11.29.2011 01:00 AM

In today’s Sun: lost in translation

If you enter those words — “honour killing” — into Google, in fact, you will be quickly provided with hundreds of media accounts of the trial. In headlines, and in straight-up news coverage, the murders are repeatedly referred to as “honour killings.”

The craggy railbirds of the Canadian media, Christie Blatchford and Rosie Dimanno, have been there to chronicle all of it in forensic detail, regurgitating the prosecutors’ “honour killing” axiom over and over. And one old Islamophobe, Robert Fulford, actually wrote in the National Post that “One lesson we can learn from Kingston is that mindless tolerance, when carried too far, can be fatal.”

“Mindless tolerance.” What’s mindless, in fact, is the likes of Fulford, who have dishonestly suggested that “honour killings” are permitted, or even encouraged, in Islam.

Problem: It’s a lie. If you were to comb through the Koran, in fact, you would not find a single passage that advocates “honour killing.” It isn’t there. Plenty of prohibitions against murder, however, are.


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    Juan Liberale says:

    Muslims are far more tolerant than Christianist conservatives when it comes to diversity, progressive values and gay rights. I say that we import as many of them as possible so that Blatchford, Fulford and their KKK supporters can be outvoted and a new progressive coalition of progressives, muslims and people of color will ensure a permanent political majority where the racist reformatories can never ever win an election ever again!

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      T PAUL says:

      Do not tell that to a gay person in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or even downtown Amsterdam..

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    ottawacon says:

    Not quite sure what your point is….there are multiple injunctions to execute women guilty of lewdness, fornication or adultery. Are you objecting to the fact that some version of Islamic due process was not observed?

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      James Bow says:

      Can you cite any of these injunctions from the Koran, by chance? I’m curious.

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        ottawacon says:

        Well, for example, 4:15 calls for confinement until death for such women.

        To be clear, I think it would be a fair comment to say that passages are no more characteristic of all Muslims than the comparable injunctions in the Old Testament are of all Catholics. However, the counterpoint is that there are very few Catholics whose religious practice is strictly driven by literal interpretations of those passages, whereas there are some sizable Islamic populations such as Wah’habi Saudi Arabia that are so guided. In fact, the Pashtun culture that produced the accused in the Kingston murders is very similar in its intrepretations to the Wah’habi. But it is a simple fact that among the Pashtun, hadith is interpreted to permit exactly this kind of violence. While modernist Muslims are profoundly uncomfortable with this, as they should be, it is an argument within Islam and has been for centuries – not some arbitrary construction of hostile Western journalism.

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          Lawrence Stuart says:

          I can agree with this. Well, partially.

          I don’t think anyone is trying to justify the actions of the alleged murderers in this case. What is at issue is the explanation for their actions: portraying it as a function of “Islam” is simply wrong. It is a comes out of a particular interpretation of Islam, and has, as others have far more eloquently expressed below, a great deal to do with cultural and political conditions in particular places and situations. Religion is often invoked as a justification for behaviours and beliefs. I think most of us, whether liberal, conservative, Muslim, Jew, Christian, or other find the behaviours and beliefs in this case repugnant. But let us not condemn an entire religious community because of the actions of a few.

          On the other hand, I take your point about the ongoing argument within Islam. But how is this argument any different than those which occur within other religions? Because Salafist or Wahabist doctrines are ascendant in some places, and violent jihadist doctrines present a challenge to western interests in many others, does not negate the ‘modernist’ (or, say, the Sufist) tendencies within modern Islam. To argue that Islam is unique in its tensions between literalism and metaphorical interpretations is to ignore the very real, ongoing, and uncertain relationship between Unitarians and Evangelicals. Or between orthodox Mormons and the polygamist sects.


          I am not convinced there is any deep structural reason for the current ascendancy of ‘modernist’ or ‘tolerant’ versions of Christianity, i.e., there is nothing within the Scriptures themselves that produce the historical ascendancy of more liberal forms of Christian theology. Nor is there anything in the Koran that lead inexorably to the House of Saud and Wahabist orthodoxy. And there is certainly nothing in the Koran that leads inevitably to the murder of the four women in Kingston.

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      Pat says:

      Yeah… none of those things have anything to do with religion – the same way the execution of people for committing murder in the USA is not a religion-based program. In both cases it is a decision by the ruling elites to create and enforce a particular law. Tying crime and criminal justice policies like these back to religion just provides more justification, even if the relationship between the policy and religion are weak/non-existent.

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    smelter rat says:

    The Bible doesn’t encourage kiddie diddling either, but nonetheless it is a prevalent theme amongst some clergy. Not sure what your point is Gord.

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    Pat says:

    But in all three cases the religions draw their authority from those books – and in all three cases religious leaders have interpreted those books in order to justify killing.

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      Pat says:

      The vast majority of violence? Really?

      I’m not sure you can really call what you are referring to as “radical Islam” a form of Islam. Just because terrible people happen to be Islamic doesn’t mean that their religious ideology is guiding their actions. Ahmadinejad it threatening developing nuclear weapons – do you think he’s doing that because he is a Muslim, or because Iran feels threatened after seeing Iraq and Afghanistan invaded? By your definition, George W. Bush was a radical Christian who took his Christian nation to war against a much weaker Islamic nation. Bush even used religious terms to describe what they were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan (he once called them a Crusade). I actually don’t believe that Bush is a radical Christian – I think that his actions in the middle east were based on more tangible benefits – but using religious symbolism and terminology was certainly helpful to him when building a case for war.

      Christians are responsible for a gigantic chunk of the violence in the world, self-described Christians are responsible for the majority of homicides in the the USA, and Anders Breivik described himself as a Christian. I know what you’ll say – that you don’t describe Breviak or most of the others as Christians – but what if the majority of Muslims don’t describe Ahmadinejad or the Shafias as Muslims?

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        sharonapple88 says:

        How many christian suicide bombers or honour killings have happened recently?

        Christian Honour Killing. There are honour killings among the Christians in Egypt and the Kurds.

        I noticed you hedge the bomber bit because there are a number of Christian bombers — Anders Behring Breivik, members of the
        IRA, and Eric Rudolph.

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        sharonapple88 says:

        Should have put quotation marks around “Honour.” There’s no honour killing women just because they don’t do what you want them to.

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      smelter rat says:

      And radical Christianity. And radical Hindism etc. etc. Take off your blinders Gord.

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        smelter rat says:

        Only in your head, Gord.

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    Pat says:

    Sorry, I didn’t actually say exactly what I wanted before submitting that comment. What I meant to say is that Warren is merely pointing out that we are playing up the term “honour killing” as though it is a part of their religion, which is not actually the case. That would be like a Muslim assuming that a crusade, or an inquisition, are a part of the christian faith. They are more often than not a cultural issue, not a religious one.

    Besides, painting everyone with the same brush is stupid, which often happens with Islamophobes. There are people from every religious and cultural background who are capable of killing someone in similar circumstances – they are called crazy people – just as there are many more people from every religion who are much more interested in peace and getting on with their daily lives.

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    Paul McKeever says:

    That’s a defence of the book, not of the religion.

    The popes make up rules all of the time, and countless Catholics (I *was* one, before I reached the age of…reason) treat them as gospel.

    Condom anyone?

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    Stephanie Powers says:

    Religion is a major component of overall culture along with history, ethnicity, manners, language, cuisine et al.

    The confusion of religion and culture, mainly because for some cultures religion is a significant influence over other components, is prevalent today in media and in the defensive responses like some of what you read on here.

    I think there should be little denying that Islam has a stronger influence over Middle Eastern culture overall, than does Christianity or Judaism in modern Western culture with our more secular value system, diverse ethnicities and general tolerance for a wide range of manners.

    But what you have with ‘honour killings’ is a cultural trait, that has in some of those cultures been justified by reference to selected passages of the Quran. Lots of people want to point to Christian atrocities of the past that have been justified by passages in the Bible, but those are not examples of the Bible and Christianity being wrong/evil – those are examples of evil aspects of our culture using religion to justify itself.

    Lots of disgusting behaviours lie at the intersection of religion and culture. Are Muslims by following the Quran suddenly misogynist, racist, violent? No. But are there misogynist backwards cultures in the world where treating women no different than your camel is accepted? Yes. And that’s what we have in Kingston – a family from a culture of misogyny whose males used their adherence to Islam as a justification for carrying out murder.

    And that’s where we go wrong as a society at times – it is not that we fail to deal adequately with Muslims or any other religion, it is that we fail to deal adequately with these backwards cultures that wash up on our shores.

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      Bob Maher says:

      “Tolerence based on Christianity”

      Really? So the Church denying the rights of gay people etc shows their tolerance? It has nothing to do with religion.

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    TED PAUL says:

    You are in denial Warren.
    They dishounored the Islamic based culture.
    It is the same as Aqsa Parvez. Aqsa refused to wear the hijab, for that death. Her own Mother after the trial said “Aqsa you should have listened”…..

    She could not even turn to her own Mother.

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      Bob Maher says:

      Ted you’re just basing the entire religion on the actions of the few. it is not based on the “islamic culture” but the interpretations of the few of the religion. These same interpretations exist in every religion. It has to do with moderation as much as anything else.

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        Ted Paul says:

        Don’t take my word. Take Iranian Woman’s rights dissident. Homa Arjomand. for it.
        As far as Homa Arjomand is concerned, official multiculturalism belongs in the prisoners’ box along with three Ontarians on trial for the honour killings of four female family members.
        “If Canadian children – and by that I mean children who are born here to Canadian-born parents – approached child welfare authorities with the stories of fear and abuse that these girls did, then the child welfare workers would not have hesitated to take them to a safe place and start legal proceedings against the parents,” adds Arjomand.”

        We are just too afraid to offend.,,,,it would challenge cultural relativism,,,,,,,,,,by the way, Aqsa Parvez is still in a unmarked grave.

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    Bob Maher says:

    Wow. You completely missed out on he Norway Bomber/Lords Resistance Army / Westway Baptist Movement etc etc etc? Please. Get your head out of your ass. it is no more than the actions of the few. And those few exist inevery religion. There are radical nuts out to kill in the name of Christianity too. As are there hindus/jews etc etc etc. No one religion passes all others in this

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    Herman says:

    And over and over again I see the same discussion going on as in ‘Christianity and Judaism’ are violent too…
    Sure enough there was violence.
    Now then again: when did you last see Christian or Jewish people blow up themselves and killing 100’s if not thousands of other innocent people.

    Just read quran, ahadith and learn from history, past and present: islam was, is and will always be a violent cult, created by a ‘prophet’ in the 7th century.

    Maybe look into Egypt, where after ‘friday prayers’ Coptic Christians businesses, homes, churches and monasteries are attacked, Christians burned alive…
    Maybe look into other areas of Africa, where Christians are targeted, murdered and their properties burned or confiscated in Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ivory Coast…. let alone in ALL of the muslim countries in the world.
    Look into the violence you witness in ALL of the Western countries towards the infidels, men and women alike, where women are often victims of rape, in Norway and Sweden. Underage girls are preyed on in the UK and Australia, muslim enclaves are built all over the Western countries, institutionalizing the infamous sharia law and refusing to adhere to the law of the country.

    But still: you wouldn’t blame the ‘religion’…. Wake up, smell the coffee and look into what is happening around the world.

    And BTW: don’t compare the stories in Christian en Judaic religion with the commandments of the quran…..
    As for instance:
    quran Chapter:2 Verse:223
    Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad).
    (in plain English: women are nothing more then a possesion to men)

    quran Chapter:8 Verse:39
    And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do.
    (in plain English: fight [kill] the infidel until there is only islam!)

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