On April 7, 2007, a teenage Yazidi Kurdish girl named Du'a Al-Aswad was stoned to death by a lynch-mob in Iraq, because she had violated her family's honor. A video of the stoning, filmed by the participants themselves using their mobile phones, was posted on http://leilamagazine17.blogspot.com/2008/02/blog-post_6785.html.
A year after the stoning, Saudi reformist and human rights activist Wajeha Al-Huweidar wrote a scathing article in which she harshly criticized the sexist character of Arab culture and particularly the phenomenon of "honor killings."
The following are excerpts from her article, which appeared on the reformist website www.aafaq.org.
"This Entire Part of the World [is Full of] Defeated and Dejected Men, Whose Only Way to Feel Victorious Is by Beating Women to Death"
"Last April, a 17-year old Iraqi girl named Du'a Khalil Al-Aswad fell in love with a boy from a different [religious] sect. By this act, she violated the 'honor' of the men in her sect, causing them to go mad with the boiling [rage] of hellfire. Their male [egos] swelled like cancerous tumors, and their minds locked into the primitive madness of 'honor.'
"They filled with restless madness, and in order to relive their anguish, they hurried to sentence poor Du'a to death, and then decided to carry out their sentence in the ugliest possible imaginable, i.e., by public stoning. They killed her with the utmost cruelty and depravity.
"Du'a Al-Aswad is a victim of the wild male madness called 'honor.' This concept is prevalent throughout the Greater Middle East [Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Al-Kabir], or perhaps I should say the Greater Filthy East [Al-Sharq Al-Awsakh Al-Kabir], since it is worthy of this label from every perspective – in particular [when it comes to] the treatment of women. From Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iran, the Middle East, and all the way to Morocco, this entire part of the world [is full of] defeated and dejected men, whose only way to gain some sort of victory is by beating their women to death.
"The depraved men who participated in the stoning of Du'a – all of them [guilty of] premeditated and deliberate murder – were raised to believe that the lives of their women are theirs to control. That is why they competed with one another at stoning Du'a, and fought to film her as she gasped out her last breaths. These horrible men conspired to kill a young girl who had committed no crime and hurt no one. Each of them picked up a boulder and hurled it at her. [Feeling] prideful and glorious, they bashed in this young [girl's] head, and her blood pooled on the ground as she lay there dead...
"But killing her was not enough for them. After she was dead, they mutilated her young body, kicking her and piling more rocks on top of her. Then they broke out in cries of 'Allah akbar,' and 'there is no god but Allah' as though they had just won a strategic battle.
"Not one of them felt pity for her, not one of them lifted a finger to help her, and not one of them [even tries to] speak in her defense. They were like the stones they hurled at her – frozen and devoid of all compassion."
In the Middle East, the Life of a Woman Is Worth Far Less than That of an Animal
"Had Du'a been an animal, someone would have [probably] taken notice and tried to rescue her from these inhuman men. But she was a woman, and in the Greater Filthy East, the life of a woman is worth far less than the life of an animal.
"According to the norms of the East, [the concept of] 'honor' relates only to the behavior of women. Women have become easy prey for men, who murder them in order to restore their threatened sense of honor.
"Du'a is a victim of both men and women – she is a victim of her entire society. In a region that fosters its mens' hostility until it becomes a raging demon, [men come to] feel that the women in their family are their property, to be treated any way they want.
"[This mentality is common among all Middle Eastern] men – Muslim and non-Muslim, Arab and non-Arab, rich and poor, educated and ignorant, great and small, those living in the West and those who have remained in their homelands – as long as they were raised in this region... that is riddled with the disease of 'honor,' or are of [Middle Eastern] origin. [All these men] have the potential to turn into raging beasts, especially if they were raised [to believe that] a woman's body and [her behavior] in her private life have a [direct] bearing on their honor and on the honor of their family, clan, nation, sect and all their ancestors throughout the ages.
"All those who believe that honor [resides] in the woman's body are potential murderers, and [could] someday murder a woman when their false sense of honor is aroused. All those who agree that a man has the right to murder a woman, or to cause her physical harm [for the sake of preserving] his honor, are potential killers."
The Women of the Middle East Raise Their Own Executioners
"Those who believe that men have more rights than women, and raise their children to believe the same, are raising [more] men who will kill another Du'a in some other place. All those who believe that they have the right to hit a woman in order to 'educate' her or 'correct her ways' might be involved in the murder or harming of a woman.
"Any legislator who passes a law dealing leniently with 'honor killings' is just as culpable as those who actively participated in the murder of the victims – [just as culpable as] the murderers who have the blood of Du'a and of other women on their hands.
"All governments that discriminate between men and women in rights and duties, that shelter the perpetrators of 'honor killings,' and that give men either partial or complete control over women's lives... collaborate with the perpetrators of these despicable crimes...
"On the anniversary of the death of the innocent Iraqi girl Du'a Khalil Al-Aswad, murdered in cold blood and in heinous male ferocity in front of eye witnesses, I say to the women of the Greater Filthy East: 'Good for you for managing to raise beasts who delight in harming you and in shedding your blood and the blood of your daughters.' [And] good for the countries and governments that attribute more importance to the lives of animals than to your lives and the lives of your daughters.
"Good for you for defending your beastly men and supporting them on political [issues]. Good for you for supporting their failing movements and wars, and their hostile thinking that allows [them] to humiliate and beat you.
"Good for you for creating your own executioners, and for supporting and aiding them. You know full well that many of them regard you as worthless beings existing [solely] for their pleasure.
"Good for you for [tolerating] these inhuman men, many of whom yearn to drink your blood and the blood of your daughters whenever the drums of revenge and 'honor' start beating in their rotting and petrified brains."