As the free world wages an international war on militant-Islamic terrorism, nations like Britain and Denmark need to confront this far more domestic form of terrorism. And it is Muslims who face a special challenge, as word of these honor killings spreads. All of the stories I've mentioned have involved Muslim families, they need to make it clear that they will not tolerate these atrocities -- often committed in the name of Islam.
Here in the West we are constantly cautioned, when we encounter news of a terrorist plot in which Muslims happen to be involved, not to take out our anger on Muslims in general, which is only sensible. One shouldn't lash out at a whole group of people because a member of the group did something awful. But what we really need are loud Muslim voices of outrage. They're out there, but not quite loud enough yet. Moderate, mainstream Muslims -- those who abhor the kind of values that condone honor murders -- need to speak out against those who are bringing such shame upon their religion.
This kind of speech can have a global effect. As Nina Shea of Freedom House has pointed out, "even Islamist totalitarian governments like Iran and Saudi Arabia can be shamed by public exposure. There are examples where these governments have desisted from executing stonings and other hideous human-rights atrocities after a public outcry either in the West or at home."
Bat Ye'or, a scholar of Islamic culture, says we need to denounce these atrocities vigorously "because secrecy is the best friend of crimes."
Denounce them not just for the sake of those who died; the Samaira Nazirs and Ghazala Khans, who can't tell their own horrible tales; denounce them also for the "lucky" ones like Noor Jehan, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot five times by her cousins (by order of her father) because she wouldn't submit to her arranged marriage. She told reporters, "They thought I was dead but ... somehow I got courage to come out of that ditch."
Hundreds of women and girls are believed to be killed this way in Pakistan annually. Muslims need to start leading, and take their religion out of that deadly ditch.
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