16 comments
N. Gemayel
N. Gemayel

Oh my god ! what is the legitimacy of queen Rania. There is no democracy in Jordan and nobody freely voted for her. In the west there are as many women who are killed by a jealous husband. Before equality rights, i think quality of life is the more important. when the medias like CNN are coming to the arab world, they don't speak about GBP per capita, Unemployment, Health Care, Pensions as it would be done for western lands. Queen Rania is jumping on this opportunity of Western Naivety to move the subject from Every day life concerns to Dogma and idealistic issues. So, Queen Rania is exposing a case that will not improve the life quality of women in the Arab world. I have been in several muslim countries, and since 10 years i saw women were as well treated by their husband as in the Western countries. It is anyway an epiphenomenon compared to unemployment and misery through the arab world. Why trying to change the world when you have a huge workload in your own country ?

Alessandra
Alessandra

I created a blog about Arab and Muslims women and I talked about this video: I like it :-)... And also I talked about the iniziative launched from Queen Nour for Bani Hamida women. I'm not sure that that the victims of honour kllings are just around 20 per year, according what I know and they happens most of all in Muslim countries... but in Italy there were some legal articles like 340 and 98 in Jordan untill 1981 (I was already born!!!). Then India isn't a Arab or Islamic country, but here are very frequent the honor crimes with acid ( as for example Bangladesh and Pakistan).

Layla
Layla

It's apples and oranges, though, Onzlo. We're talking about "honor" killings here, not murders in general (and Jordan has both). But since you went there. . .murders are usually punished appropriately. There is something approximating justice. Not so in most cases of "honor" killings. And most "honor" killings occur in countries that have fewer freedoms and human rights, where the state is seemingly omnipotent. There is little accountability, little transparency (including with crime data). So the state can crack down on people just for thinking a certain way or writing certain things or choosing to gather with certain people. They can monitor movements and Internet use and the press and things like that without having to demonstrate a reason or reasons why that should be necessary, why the person poses a threat. They can arrest indiscriminately and hold indefinitely. There is a heavy military and police presence. All these things tend to restrict people before violence can escalate too far. Whereas most Western countries have chosen to offer people much more freedom and independence, including the freedom to kill, but not without (usually severe) consequences, including social consequences of being made an outcast.

onzlo
onzlo

Layla I agree with everything you say, however what is left unmentioned when people say things like 'Jordan has one of the highest rates of dishonour killings in the world' is that Jordan also has one of the lowest murder rates in the world, so its not actually like women are getting killed left right and centre, which seems to be the impression many people have from reading these comments. In fact, in general it would seem that Muslim majority countries tend to have much lower murder rates than the average. I think this is a message that we should get across, that yes dishonour killings are a problem, and they are a problem because we (not the west think it is), but that these crimes are more or less just like the violence against women that takes place everywhere in the world including the western world, so it is ridiculous for Westreners to have this image that the average Arab women is likely to get casually get killed by her brother or husband etc... because its not true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_murder_rate Also, I think the number one priority in tackling how the law treats dishonour killings (seeing as the parliament is not cooperative) should be to change the way judges deal with these cases, we have seen cases where the judge has been willing to interpret 'a fit of fury' to extend to whole days or even weeks of cold blooded planning, which is not the actual meaning of the phrase intended by the law.

Layla
Layla

There are some great comments here. Mitch, dishonor killings are believed to have their origins in misinterpretations of pre-Islamic Arab tribal codes. They pre-date Islam by centuries and are un-Islamic. That said, it is empirically the case that, of the U.N.-estimated 5,000 dishonor killings per annum, the majority occur in the Arab/Muslim world and in Arab/Muslim communities elsewhere. So there is a correlation, but it has more to do with culture than faith. I was disappointed in the queen's comments, for they come across to me as falling into the cultural/moral relativism side of the argument, as opposed to just saying, without qualification, that they are a violation of the most basic of human rights, human rights that should be universal. And she somewhat dodges the elephant in the living room, for she has the ability, if she wanted, to influence legislation, to do more to prevent these deaths. She is sleeping with The Man. It's not like she's not in a position to clean up this problem. But I agree with whomever said she's not really playing to the thinking people. She uses her PR machinery to good effect; unfortunately, in the process, the truth is sometimes cast aside. According to the U.N., for example, Jordan has one of the highest rates of dishonor killings in the world. It is a problem, not just a stereotype.

Mitch Nellerson
Mitch Nellerson

Thank you all for your responses. it is a question of culture and old attitudes rather than religion. What is the source of those old attitudes and why do they persist? Are they declining? Jordan has a youthful population, so do you think you will see this legal loophole closed within your lifetime or are such old attitudes prevalent among the young as well?

Mohanned
Mohanned

Along this line of reasonning and riding the wave of Obama, if you look at our society and our parliment: on what issues do people vote? Do they vote on solutions? Do they vote on substance? Do they vote on hope? Do they vote on policies? And to take it to the next level: Even if they vote on those issues: Why is the system skewed to limit any chance for change? And lets assume that the current system produced a new kind of parliment, do they stand a chance to change anything? The answer is no: so the result is people voting based on tribal basis, relegious affiliation, origins, etc.. So please lets just focus.

Mohanned
Mohanned

Mitch, Just to give you an insight on how the culture works: I think a year or two ago a survey was conducted, and if I remember correctly more than 80% fo the women surveyed support the idea of violence against women. In other words, the party being abused is "cool" with it!!Maybe this is a shock to many, but those who live the culture know it is true. One has to ask the following quesion: Is it relegion? No. Then what is it? The debate should become: Why such values still exist? Why our "Moderation" is superficial? Is the outer layer a real representation of the society or is it just a facade? And those questions are directed to those who hold the power: Why do you think that a facade is more important than the real substance inside the society? why do we care so much about how others percieve us while on the inside we all know what the reality is? Are we fooling the outside or are we fooling ourselves? The push for change might have a better chance succeeding when its people driven. The honor crimes issue along with others are nothing but proxies, they are not the real problem, people fight for those things becaue they represent the last things they can hold to. If you survey the people I bet that their living standards will top the list.. So please let us focus on the inside, then we can later talk about perceptions, and trust me, once the inside is fixed, the perceptions will automatilly change.

Hamzeh N.
Hamzeh N.

Mitch, I think you're right in pointing out that these videos are not really providing a deep insight for westerners to the Arab world, but I also think that was not the purpose of them to begin with. In my opinion, these videos are not aimed toward people who are looking for the sort of deep insight that you might be looking for, but more toward people who just happen to live outside the Arab world and know about it from their media. People who might not necessarily care about the details. I think these videos are mainly meant to present an image of the Arab world, and especially Jordan, that is not necessarily very accurate, but brighter than what is already being reflected in media around the world, and I think this is something necessary. Arab blogs are probably the best place to find the kind of information that you are looking for.

Nas
Nas

"If the religious establishment regarded these killings as completely unacceptable and furiously denounced them, then the supporters of Islamic political parties would demand their representatives do something about it." the establishment is different indeed. there is a sense that the Islamic party (IAF) represents conservatives as well as religious folk, and they are not necessarily the same. In other words, even if the IAF denounced honor crimes and supported government legislation, the government would still not have enough votes to pass it in parliament, specifically due to the presence of conservatives that are not oriented with religious groups, yet still make up the majority of the lower house and probably the country. it is a question of culture and old attitudes rather than religion. like the queen said, arabs are not monolithic and neither are Muslims. If Jordan is so different from Saudi Arabia, imagine the difference between Jordan and Indonesia! "I think Westerners are curious as to whether it is more or less common in the Arab world than other places and would be interested in knowing what drives the most notorious examples of that violence like honor killings." I don't really think she brushed it aside as much as she put it in global context. there is a perception in the non-muslim world that our crimes are very different and unique and more importantly, prevalent. However I would argue that the US has a much higher crime rate per capita than most Arab nations. Honor crimes are horrible but they are still too low to be considered a major crime "problem" in the context of larger issues. In other words, they are not prevalent enough for the Arab or Muslim world to be labeled as "different". In the global context, they are no more different than some of the craziest crimes committed in the US, Canada, France or the UK, but specifically the US. Moreover, honor crimes are also a matter of legislation; our penal code unfortunately allows for a loophole that's big enough to ram the grand canyon through. On the other side of the ocean, some US states execute minors. So crime and punishment involves a great deal of culture and law, both of which differ and vary and are perceived to be unique by different people with different attitudes. Though I agree with you that people can learn a lot more about each others' worlds through the blogosphere or by talking directly to one another, as opposed to listening to leaders, politicians or even activists.

Mitch Nellerson
Mitch Nellerson

Nas, In other words, they are worried that passing a law that imposes harsh penalties on honor crimes will remove a cultural deterrent and therefore give way to an increase in promiscuous behavior, which in itself is anti-Islamic. In other words, they pick what they believe is the “lesser of two evils”: Thank you, Nas. That was very helpful. Unfortunately, I assume this kind of slippery slope thinking must have some currency in more conservative mosques in Jordan. If the religious establishment regarded these killings as completely unacceptable and furiously denounced them, then the supporters of Islamic political parties would demand their representatives do something about it. It sounds like, at the very best, the conservative religious establishment is indifferent. Conservative Muslims in Jakarta must feel much the same way about women's modesty and moral behavior as conservatives in Jordan. So why don't we see this kind of thing in Indonesia? This is an ironic statement. The west is always demanding that Moderates in the Middle East need to stand up and speak up, and then when they do, their either ignored or lambasted for it. No irony here. I appreciate Queen Rania's personal moderation, but I would like hear from more thoughtful people who can answer questions directly. For example, rather than brushing violence against women aside by saying it happens everywhere, I think Westerners are curious as to whether it is more or less common in the Arab world than other places and would be interested in knowing what drives the most notorious examples of that violence like honor killings. Not to defend these videos but if you take some time to look at the hundreds and hundreds of comments, I would guess that many of the people watching these videos are exactly the type of people you suggest are least likely to. Perhaps you're right. I think Queen Rania might have a certain appeal, particularly to men, in any country. :-D Khalaf, Mitch, we have laws in Jordan that prevent us fron saying anything negative about the royal family. Don’t expect any harsh critiques here. I realize that and I'm honestly not down on the Queen. Like I said, she seems nice enough and she represents Jordan very positively to the non-Islamic world. These are admirable things for a person in her position. No one appreciates a national spokesperson constantly denigrating or failing to defend their own country. I think Jordan is probably lucky to have her. I understand what she is doing and am not offended, but I just don't expect very much from representatives of the governments of any country. Politicians are all the same, be it the United States, Argentina, Jordan, Nigeria, or Japan: they tell the people what they think the people want to hear and are heavy on slogans and rhetoric and light on analysis. That's the nature of the beast.

Khalaf
Khalaf

Mitch, we have laws in Jordan that prevent us fron saying anything negative about the royal family. Don't expect any harsh critiques here.

Nas
Nas

"How do they justify such things theologically? " To speak specifically with regards to Jordan, Islamic parties, are concerned about the cultural ramifications of legislation. In other words, they are worried that passing a law that imposes harsh penalties on honor crimes will remove a cultural deterrent and therefore give way to an increase in promiscuous behavior, which in itself is anti-Islamic. In other words, they pick what they believe is the "lesser of two evils": a few killings a year in order to preserve a culturally conservative environment. In other words, their reasoning is, suffice to say, absurd and senseless. "but I’m not expecting much more than the sort of vague, relativistic, superficial drivel we saw in this video from people who are self-designated spokespeople for Arab governments" This is an ironic statement. The west is always demanding that Moderates in the Middle East need to stand up and speak up, and then when they do, their either ignored or lambasted for it. Not to defend these videos but if you take some time to look at the hundreds and hundreds of comments, I would guess that many of the people watching these videos are exactly the type of people you suggest are least likely to.

Mitch Nellerson
Mitch Nellerson

Honor killings are not exclusive to Islam -- as the recent case involving Yezidis in Iraq demonstrated -- nor are they prevalent in all Islamic countries, but it doesn't help that Islamic political parties in the Arab world seem most interested in maintaining the dismal status quo. So what exactly does that say about these parties and their conservative, presumably religious supporters if not about Islam universally? Do honor killings have the support of some prominent religious institutions and imams in the Arab world? I would have to imagine so, since if the religious establishment was dead set against honor killings, you might expect religious political parties to take a harder line against them. How do they justify such things theologically? Any theories as to why honor killings occur regularly in the Mideast and South Asia but not in places like Indonesia? Queen Rania is a beautiful lady and, as far as I can tell, a fairly nice person (though appearances may be deceiving), but I'm not expecting much more than the sort of vague, relativistic, superficial drivel we saw in this video from people who are self-designated spokespeople for Arab governments. They aren't going to get us any closer to answering fundamental questions, and they seem targeted toward people who haven't the slightest knowledge or interest in the Muslim or Arab worlds; in other words, the very people least likely to watch her videos. Perhaps harder heads in the Arab blogosphere can provide us curious Westerners with deeper insights.

Hala
Hala

I love what she said in general and what she said about Honor Crimes in particular. I simply love her, We needed somsone to go onstage and clarify critical issues as such. It is about time. :)

Maher
Maher

This is Something! Something BIG!