Democracy shuts its eyes as Muslim women are enslaved

Posted: May 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Throughout Europe, people are standing idly by as Muslim women are being murdered for having the audacity to date, or to not wear their head scarves outside, or to yearn for a life outside of the home. The problem is most pronounced in Germany. Last month six German women were murdered by their Muslim families for flirting with Western culture. Most recently, Hatin Surucu, a twenty-three-year-old Turkish woman who had been forced into marrying her cousin at age 16, was gunned down at a German bus stop. The attack had been planned. The motive-- Surucu had divorced her husband, discarded her religious head scarf, and had begun dating German men. This was too much for her family to bear. So her three brothers killed her, and orphaned her five year old son.  

The brothers bragged to their friends about the ?honor killing.? In their community, they are considered heroes for suppressing their personal emotions and doing the tough work of God?discharging bullets into their defenseless sister. At least, that?s the way they tell the story in certain cloistered Muslim enclaves in Germany, where ?honor killings? are becoming an increasingly familiar phenomenon.

And how is mainstream German society responding to this trend? For the most part, they?re not. Following World War II, Germans have been conditioned not to criticize other cultures. Afraid of being labeled racists or Nazis, Germans sit passively by while hundreds of Germany's Muslim women are stripped of their basic human rights.

Well, wagging your finger at the practices of another culture might not be politically correct.  But what about what?s morally correct? What about the thousands of Muslim women who are being enslaved by archaic religious practices? What about the women like Surucu who are being killed for wanting a personality outside of their restrictive religion? At some point the German people must realize that protecting the rights of women like Surucu is not a matter of cultural relativity. It is a matter of universally recognized human rights. The idea of enslaving an entire gender is fundamentally at odds with the basic freedoms embraced by all enlightened, democratic societies. Germany cannot allow the mere threat of charges of cultural or religious insensitivity to undermine the basic democratic values they have worked so hard to achieve in the post war era.

Very simply, the culture of another people does not have to be accepted when it is subhuman! "Honor killings" are subhuman! And human rights activists need to address the situation in no uncertain terms.  The practice of killing women for wanting to have lives of their own needs to be held up to public scrutiny. At the same time, the German government needs to engage in outreach programs to Muslim youths. They need to make sure that Muslim kids are not so alienated from mainstream society that they can simply be programmed by Mosques to hate and degrade women. Most of all the government needs to provide sanctuary to oppressed women and girls, instead of allowing Muslim extremists to hide their abuses behind a disingenuous veil of cultural relativity.  Democratic societies like Germany can no longer give religious fanatics a free hand to abuse and murder non believers. Such action betrays contempt for the basic human rights which animate any democracy with meaning. In a democracy, we simply cannot allow the word ?honor? to be attached to such brutal and archaic religious practices.