February 19, 2009

More on Aasiya Hassan

Posted in Activism, Current events, Feminism, Religion at 1:31 pm by The Lizard Queen

There has already been good coverage of Aasiya Hassan’s muder at the hands of her husband at various sites, namely Shakesville and Feministing, but I wanted to post a couple of things I was sent today via Facebook.  First, there’s an article up at The Guardian’s Comment is free site that reiterates that this case illustrates not one particular group’s propensity toward violence, but the problem of domestic violence in America as a whole:

The entire world reacted with shock and outrage as Muzzammil Hassan, a Pakistani-American businessman and co-founder of Bridges TV, was arrested for the gruesome murder of his estranged wife. Aasiya Hassan, an architect and MBA student, had recently filed for divorce and received a restraining order against Muzzammil as of 6 February 2009.

Contrary to some spurious reporting, this was not an “honour killing”, a barbaric practice that has its own unique motivations and historical culture, rather it personifies the all too common phenomenon of domestic abuse. Asma Firfirey, the sister of the deceased, stated Aasiya suffered last year from injuries that required nearly $3,000 of medical bills – allegedly the result of spousal abuse. . . .

This horrific tale is one example from the epidemic of violence against women that has been intentionally ignored by all communities – not just Muslim and Pakistani. For example, in the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44.

Sadly, despite the universality of the problem, the antiquated tropes of “the savage Muslim” have emerged to crudely tar all Muslims and South Asians with the same brush.

Kneejerk reactions like this ignore the millions of Muslim, Pakistani and immigrant couples who share the same joys and burdens of marriage like any other, yet never resort to violence, abuse or murder.

The whole piece is well worth reading, and reacting to, and remembering.  Next, here is an excerpt from a press release entitled American Muslims Call for Swift Action Against Domestic Violence

A coalition of Muslim organizations, journalists, community leaders, imams, and other concerned citizens are calling for immediate action by American Muslim leaders and religious figures to address domestic abuse and violence in America, including that found in the American Muslim community, on Friday, February 20, 2009.

In response to the collective concern of the American Muslim community, imams and religious leaders across America have been asked to speak out against domestic violence to their congregations. They are asked to remind congregants of the Prophet Muhammad’s abhorrence of harshness, abuse and violence, and emphasize solutions that strengthen families and ensure all members are treated with fairness and respect, free of fear of abuse or violence.

Members of the coalition are contacting imams and religious leaders in major Islamic centers and mosques. They are encouraging sermons addressing domestic violence and are offering resources available through the Peaceful Families Project, a Muslim-run domestic violence prevention organization founded in 2000, to help educate the American Muslim community. This education addresses the extent to which domestic violence exists and strategies to stop it.

As I’m not a member of the American Muslim community myself, I don’t have any idea of how effective this push will be.  Still, I think it’s well worth the effort, and it’s the sort of thing I would like to see more of, in a variety of communities.  (It’s certainly a refreshing change from the teachings of Rick Warren/Saddleback Church…)

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