Iraqi-Kurdistan: The Only Appropriate Response to Honor Killings and Fatal Fatwas
|Keith Windschuttle has provided a powerful historical example of the only appropriate response to "honor" killings and fatal fatwas:|
Sir Charles Napier, the British Commander-in-chief in India from 1849 to 1851, signed an agreement with local Hindu leaders that he would respect all their customs, except for the practice of suttee, the incineration of widows. The Hindu leaders protested. Napier replied:Hat tip: Oxblog.
Some might object to relying on the example of a colonial warrior, namely Napier, who oppressed and imposed Western values on both India and Afghanistan. Yes, colonialism was and is wrong. Yes, Napier and the British imposed their will on the people of India and Afghanistan.
However, whatever else they may have done, they did not "oppress" the people of India by preventing grieving widows from being burned alive.
Moreover, we are not now talking about imposing our values on some foreign culture (no matter how beneficial, as in the case of the British ban on the practice of suttee, doing so may be), but instead about deciding for ourselves the values we uphold and, most importantly, are willing to defend. At some point one must decide what type of society one wants to live in and, far more importantly, wants one's children and grandchildren to live in. A society, such as the India of Napier's time, where widows are burned to death? A society where religious authorities can issue a fatal fatwa against one who has written a scholarly book? A society where a young woman can be murdered with impunity by those who "do not like girls to choose who they marry?" At this point in history, some things are simply wrong and should not, and cannot, be tolerated.
As a result, Napier's dictum can and should be applied to honor killings:
You say that it is your custom to kill any young woman who has the unmitigated gall to choose who she wants to marry. Very well. However, we also have a custom: to defend to the death such a young woman and, if she is killed, to hunt down, prosecute and fully punish the persons responsible for her death. Attempt to kill her; we shall defend her. Succeed in killing her; we shall ensure that you pay fully for your crime. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.Napier's dictum can and should also be applied to those who issue fatal fatwas:
You say that it is your custom to kill any person who has the audacity to criticize your religion. Very well. However, we also have a custom: to defend to the death the right of a person to speak his mind even if we disagree with him and, if he is killed, to hunt down and fully punish the persons responsible for his death. Attempt to kill a person for speaking his mind; we shall defend him. Succeed in killing him; we shall ensure that you pay fully for your crime. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.Finally, lest it appear that I am being overly critical of Iraqi-Kurdistan, allow me to note that this is a lesson that the West must also relearn. Indeed, Iraqi-Kurdistan has an opportunity to serve as an example for the West. It need only seize that opportunity.