine you think the same of mine. Stalemate.

    Though I say that, let me have one try to harmonize our positions. I would in fact say that Texas laws that increased internet access could have caused an increase in crimes such as rape. That is different than saying that Texas intended that or that those laws are incorrect or that the legislature is blameworthy for passing the laws. If the passage of the laws increased the incidence of rape, they helped cause some rapes, even if that was not what was intended. It is in that same sense that I leave open the possibility that a religion’s belief system could cause an increase in some activity that the religion actually views as immoral.

    Also, you say in regard to honor killing that “academics have concluded is statistically insignificant in comparison to regional explanatory variables alone.” Putting aside that something is either statistically significant or not based on its own test statistic (and not based on a comparison to other test statistics, though perhaps you meant to say “once one controls for”), I would be interested to see such studies. I asked above for a link, but perhaps you missed that. Please do provide a link and I would be very interested in seeing what the academics say, because that could at least answer the empirical question.

  • Chameleon

    @JSB,

    You say, “The Texas legislature only mandates the first, not the second. People in both situations violate the mandate against killing, in one case based on incorrectly interpreting a religion in the other because of their own views. Your example is not applicable.”

    Thank you for just conceding my point. When someone “incorrectly interprets a religion”, that is based on their own views, not religious doctrine, which means the religion is not to blame as a root cause. Moreover, since we are turning this into a reductio ad absurdum exercise, one could easily insert another parallel fact that Texas does have laws mandating access to the internet, buying TVs, etc., which have been associated with increased rape, murder, declines in family values etc. So are you going to blame the Texas legislature for murder of rape victims (in spite of their death penalty against such murders) because they indirectly “caused” those murders as a result of laws on their books mandating access to free speech? My analogy holds exactly, in spite of your claims to the contrary.

    By contrast, your analogy on celibacy does not hold. Celibacy is a value adhered to by a tiny fraction of the population and completely rejected by the vast majority of humanity as being incompatible with basic human needs. Moreover, the logical connection to an alternative easy outlet to those human needs is direct and clear. Modesty, on the other hand, is a universal value practiced to some extent by just about everyone, and the logical connection to murder is laughably contrived. The better argument is that blaming stipulations on modesty for murder is analogous to blaming stipulations on free speech for murder, as I just did above by extending my analogy. Both logical connections are patently absurd.

    Please also read my comments to Sarah, since those apply to you as well. You essentially make the same argument as her.

    @Sarah Brown,

    You state, “Would it be more congenial to put it this way – that Islam happened to take root in cultures which had particular views of honour and that this in turn meant that certain indications in Islam, possible ambiguities, were likely to be interpreted in an honour-friendly way (because there certainly are people who say that the hijab is mandatory for example, even if they don’t say you should be killed for not wearing it of course) – and that this covers a range of things, from saying women should cover up a lot to being a bit soft on honour violence?”

    Yes, of course, but then you are just supporting my argument that deviant human beings are responsible, not Islam. I also agree with Ilisha (and Garibaldi, who argues similarly) that we cannot “conclude Islam could never play any role in honor killing.” I never made this argument. Any variable can insert itself into the chain of logic or — more appropriately, in the case of honor killing — into the chain of false justification after the fact. But that does not make it a root cause. To assert that it is a root cause and Islam is to blame is nothing more than a reckless association fallacy, contrary to JSB’s bald assertions to the contrary. It is not logically rational to squeeze any guilt by association to Islam for an action that is punishable by death in Islam.

    At the end of the day, there is really only one question that is relevant in all of this discussion: Are you claiming that Islam is in any way guilty of being responsible for honor killing? If you answer no, then the debate is done, and the rest is just an academic study on deviant human behavior unrelated to Islam, which is a complete waste of my time here. If you answer yes, then you have just seriously embarrassed yourself by not only arguing a reckless association fallacy, but by basing that argument on a nonexistent association that academics have concluded is statistically insignificant in comparison to regional explanatory variables alone.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Ilisha: “If the practices did not exist or were quite limited up until the rise of Islam, and wherever [or in many/most places –JSB] Islam took root, the practices became widespread, especially if we didn’t see the same in non-Muslim regions, then the case for a direct relationship between Islam and honor killing/FGM would be much stronger.”

    Excellent point.

    I also agree with the rest of your post, but this one jumped out at me.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Solid Snake says, “a combination of complicity of a corrupt local authority figure, cultural practices, intentional misinterpretation of Islamic values ( usually meant to persuade the people, the murderer most likely does not believe his own excuses), a general lack of education, and poverty all contribute to the sad phenomena of ‘honor killing’.”

    I think that is a pretty good summary.

    Sarah’s claim, as I understand it, is close in that it might replace “intentional misinterpretation of Islamic values” with a “misunderstanding of Islamic values” or at least a misunderstanding as exhibited by a willingness to pick the “lesser” value of promoting modesty over the greater one of forbidding killing. Her claim, I believe, is that without the emphasis on modesty, there would be a lesser ability to “persuade the people” or to persuade oneself, and therefore there might be fewer honor killings.

    I find this theoretically possible, but I could also argue that Islam’s ban on murder reduces all forms of murder by its adherents, including “honor killing.” Ideally, there would be data to show which effect, if either, is larger.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Ilisha: “I know correlation does not imply causation, but I do think these differences are interesting. If Islam lends itself to ‘honor killing’ because of concerns about modesty, why aren’t there more in Saudi Arabia?”

    That is a good point. First, let me just digress a second to be sure that we agree that this does not prove that Islam could not ever lend itself to honor killing (just like any religion could potentially lead to bad actions if misinterpreted). Lightning strikes may lead to fires when they occur in a forest, but not when they occur over the ocean. That would not mean that lightning does not ever lend itself to causing fires, just that whether it does so depends on the area in which it occurs. Similarly, at least in theory, any religion could tend to cause a particular bad consequence when it interacts with some cultural or political situations but not with others.

    “I think a stronger case can be made for honor killing being a cultural inheritance, even if we entertain this line of reasoning.”

    Maybe. Your point on “bride burnings” in India is actually useful here. That’s like saying that there are fires in forests even when there is no lightning. That would prove that lightning is not necessary for a fire. Ultimately, we would want to know if the incidence of fire is higher in otherwise similar areas with and without lightning (for example, forests that recently experienced a lightning strike and those that did not, assuming that they were otherwise similar forests). As I said to Chameleon, I would be happy to see any such evidence, though it would be potentially difficult to amass because, as you note, similar situations could be given different terms. It may very well be that the same crime is called an honor killing, a bride burning, or an incidence of fatal domestic violence, depending at least in part on who was involved, making the statistics misleading unless one is able to adjust for this.

    So, I agree that you have shown how there may not be a causal connection, but I don’t think we have enough statistical evidence, or at least not enough has been presented here, to say that there is no actual relationship. And, to be clear, I could make the same argument about lots of religions and how they can have negative effects in some cultural or political areas when misinterpreted, meaning that there is no reason to single out honor killings as anything more than one example of something that can occur more broadly.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Chameleon:

    I don’t feel like debating with you since your tone is so accusatory, and because I find it hard to see how you don’t see why your analogy is incorrect. But, in an attempt to be helpful, let me try to clarify.

    Sarah Brown said that Islam states that one should act modestly and implied that some Muslims may misinterpret that as meaning to punish those who do not do so. Your example is of people in Texas punishing someone for not acting modestly, something that is not proscribed by the Texas legislature. Let me simplify it: Islam mandates against killing and for behaving modestly. The Texas legislature only mandates the first, not the second. People in both situations violate the mandate against killing, in one case based on incorrectly interpreting a religion in the other because of their own views. Your example is not applicable.

    As Garibaldi said of Sarah’s argument, “it sound reasonable.” I understand the association fallacy and read your views on debating. You make a poor debater if you insult people needlessly and show that your view of debating has more to do with being rude than listening.

    As for your argument on a statistically significant association between Islam and honor killing not being present, that is pretty much what Garibaldi said, that Sarah’s claim is not proven. Nor have you shown any statistical evidence to disprove it. If you have such a regression, present it. I am willing to examine evidence. If you don’t present such a regression, then you should not be discussing statistical significance. Again, good debating would mean providing or linking to statistical evidence if you bring up statistical significance.

    Here is another way to see your fallacy. All religions mandate against their clergy molesting young children. Yet, perhaps something like celibacy causes one group of clergy to be more likely to do so. You can’t just say that there is no potential association between one religion’s entire belief system and the abuse of young children because such actions are against that religion’s views.

    I think you may be thinking that Sarah is somehow suggesting that Islam condones honor killing. That is not her point. Her point is that there could be a reason (mandated modesty) for some Muslims to improperly excuse a violation of a law (no murder) in Islam. You can’t argue that there is a logical flaw in her argument because Islam forbids murder. Sarah’s example is not one of an association fallacy, but rather an unproved but as Garibaldi says, “reasonable” possible logical chain.

  • Solid Snake

    If i may give my humble opinion,
    The claim is as follows:
    (paraphrased) “Even if Islam forbids honor killings (or does not condone it) elements or values within the Islamic belief system, in this case modesty, allows the murderer to justify the murder and to circumvent the “No honor killing” rule in Islam”

    I hope I summarized it correctly

    Anyway, there are many flaws with this argument even though on the surface it might seem as if it is a sound argument.

    1) Islam specifically forbids the killing of innocents. this rule covers noncombatents during war and infants (regarding the pre-Islamic tradition of murdering infant daughters) among other categories of people.

    2.) An honor killing usually occurs due to or is based on suspicion of sexual misconduct. Almost always there is no proof. Even then not being modest is not a capital offense under the Hudood section of the Sharia. Even then if the misconduct was of the punishable type such as adultery one would be required to
    fulfill the impossible prerequisites in order to get a conviction through an Islamic court. even then if the accuser manages to fulfill the requirements the accused can deny the allegations. Also, vigiantism is forbidden in Islam. The majority of honor killings are done by private parties, not that it would be ok if it was done by the state.

    Now that we have established the fact that Islam forbids the killing of an innocent, forbids the taking of a life without evidence that a capital offense was committed, and that vigiantism is forbidden, all three ccharacteristics of an ” Honor killing”, the claim can be examined more closely.

    The idea that the emphasis placed on Modesty in Islam can allow a murderer to
    justify his murder and circumvent the law does not hold up. the claim that because modesty is encouraged in Islam it somehow trumps the laws mentioned above is false.

    There are many things that can be considered “not modest” and very few are considered capital offences . Hudood laws are themselves only a small part of Shariah which, as many of you know, is a vast set of laws, suggestions, and guides that apply to all aspects of life for Muslims.

    What I will agree with though is that one could get away with an honor killing and even attempt to justify it through the above mentioned method successfully. But it takes two vital factors to make it work, the complicity and corruption of the local ” Islamic government” and the mixing of cultural practices. which i believe brings us to the more sound conclusion below:

    That Islam itself does not allow Honor killings, and does not allow any ‘wiggle’ room as Chameleon put it. Once you have committed the high crime of killing an innocent in an “honor killing” you have committed one of the most serious offences in Islam and lesser laws will not.be able to save you.

    the second part of the conclusion is that a combination of complicity of a corrupt local authority figure, cultural practices, intentional misinterpretation of Islamic values ( usually meant to persuade the people, the murderer most likely does not believe his own excuses), a general lack of
    education, and poverty all contribute to the sad phenomena of ” honor killing”.

    i hope that made sense. forgive the mistakes please. i am typing this up on a phone at 2:30 am after studying Organic Chemistry (-.-)

Powered by Loon Watchers