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May 24 2012

Avicenna says

UK blogger Avicenna writes about the murder of Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed.

It is alleged that on September the 11th, 2003. Shafilea was picked up from her part time call centre job, driven home where an argument broke out.

At some point in this scenario, her mother pushed her onto the sofa and ordered her husband to “Finish it Now”. Farzana and Iftikhar Ahmed were then alleged to have held her down, forced a plastic bag into her mouth and covered her airways till she suffocated. Shafilea fought to live, struggling against this assault. Her father had his weight over her chest. Alesha described her final moments as a struggle to breathe with her eyes bulging in strain for a single breath of air and wetting herself as the life was choked from her. After she died her father struck her a single hard blow to the chest before getting up.

This was done in front of her four siblings. She was allegedly executed in such a fashion for bringing dishonour to the family. By not conforming to her parents “Pakistani Villager” ideals of what a girl should behave like. If this scenario did happen, then this was a calculated plan by parents to murder their child. What drove her parents to do this was a lot of things but on that day it was because Shafilea went out wearing a white t-shirt and trousers. She was allegedly killed because of the clothes she wore.

It’s culture, Avicenna says. Criticism of a culture is not racism, Avicenna says. (Avicenna is “Asian” aka Indian.)

Shafilea was killed by her parents because they belonged to a rural islamic culture which placed an inordinate amount of value on “familial honour” and treated women as property or livestock. Her tribal culture played a part due to the idea of honour. Islam played a part as it doesn’t treat women as anything but a set of reproductive organs. Our culture played a part because it is unwilling to criticise real things that need criticism.

Shafilea to her parents was nothing more than a brood cow that wouldn’t birth. It is wrong, it is not cultural imperialism to point it out. It is common sense. It is like a MRA suggesting that women are all bitches or cunts. It is like the Stormfront suggesting that all black people are superhuman crime and rap machines. It is empirically a bad viewpoint and we are not racist for calling them out on it and actively seeking to destroy that bit of culture.

It’s a bad viewpoint based on othering and dehumanizing, contempt and hatred.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I can’t breathe, this is so brutual.

    Aren’t parents supposed to love their children?

  2. 2
    fredbloggs

    It’s concerned me for a long time that police in the UK have been hands-off because they are scared to become involved in what are considered to be cultural issues for fear of being accused of racism.

    The UK’s policy of multiculturalism has only made this worse, especially when immigration has been so high over the past 15 or so years.

  3. 3
    stonyground

    There have been regular updates on this case on Real Radio news. I have refrained from commenting about it up to now pending a verdict. If the story is indeed true it is simply appalling. I look at my own fifteen year old daughter and simply cannot comprehend how anyone could do such a thing.

  4. 4
    Dianne

    I’m sure there are many wonderful things about Indian/Pakistani culture. This attitude is not one of them. There is no racism in condemning murder.

  5. 5
    Avicenna

    Fred Bloggs –

    Multiculturalism is merely the idea that different people of different cultures can live together as long as their cultures do not hurt other people. I don’t see the evil behind a Diwali celebration that isn’t there in a christmas choir.

    Multiculturalism is a good thing. I get to maintain my own cultural heritage while being part of normal society rather than being forced to conform to the social norm of the majority. It doesn’t mean that you need to accept bad practices as normal.

  6. 6
    FredBloggs

    Avicenna – and if only those aspects of other cultures were maintained I would agree. But what happens when a culture includes forced/child marriages, FGM, misogyny?

    Should those aspects of other cultures be tolerated? I have heard of multiple instances of FGM being performed by doctors in the UK. This is a cultural imperative, but I doubt that you would agree with it.

  7. 7
    Avicenna

    Mine includes murder, slavery, rape and pretending to be a giant snake. I ignore the first three parts of it and just do the giant snake thing in my own time…

    That’s the thing with culture. It is flexible. There is no hard and fast rule that says “only real Pashtun kill disobedient women”. It’s trying to make this distinction.

    The problem is we discuss culture as if it is static and unchanging. You can be a real jew without cutting bits off your penis and likewise you can be a real central african without mutilating your vagina (FGM is seen in both christan and muslim areas and it seems to be cultural rather than religious).

    Oh as for the Doctor who did that? He was struck off and jailed. FGM is illegal in the UK and carries a 14 year jail sentence.

  8. 8
    fredbloggs

    Avicenna – I don’t think there has been just one instance of FGM being practiced in the UK

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jul/25/female-circumcision-children-british-law

    I agree, FGM is not mandated by religious belief, but it is often used as the means whereby it is enforced.

    What’s your take on the niqab/hijab?

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