On International Women’s Day, we commemorate 23 year old Hatun, murdered in cold blood in Germany by her brothers for ‘dishonouring’ her family, for divorcing a man she was forced to marry at 16, for unveiling, and for dating German men.
Some boys discussing her death put it clearly: ‘She deserved to die; the whore lived like a German.’
To her brothers, Islamists and the political Islamic movement that is all she was.
And that is all Maryam Ayoubi, stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage by the Islamic regime in Iran, was. And all that 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi, hung in a city square in Iran for acts incompatible with chastity, was…
Sometimes it takes a Hatun, Maryam or Atefeh to outrage us and move us into action.
I suppose it is easier to understand one woman – her refusal and resistance, and the barbarity of the Islamic justice meted out against her. Hatun and others like her personify and symbolise the sub-human status of women in Islam-ridden societies like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or Islamist communities in Britain and Germany.
Hatun’s death outrages us not because her murder is a rare tragedy but because it is so common. There are millions like her living under sexual apartheid, veiled, gagged, bound, burnt, hacked to death, hung, decapitated, stoned… Million like her refusing and resisting and demanding a life worthy of 21st century humanity. Millions like her demanding to live a life of their own choosing.
How simple it sounds and yet how difficult it has become to do so in this day and age – difficult in a New World Order where universal values and standards are under attack. All we hear over and over – as if a sermon over the corpses of innumerable women – is that it is ‘their culture and religion’. Respect them; tolerate them; do not offend them… Nowadays, religion and beliefs have more rights and demand more respect than human beings are allowed to.
And if you cry out and say enough, if you say political Islam is reactionary – it must be pushed back; if you demand universal rights and secularism – you are deemed racist and an ‘Islamophobe’!?
How many more Hatuns, Maryams, Atefehs before we put women and human beings first?
How can we end honour killings and the slaughter of women by the political Islamic movement?
Certainly not by appeasing, encouraging and maintaining it as western states and the so-called nationalist Left groups are doing.
Not by respecting and tolerating it.
Not by promoting separate rights and standards for different people whether they live in Iran, Iraq or in the West.
Not by chipping away at secularism.
And not by giving religion more access and power over the social sphere.
[Imagine appeasing, encouraging, tolerating and respecting fascism and Nazism and promoting different standards and rights for its victims.]
Throughout history, reaction has always been pushed back by standing up to it and confronting it head on.
Political Islam deserves nothing less.
(The above is adapted from a speech given at an IWD conference in Germany initiating a campaign against honour killings.)
To see pictures from the conference, click here.