Islamic 'Honor Violence' Rising in the West

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BARCELONA, LONDON, and PARIS -  As Muslims migrate to the West, and more Muslim young people adopt Western ways, honor violence is increasing.

Warning: this report contains some disturbing scenes that should not be viewed by children.

• A Canadian woman was strangled by her father because she refused to wear a headscarf.

• An Italian had her throat slit by her dad while she was held down by three uncles.

• An American woman was run over by her father in his Jeep Cherokee.

• Two sisters were shot by their father in a New York taxi.

They were all the victims of honor violence. They may have defied the wishes of their parents, or adopted Western ways, or tried to leave Islam.

They did something that, in the eyes of their families, brought shame and dishonor.

So they were killed. Many were tortured first.

Honor Killing on the Rise

The precise number of honor attacks worldwide is unknown because many are not reported, or are reported as accidents or suicides. But one new report said 3,000 honor attacks were committed in Britain last year alone.

Norwegian activist Hege Storhaug left journalism to devote her life to helping the victims of honor violence after doing a story about a Norwegian girl who was forced to marry her cousin from Pakistan.

"I was astonished when she said, 'My parents were willing to kill me if I didn't enter this marriage, to protect their own honor," Storhaug said.

Storhaug showed us graphic photos of Pakistani women who had acid thrown in their faces by their husbands' family because they did not bring a big enough dowry to the marriage.

Storhaug said the families then typically say the woman had been burned on a hot stove:

"A mother-in-law was sitting at the bedside, guarding the tongue of the young woman so she didn't tell the truth about how she was burned, and it was the family who did it," she explained. "And the faces of those mothers-in-law…there was no empathy, no compassion."

Women in Danger

Although honor violence is sometimes committed by Hindus and Sikhs, it is usually a Muslim on Muslim crime. One study found that 91 percent of honor killings were committed by Muslims.

Women who break with traditional Islam often face grave danger:

CBN News interviewed one young woman who came to study in Paris after growing up in a Muslim nation.

Because she rejected Islam and Islamic rules about women, she told us that the only way she could ever safely return to her homeland is if she were to pretend to be a traditional, submissive Muslim woman.

"For them a person who goes out of the sect or the community or the group is a traitor. I would be safe if I played the game," she explained.

"You have to apologize for everything and say, 'Yes, I am coming back to slavery. I want to be a slave again. I am a slave and happy to be a slave,'" she said. "This is how it works."

Activist Gina Khan in Britain has been a national spokeswoman against honor violence and Islamic radicalism. Khan left an abusive arranged marriage and had to move to a secret location because of threats.

"You're at risk, if you speak out," Khan said. "You can be attacked. I'm aware of that. But there comes a time when silence becomes a guilt, a sin."

Leaving Islam, Losing All

When a Muslim decides to leave Islam, the situation can range from complicated to deadly. Some are so burned out on the idea of "God" that they want nothing to do with religion for the rest of their lives.

At a Spanish church for ex-Muslims, the congregation is small, in part, because the pastor says there is so much social control within Muslim communities in Europe that leaving Islam simply is not an option many Muslims take seriously.

The pastor, who did not want his identity revealed, said many Muslims fear losing everything if they convert to Christianity.

He said the mentality is: "'I have my community and I have to integrate and belong, and I cannot leave that.'

"So I've found that they don't have in their minds the option of being Christians," he said.

No Happy Life

And honor violence is only a part of the enormous control that Islamic belief exerts over the minds of women and young people.

After years of Western governments denying that honor violence was a problem, laws are now being passed to stop it.

But within Muslim communities in Europe and America, women often still do not have full rights and their lives are still at risk.

The young former Muslim woman in Paris told us that in Islam, "Women are treated as half human. Legally speaking they are minors their whole life."

But are those women still somehow happy?

"No,"she said. "Have you seen their faces? They are miserable. When you don't live in freedom you are miserable."

*Original broadcast January 4, 2012.

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Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.