Murder is murder

Women held a rally in Kabul on July 11 to protest violence against women. Radio Free Europe words it strangely though.

Dozens of women have rallied in Kabul to condemn violence against women.

The protest on July 11 follows the public execution of a young married Afghan woman in Parwan Province who was accused of adultery.

That was no execution. That was a murder. There was no trial, no judge, no jury, no defense, no due process of any kind. There was just an accusation, followed by a public murder. Yet RFE calls it an execution twice more, before finally calling it a killing at the end.

It was a murder.


  1. Martha says

    That’s for damned sure. They couldn’t even say “execution-style murder,” as they usually do, at least for men?

  2. Ramel says

    For most of Europe execution==murder, there is no real difference (unless you’re a Daily Heil reader).

  3. StevoR says

    Yes it was.

    Her name was Najiba, she was twenty two years old and she was shot dead maybe after an affair, maybe after a rape.

    You can see this if you choose on Maryam Namazies blog :

    But be warned. That’s very graphic,disturbing and harrowing.

    Ye, it was murder. Murder without trial for a dubious probably non-existent “offence” that Najiba almost certainly had no control over. Murder caried out with cruelty and barbarity murder executed in public before a cheering despicable crowd of taliban swine

  4. hotshoe says

    I don’t think it strange that the word “execution” was used instead of “murder”. I think execution is by far the stronger word. Murders are a dime a dozen, and its almost certain that this story would have never been heard if she had merely been murdered by the husband (or father, or brother) in private. What made this outrageous is that she was dragged out to be executed by a (Taliban) gang.

    I don’t see that using the word “execution” connotes that her killing must have followed after a legitimate process of trial, judge, defense and due process. That’s how the word is defined in the dictionary, but it’s not how it’s being used nowadays in common speech.

    Here’s an interesting article about political implications Why world must react to Taliban execution

  5. Lyanna says

    Hmm. I wonder what’s the positive (in the sense of non-normative) difference between an execution and a murder? Because I think hotshoe’s point is valid, and the official social sanction of this murder is key.

    I think it does have to involve whatever passes for legal process in the culture where the killing occurs. No legal process or legal authority = murder. Legal process/authority = execution.

    I’m not sure which this was, though, since in places with very little law and order, the difference between having and not having legal process may not be that dramatic!

  6. Godless Heathen says

    Related to what Lyanna and Ramel said,

    My guess is the following:

    The death penalty is legal in some states in the U.S. It is not legal in any (?) European country (maybe 1 or 2, but I don’ know).

    Therefore, in the U.S. execution is the less-bad word because we (Americans in general) assume that if the state is sponsoring a killing, the person really, really deserves it, whereas a murder is not state sanctioned and therefore the person probably doesn’t deserve it (in the minds of Americans).

    In Europe, the death penalty is illegal, so people view execution and murder as equally bad things.

    Maybe, I don’t know for sure. But I do agree that in the U.S., execution is the less bad word. It’s why anti-death-penalty activists use the term murder as much as possible when referring to executions. They know Americans will think murder is a bad thing.

  7. sailor1031 says

    We can be sure of one thing – Cold war dinosaur “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty” is carefully following the script given to it by the State Department; I don’t think the choice of wording will have been an accident.

    Why does RFE/RL even exist anymore? Cutting that out of the budget should should be a no-brainer.

    In more serious news the “virgin Mary” has now appeared on the trunk of a tree in West New York. The faithful are, as expected, flocking to the scene…..shades of toast cheesus!

  8. Godless Heathen says


    Mmm. Good point. For some reason the fact that this Radio Free Europe was the same as the Cold War Radio Free Europe didn’t even click for me.

    I take back my previous statement: They are totally trying to downplay this woman’s murder.

  9. hotshoe says

    No, they aren’t choosing this word “execution” to downplay “murder”. It’s nothing to do with cold-war relics.

    It’s just silly to speculate that “execution” is somehow a less-bad form of killing than “murder” or that using the word “execution” is somehow minimizing the outrage. That’s not how those words function for most English speakers. They actually work other way around – an execution is worse than an ordinary murder.

    A gang-style execution is worse than merely another gang murder. A Taliban execution is worse than merely another Afghan murder.

  10. says

    I wasn’t thinking RFE was downplaying the killing; my point was that “execution” implies some kind of standing to inflict due punishment for a demonstrated crime. It makes it sound more legitimate than it is – including, I would think, to people who oppose capital punishment, live in countries that don’t have capital punishment, etc.

    With Mafia killings the phrase is “execution-style,” not just plain “execution.”

  11. hotshoe says

    Okay, Ophelia, I get where you’re putting the emphasis.

    Google suggests you’re wrong about Mafia “execution-style” killings vs Mafia “executions”, though.
    180,000 results for Mafia execution style. 4,500,000 results for Mafia execution. The Telegraph apparently uses the former, the Daily Mail apparently uses the latter. Maybe it’s a class thing.

    As a resident of a US state which still has capital punishment (although it’s been years since anyone was actually executed in this state) I personally don’t think state-sanctioned execution sounds more legitimate than murder. I don’t see it as any better to follow due process which results in cold-bloodedly yanking some man out of his cell at dawn and then chemically killing him vs. not following due process which results in village leaders yanking some woman out of her room and then gunning her down.

    I’m genuinely puzzled that you think people who oppose capital punishment would nonetheless be influenced by the supposed legitimacy of a trial and punishment to make “execution” sound less horrible than “murder”. But, maybe that’s just me.

    In any case, it’s surely an improvement that media persons, the US State Dept, and Afghan government have all spoken out in horror at the illegitimate killing of this poor woman. It’s surely better than previous, similar, killings of helpless women by Taliban which did not happen to make the news or raise any outrage because they weren’t public “execution-style”. It won’t bring her back, but it’s at least possible that this public outrage will compel the local government to arrest and prosecute the men who killed her.

  12. says

    Well, it’s kind of the same as the difference between imprisonment and kidnapping, or paying a fine and being robbed (assuming the state in question isn’t just a thug state, which of course many of them are). It’s the rule of law as opposed to its total absence. The Taliban has taught me to have a lot of gratitude to the rule of law.

  13. hotshoe says

    Yeah, especially when even thug states like Saudi Arabia can sometimes be persuaded by world opinion to show clemency to a prisoner – and there’s time for world opinion to have an influence, because the prisoner wasn’t given a one-hour kangaroo court and them immediately dragged out and gunned down.

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