Bhutto’s Assassination Is a Political and Cultural Honor Killing
by Phyllis Chesler
In a sense, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a political and cultural version of an honor killing. Bhutto was the first woman Prime Minister of a Muslim nation and she symbolized an unacceptably Western form of female ambition and achievement. She had attended Harvard/Radcliffe and Oxford. She spoke English–perhaps more fluently than she spoke her native Sindi or Urdu. She once dressed as Western women do. Indeed, many Muslim women from wealthy families, including educators and feminists, have done so for a long time. They cannot do so now.
I am suggesting that, as a member of the Ummah (or larger Muslim collectivity), Islamist fanatics decided that Bhutto was unacceptably and publicly too-Western, and they sentenced her to death for this sin.
Pakistan is known for its many bloody honor murders and other atrocities.
In 1999, in Lahore, Pakistan, Samia Imran was shot dead in her feminist lawyer’s office by a man whom her parents had hired to kill her. Her crime? Daring to seek a divorce.
In 2001, in Gujar Khan, Pakistan, Zahida Perveen’s husband attacked her, gouged out both her eyes, her nose, and her ears. He wrongly suspected her of adultery. His male relatives honored him for doing so. (A team of American doctors subsequently fitted Zahida with glass eyes and prostheses for her ears and nose).
In 2002, a tribal council in the Punjab, in Pakistan, sentenced eighteen year-old Mukhtaran Bibi to be gang-raped as a punishment for something her twelve year-old brother had allegedly done: Walking with a girl from a higher-status tribe. (Actually, he had been sexually abused by Mastoi men who sought to cover up their crime in this way). Mukhtaran Bibi’s father was forced to witness her gang-rape, after which she was driven naked through the streets. Amazingly, the gang-rapists were eventually arrested and convicted. Mukhtaran Bibi was given round-the-clock government protection. The rapists have vowed to kill her anyway.
Did Benazir Bhutto think that her membership in a historic dynasty would protect her from the war against women that jihadists are currently waging? Did she think that the government could actually protect her from such woman-haters who would vote al-Qaeda into power if they had the chance? (The fact that she was a political threat both to Musharraf and to the Taliban and that she might have functioned as a bridge to America and potentially to Israel did not endear her to those who killed her. The fact that she had planned to recognize Israel and had already asked for Mossad protection, could indeed have been the final nail in her coffin. SEE HERE.)
Bhutto was one of the “moderate” Muslims for whom the West yearns. Muslim fanatics murdered her in cold blood and they did so in an exquisitely planned and choreographed way. Their willingness to die in order to kill, terrorize, and impose their ideology upon others is precisely what keeps other “moderate” Muslims silent.
How far are the representatives of freedom, modernity, and human rights willing to go to end such terrorism? If we are not ready to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to free humanity from the plague of fundamentalist Islam, then we must be prepared to convert, veil, submit–or die.
Quicksand and Quagmires
Rosanne Klass, an old Asia hand, so to speak, reminds me how much central Asia resembles a far-out Eastern version of our own long-ago Wild West. The feuds never quit, the violence never stops, only more violence and larger bribes can ever dominate smaller violence and smaller bribes–and then only for awhile.
Thus, I am linking here to a sophisticated article written by Sol Sanders about Pakistan. I agree: Men here routinely assassinate male leaders. I still think that Bhutto’s assassination spells trouble for other women who may wish to divorce abusive husbands or to attend college.
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