Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Muslims protest honour killings

A cartoon in today's Telegraph shows a crowd of bearded and hijabed figures marching under banners emblazoned with NOT IN MY NAME, OSAMA BIN LIAR, NO MORE MURDER, DROP TERROR NOT BOMBS. The caption reads, "Coming to a high street near you?" It's all in the question mark and it's been asked many times before. Where are the Muslim protests against Islamic terror that make as much noise as the ones against cartoons and popes, or any noise at all?

Well, last Thursday there was a small noise outside the courthouse in Brescia (Italy), even if the terror in this case was that exercised by men over women inside the four walls of a house. The occasion was the first hearing in the trial of four Pakistani men for the murder last August of Hina Saleem, a 22-year-old. It was an 'honour killing'. One of the four is her father, the others close relatives. The girl's crime was that she wanted to live like an Italian; she had gone so far as to (secretly) move in with her Italian boyfriend and get a job in a pizzeria. She had also refused to marry the Pakistani man that her family had chosen for her. So her father cut her throat and buried her in the garden with her head towards Mecca.

The men were rounded up in short order and are now on trial. Last Thursday, 200 people gathered outside the court to voice their feelings, among them the Imam of Turin, Abdellah Mechnoune, and many Muslim women from various volunteer associations. Dounia Ettaib, on behalf of a Moroccan women's group (Acmid-Donne), had requested that her association be allowed to take civil part in the prosecution in order to sue for damages. The request was refused, but the protest gained national coverage and one other less desirable reaction.

Last Friday Dounia Ettaib was assaulted by two Moroccan men near a mosque in Milan. They had a message or two for her - "Stop talking about Islamism" - "Hina is a prostitute like you". One of them grabbed her face and sneered, "Beauty doesn't last long". Miss Ettaib reported them and was immediately granted a bodyguard and Italian citizenship.

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