Israa Ghrayeb’s ‘honour killing’ should be our wake-up call

Israa Ghrayeb

Ramzy Baroud writes in The Palestine Chronicle:

The death of Israa Ghrayeb has ignited furious reactions regarding so-called “honor killings” in Palestine and throughout the Arab world. It has also caused confusion with respect to the jurisprudential foundation of such crimes, which are often committed in the name of protecting a family’s honor. 

Israa, a 21-year-old makeup artist from the town of Beit Sahour in the West Bank, was reportedly beaten to death by her own brother for “dishonoring” the family. The tragic episode was apparently ignited by a video posted on social media that showed Israa spending time with her fiance. 

While Palestinians and other Arab communities are genuinely angry regarding the violent mistreatment of women, others have found another platform to indict Islam and condemn Arab society. Predictably, the issue quickly and conveniently branched into the realms of politics, ideology and religion.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Lenient laws regarding honor killings in the Middle East (and other parts of the world) do not originate from Islamic Shariah law but from France’s Napoleonic era Penal Code of 1810, which largely tolerated “crimes of passion.” In France and Italy, laws concerning honor killings were not abrogated until 1975 and 1981, respectively. 

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This is the crux of the problem. As intellectuals, educators and human rights activists, we often find ourselves trapped in a restricting paradigm. Aware of the real motives of the Western media and official propaganda, we engage in a battle of self-defense, desperately trying to shield our religions, countries and societies from ill-intentioned criticism. In the process of doing so, however, we often neglect to speak out on behalf of the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups; the likes of Israa and millions like her. 

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