ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) - A shocking and gruesome story of a T.V. station owner's wife, found decapitated at the Bridge's Muslim T.V. network in Orchard Park.
In pictures of happier times, 37-year-old Aasiya Zubair and her 44-year-old husband Mo Hassan, who founded Bridges T.V.
While some non-feminist bloggers are focusing on the contrast between the peaceful mission of this Muslim TV network and the violence committed by this particular Muslim what I notice, based on my knowledge of domestic violence, is this case lacks contrast or surprise.
Because of the TV network and the fact that this woman was decapitated, this murder does have a built in story which catches the attention of many people who would otherwise ignore this crime where a husband murdered his estranged wife. This increased coverage in the blogosphere can make it seem like the crime itself is far different from the cases which don't get national traction.
But from the details presented, this case isn't significantly different from thousands of other murders committed by husbands against their wives. She was a wife who had filed for divorce and had filed an order for protection. Less than a week later, she had been murdered and her husband was charged.
Like many other spousal murders, this murder happened in the most dangerous time for women. The first month after they leave the relationship.
If this crime gets described by Hassan or his defense attorney as an honor killing I would view that as just another way to blame the victim. This habit of victim blaming is in no way unique to Muslims.
Too many people are willing, when the husband/murderer is like them demographically, to claim that the husband must have been pushed to this level of violence by the victim and the family court system.
For me honor killing is just another phrase which excuses murder and those who commit murder. It markets brutality and cold-bloodedness as something the murderer had to do.
In non-Muslim circles where this type of crime is excused or minimized instead of talking about honor killings they often talk about men being driven over the edge so that the perpetrator becomes a victim of the murder victim.
All those who condemn this man must also condemn all of the other men who murder their wives. If they fail to do so then it isn't the crime of murder itself which they are condemning.
Update (2/21): There have been responses to this murder from Muslim activists.
Unfortunately, just as in non-Muslim communities there are still Muslim's in the US who practice victim blaming and who rationalize violence against women. If the victim were just a better person or a more obedient wife she'd still be alive. According to this worldview the murdered woman brought the violence upon herself.
"Muslims don't want to talk about this for good reason," said Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, a Muslim author and activist. "There is so much negativity about Muslims, and it sort of perpetuates it. The right wing is going to run with it and misuse it. But we've got to shine a light on this issue so we can transform it."
There is evidence of movement in that direction in the 10 days since the Hassan slaying. In an open letter to American Muslim leaders, Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali of Sterling, Va., vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, said "violence against women is real and cannot be ignored."
He urged that imams and community leaders never second-guess a woman in danger, and said women seeking divorces because of physical abuse should not be viewed as bringing shame to their families.
Muslim women's advocates consider the statement significant after years of indifference in a community which has seen only recent progress - for example, the opening of shelters for battered Muslim women in a few major cities.
This view is shared by many people who in other ways are nothing alike and who may even hate each other.