Honor killings of Muslim women in the United States and across the West persist. Is intersectional feminism giving cover to these practices?
“At least international media can see how I am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t want to come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”
– Qandeel Baloch, Controversial Pakistani social media celebrity who was a victim of an honor killing at age 26 by her brother whom she financially supported.
The average American might find this unfathomable – it has been about a decade since I last saw one of my childhood friends whose family caught her dating a non-Muslim boy. The last I heard was that she was sent on “vacation” to visit family in the Middle East. I never saw her again after that. I was later informed that she was married off while visiting her home country in her parents’ attempt to control her behavior, which they deemed salacious and dishonorable.
Stories of Muslim-American women facing oppression are quite common. Nearly a decade ago in Texas, Sarah and Amina Said were gunned down by their father for having boyfriends and behaving “too westernized.” In 2009, in Arizona, Noor Faleh Almaleki was run over by her father in his SUV and later died from complications of her injuries. Her father allegedly killed her because she adopted a lifestyle that was “too westernized.” In 2016 in Ohio, Tahani Mansour was shot once in the back of the head and again in the side of her face as she slept in her bed. The shooter, her father, claims he felt “disrespected” because she arrived home late and dated a non-Muslim man. She later died during emergency brain surgery.
The cases above are often swept under the rug or reported on by small, local news outlets, if at all. When they are reported on, inevitably the reporting is done within the parameters of an incredibly biased lens. Rarely do the victims’ stories get the focus they deserve – on the one hand, their story might be sugar-coated with politically correct language, a practice which actually distorts the issue at hand and misleads the reader, while on the other hand their story might be used opportunistically to promote anti-Muslim sentiment, with little regard for lives lost. Both methods of linguistic distortion disrupt the truth. No longer is free speech the only value under attack in the free world – the right to truth itself is also subsequently barred. This era of political correctness continues to create and enable a generation of individuals who are essentially accessories to honor-based violence, happening right under our noses in the free world.
On Australian television, prominent Muslim-American feminist Amani Al-Khatahtbeh answered an inquiring studio audience member regarding honor killings by tacitly dismissing the terminology as orientalist and even invoking domestic violence in Australia as a top killer of women — an empirically false allusion. This is a faulty comparison because domestic violence differs from honor violence. Honor violence is always attached to a specific ideology and its notion of what “honor” means. Australian Muslim feminist Yassmin Abdel-Magied proclaimed on Australian television that Islam is “the most feminist religion” while attacking Western culture by saying, “[Islam being the most feminist religion] is the reason why [Muslim women] do not take their husband’s last name — [they]are not [their husband’s]property.” These are a few of the most prominent representations of Muslim feminist activism in the West. This is not so much activism at all, but rather a way to attack Western culture and values as inferior to Islamic culture and values. Today, there are no Islamic theocracies that are socially or economically compatible with free societies.
Many intersectional feminists, in possession of a lived experience and an education that intersect absolutely nowhere with Islam, ally themselves with fake feminists, while completely ignoring the catastrophes of the honor killing epidemic imported into the Western world. In a now infamous tweet, prominent feminist Sally Kohn tweeted to the president of the United States “Hey @realDonaldTrump, many *progressive Muslims* — the ones we should support in ideological fight against extremism — believe in Sharia!! [sic].”
Hey @realDonaldTrump, many *progressive Muslims* — the ones we should support in ideological fight against extremism — believe in Sharia!!
— Paperback writer (@sallykohn) August 16, 2016
“Supporting a set ideology such as Shari’a is not only anti-woman, it is a way of provocation that is meaningless to Muslim-American women who face honor violence in accordance with Shari’a”
Many adherents of intersectional feminist doctrine are becoming the very catalyst of what they claim to be against. This is arguably due in part to a Marxist-influenced curriculum being peddled in prestigious universities. Many intersectional feminists claim to be proponents of global women’s rights but instead champion oppression through so-called activism, including self- imposed segregation, “wear a hijab day,” and attacking allegedly “privileged” individuals, the definition of which is mercurial and often arbitrary. Somehow, at no point do these intersectional feminists consider that wearing the hijab is sometimes not a choice – that it is often imposed upon women, and worn by them out of fear. Assumptions, which were formerly the enemy of social sciences, seem to run rampant within the social arena.
Cultural Marxism, a core component of Marxist curriculum, promotes a homogenous view across cultures. This empirical falsehood under the guise of “political correctness” allows for pressing feminist issues to be swept under the rug and forgotten. There is an alarming acceptance of collectivist thinking and narrow definitions of complex topics. Instead of addressing an extremely patriarchal ideology which theoretically should be antithetical to feminism, the blame is essentially placed on a free, capitalist society. It is becoming more and more socially acceptable to prefer orientalist lies and historical romanticism than to openly proclaim a stance that is liberty-oriented, freedom-oriented, and most importantly, factually-oriented.
When women of Muslim heritage express their disdain for the blatant misogyny imposed upon them in what should otherwise be a free country and explain how various practices of Islam oppress them, they are immediately seen as an enemy rather than an ally to protect. Critics of Islam from Muslim backgrounds are disinvited, threatened, and/or heavily protested at conferences under the wrongful accusation that such activists are “inciting hatred against Muslims” or even promoting white supremacist ideology when they are simply exercising their First Amendment right to criticize the misogynistic aspects of an ideology. This insidious method of blocking free speech present in the United States and other Western countries is reminiscent of the silencing that women face in closed societies such as Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
While the alleged anti-woman “bogeyman,” as deemed by today’s intersectional feminists, seems to change depending on who is being asked, many active feminist schools of thought blame capitalist ideology as a whole. This argument is simply false. It is demonstrable that countries which empower women exhibit greater economic development. This is due to the basic fact that if you have more individuals participating in the economy, more development will ensue. If anything, capitalism is a tremendously useful ideology for women who are seeking empowerment through their freedom of choice, incentive, and individual liberty. It gives women the autonomy and individuality that has been the proposed goal of feminists since their nascence. Limitations on free speech, celebration of homogeneity, and the increasing power of a misinformed, politically correct state is the true enemy of women.
Writer, Ex-Muslim, and 2nd generation Iraqi-American.