Muslim "honor killings" protected under freedom of religion?

In Britain there was an “honor killing” where a Muslim man killed his daughter b/c she was becoming too “Westernized”. He is being prosecuted for murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Now in Muslim countries, even relatively modern ones like Jordan, the concept of an “honor killing” are not unknown and the perpetrators are usually not punished. So to some extent, it’s a cultural difference; it’s allowed in their native countries.

So should it be allowed in the UK or US in the Muslim immigrant communities? I realize it’s against the law, but should it be punished less? Should we not conform our ideas of justice and the laws to adopt to our new citizens, whether legal or not?

If we don’t aren’t we saying that “our” laws and cultural traditions are somehow “better” or more “moral” than theirs? If we say that, isn’t it a form of racism?

Before you say anything, please remember that these people are people of color (for the most part) so that their customs, though different, should be seen as at least equal in morality to ours.

It’s not clear that honor killings are religious in nature, (opposed to cultural). So freedom of religion doesn’t even come close to cutting it.

IIRC, there’re laws against these killings in Arab countries, but they’re haphazardly enforced. So it’s not exactly correct to say that these killings are allowed. Though, it’s not exactly correct to say that they aren’t allowed.
Maybe tamerlane will come by to comment.
I’ve wondered about how the rationale for these things goes.


I know it is just me. But what exactly did you mean by this? Are you simply saying that we should not dismiss customs on the basis of race? I’ll assume that.

Simple answer, no. Why should we change our culture and beliefs to accomodate immigrants? I’m not trying to say that any race’s culture is better than any other’s. At least not because of race. But if anyone wants to kill their child and then say “But they do it all the time back home!” then I have to say “Tell it to your new boyfriend for the next 30 years.”

Even MLK said it was ok to judge someone by the “content of their character” IIRC

The law of the land is the law of the land, and you don’t get a pass just because you do things differently back home. I, for one, have no problem with stating that some laws/customs/beliefs are better than others. Cultural sensitivity has got to have some limits after all, and I think that murder should definitely be on the other side of those limits.

Well, what I meant by that, is that some people would look at the situation as follows:

We are largely white and prohibit act X.

A new immigrant community, largely “of color”, has a custom of activity X.

To say to them “you’re in our country now, and you must do as we say” is inherently racist and (i’m not sure of the world) “culturist”. It assumes our laws and culture are better than theirs.

Because they are “of color” we should make a special effort to ensure that we do not assume the “superiority” of our laws. Instead we should try to look at it from their point of view. Their ways may be superior. So maybe we should loosen our laws against “honor killing”.

In a similar vein, the Muslim immigrant community in Sweden is about 5% of the population but supposedly commits 25% of the rapes. Muslim leaders have been quoted as saying that “women dressing in shorts or short skirts is considered a provocation to men” in their culture. I may be mis-quoting a bit, but the idea is that Swedish women need to alter their culture and dress more conservatively (this has been stated by ethnic Swedes also) in order not to “provoke” men (whether Arab or Swedish, although Swedish men seem less likely to be “provoked” statistically).

Now I know that this comes dangerously close to saying that “women deserve/ask for it”. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying that that is what some immigrant groups ASSUME from their culture.

In order for all groups to get along, inevitably we will have to change our ways somewhat.

To not change our ways, is racist or cultural imperialism isn’t it?

That’s my question: To what degree is our refusal to change our culture and laws racist and culturally imperialist?

It’s not religious, it’s entirely cultural.

“You killed your daughter by stabbing her 17 times and then slitting her throat ? Okay, that’ll be 10 years if you’re Muslim and Life if you’re not” - how’s that gong to work and why should it work?

And who determines when ‘honour’ is in issue – this man was merely concerned his daughter was becoming too westernised. It was a deeply personal, subjective judgement call the father made. There is no precedent in English Common Law or Roman law jurisdictions for individuals taking the law into their own hands.

Just not going to happen, nor should it happen, even if, for example, those many westerners in Saudi Arabian prisons for alcohol offences would wish it otherwise.

‘Honor killing’ is not sanction in the Koran; it is cultural, like clitoridectomy.

From the OP:

Ummm . . . why? What has their color to do with the morality or immorality of their customs?

There is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with a law infringing on a deeply and legitimately held religious belief. The catch is that it must be done for a secular purpose, and be neutrally and generally applied. One’s religion may require blood sacrifices weekly around a bonfire, but there’s nothing unconstitutional about noise and fire ordinances within city limits so long as they are enacted for a secular purpose and are neutrally applied to everybody. To say otherwise would give anybody free reign to violate any law in the guise of religion, and force the courts into the role of determining which religious beliefs are legitimate and which aren’t.

So, should people who claim a right to murder be given free reign to do so under the guise of free exercise of their religion? It doesn’t work that way. A Thuggee may honestly believe that his religion requires him to ritually strangle as many people as possible, but we as a society aren’t required to delve into the sincerity of his beliefs before we outlaw murder across the board. There are plenty of secular reasons to outlaw murder that have nothing at all to do with infringing on a religion.

*Originally posted by bri1600bv *
To say to them “you’re in our country now, and you must do as we say” is inherently racist and (i’m not sure of the world) “culturist”. It assumes our laws and culture are better than theirs.

Im sorry, this is absurd. By choosing to move to a different place, youre choosing to place yourself under the laws of that place.

You could only claim racism or culsturalism if the laws applied selectively to various races/cultures, but they do not.

Oh, and individual freedom is not a cultural belief, it is the lack of any, or to be more specific, the lack of any imposition of any.

To not change our ways, is racist or cultural imperialism isn’t it?

Um, no.

**That’s my question: To what degree is our refusal to change our culture and laws racist and culturally imperialist? **

To no degree whatsoever. The only time one might consider changing ones laws as an attempt to get rid of cultural whatever is when those laws themselves are based on nothing more substantial than cultural beliefs. In that regard, we all have a long way to go (like laws against gambling, etc). But more and more legislation is not based on something as irrelevant and made-up as cultural beliefs; more and more law is based on rational self interest to the largest amount of people.

Where could you ever have gotten the idea that laws against murder, rape, etc were cultural in origin, and not a manifestation of the biological drive towards securing ones self interest? There is no blank slate, no tabula rosa. Humans are more than just the products of their social environment.

if their culture condones and encourages the murder of family members in order to “maintain honor”, then our culture is better.

What does their race have to do with anything? If they were white and wanted to engage in “honor killing”, I’d still say that they were wrong.

So we should water down our laws just because some other culture does things differently? I don’t think so. Besides, I view any culture that does not protect the lives of it’s innocent citizens as being inherently inferior.

And to insist that we change our ways is equally racist and/or cultural imperialist. Either way, you’re placing one culture’s values above another’s.

It’s not. Laws are laws. They’re not open to being “adjusted” based on cultural differences. Anyone who wants to perform “honor killings” in this country need to call their congressman and have the laws changed, just like everyone else. No “get out of jail free card” just because your former country did things differently.

So long as “Feminism” equates to the radical notion that women are people, there shall be no rest.

Arabs are caucasoid (sp?) just like Europeans.

Please. Killing a woman because she got uppity happens here all the time. The difference is the name it’s given. Who cares what country the killer came from? The result is the same.

Like Bill Maher, I have no problem whatsoever saying Western rule of law is better than any culture that tolerates or advocates killing in the name of honor. We punish lynchers, and so should honour killers be punished. Racist, schmacist.

People like you try to find a reason for their to be something inheriently wrong with everything Western Society does, I think it’s more to do with the fact that Muslims from other cultures are not used to the level of freedom or expression that we are accustomed to, so therefore, when they see what we enjoy e.g free sex, multiple partners, co-habitating but not married, they see it as a threat to their own beliefs because that is the only way of life they have seen.

And why should we change our ways to fit theirs in? We always have to change our views, did you know that advanced western societies have their own culture too? Maybe they should do a bit of the changing, for once, instead of whinging to us about not understanding their ‘needs or wants’

And regards to the Sweden excerpt, so your saying it is wrong for women to express themselves freely in what they wear, and that a male perspective on what is ‘right’ for them to do is what they should listen too? I think not.

It is exactly what you are saying. If you think that honor killing and enslaving women is such a wonderful idea, go live in one of the barbarian cesspit countries where it’s part of their “culture”. In the civilized world, we don’t look kindly on murder and rape.

I think bri was just doing a poor attempt at creating a strawman around cultural relativism. At least I hope so.

Yes, it does, and yes, they are.

If we did not think our laws and customs were in some ways (and here, in all ways) the best we’ve come up with, we would not have them.

It gives me pause to think of the ignorance out which the OP has formulated this argument. Don’t you think it’s a bit sexist and mysoginistic to go around killing women for not living the way someone else wants them to live? Or are women a lesser class in your eyes, and have less a right to life than the people you’d like to give a pass to murder? Isn’t that treating one group as inferior to the other?

Murder is murder and is universally deplorable. It is universally illegal in almost every case (self-defense excepted). As someone has already pointed out, this act is even legal in the countries where it may be practiced, however nominally those laws may be enforced.

And I have to agree with others who have said any culture that allows or encourages its citizens to conduct such killing is inferior to ours in that regard. That is not to say that there is a blanket inferiority. If you claim, as you do, that “Their ways may be superior,” then it stands to reason that ours may be as well. I think that is something to be decided on a case-by-case basis. Not each “honor killing” (as you call it, though I find NOTHING honorable in it), but each facet of a culture. Gradation–do not forget gradation. You’re only seeing black and white if you actually are as ignorant as you’re coming across.