It was only a matter of time before someone would try to make some political hay out of the very curious obsession that the American (Arab-backed) mainstream media has with honor killings when and only when they are committed by Hindus.
And now, the Huffington Post has given none other than John Esposito the bully pulpit on this one. Professor Esposito teaches Islamic Studies at Georgetown, where he is also the founder and director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. ("Hath not a Jew eyes?" Why are Jews not included in this project of understanding?)
From 1988-1992, Esposito served as the president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). Needless to say, this association is a radically left, pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic group. It is certainly not a feminist group. Please read Martin Kramer's excellent book Ivory Towers on Sand, which examines MESA's activities and point of view.
But of course, who else, who better, to speak for women? Who can better express the feminist point of view? And on an American left-liberal website?
This is precisely the high ground that Esposito seeks to claim. He is now concerned with "violence against women." He writes:
"Gender equity and violence against women are two issues rightfully attracting more attention in the mainstream press, but in the court of public opinion, Islam is seen as an instigator of women's oppression. Studies show that gender equity is cited as a reason for the public's mistrust of Islam. … Such violence refers to crimes committed against females and cuts across numerous faiths, cultures and societies."
Therefore, to redeem the honor of Islam and earn his Saudi money, Esposito describes a particular honor killing, assuming that most readers will assume that it has been committed by Muslims. But, he explains, this tragedy has been perpetrated by Hindus!:
"Women are murdered in so-called honor killings everyday, and the public has a right to know more about these crimes and their victims. Take India for example. On Saturday, the first-ever Indian Peoples' Tribunal on so-called 'Honour Killings' gathered prominent lawyers and activists from major Indian non-government organizations, including the Human Right Law Network, the Women's Legal Forum and the Women's Christian Association of India, to raise awareness for these crimes. The event followed an incident earlier this summer when two young people from different backgrounds pledged to marry one another but were killed by their loved ones. Family members perpetrated the so-called honor killing to restore their communal standing. Some praised the murderers as heroes, and authorities treated the crime with impunity.
"Were the victims Muslim?
"No. That's the point."
Shamelessly, Esposito actually holds the Indian government's rapid and high-profile response to honor killings against it to make his point that Hindus, as well as Muslims, actually commit honor killings. They do. But mainly in India. Those Indian Hindus who immigrate to the West do not often do so. Mainly, Muslims do so. In Europe and North America, the majority of honor killings are Muslim-on-Muslim crimes. Please see my studies at Middle East Quarterly here and here. The American media absolutely refuses to focus on honor killings of Muslim girls and women in America. Instead, the media focuses on honor killings in India as long as Hindus are the perpetrators. I have written about this phenomenon here and here.
Esposito is right when he says that "violence against women cuts across numerous faiths, cultures, and societies." The work of second- and third-wave feminism has proven that to be so. However, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Bahai, Zoroastrians, Shinto, etc. do not commit honor murders. Christian Arabs in the Middle East sometimes, rarely, do; Hindus, but only in India, do so; but it is mainly Muslims, both in the West and in Muslim countries, who engage in this foul practice.
Muslim honor killings also occur all over the Muslim world. Whether or not this is a religious, ethnic, tribal, legal, or social custom among highly misogynist societies is beside the point. It is Muslims who perpetrate them. Some say they do so for religious reasons, others claim that it is simply their custom. In the West, it is a crime. India is treating it as such as well.
I challenge John Esposito to deny this. I challenge him to show me what steps the Saudi, Libyan, Sudanese, Somali, Iraqi, Pakistani, Afghan, and Iranian governments have taken to put an end to this abomination. I challenge John Esposito to find me 100 imams and mullahs who would be willing to issue a fatwa against all those who conspire in or perpetrate the torture and murder of their own women.