Unite Against Fanatics

The recent death by stoning of 17-year-old Duaa Khalil Aswad in a Northern Iraqi town is yet another reminder of the barbarism and savagery endemic to religious fanaticism.
On April 7, the girl was ambushed by a mob of men thirsty for her blood, after they discovered she was in love with a Sunni boy from a neighboring village. While affirming their faith in God, they hurled bricks and stones at her as she lay pleading for her life.
Such self-righteous piety, often mindless of its own inhumanity is nonetheless ever ready to condemn perceived moral infractions in the most vicious and brutal manner. Regrettably, such hypocrisy pervades many fanatical societies today.
Being a Yazidi girl, in the eyes of the fanatics, Duaa committed not one but two crimes, first by daring to love in the first place and second, to do so among "enemies," thus incurring the wrath of her uncles and cousins who passed the death sentence against her.
The world came to know about the tragedy when jeering bystanders took pictures of the public humiliation and stoning of the ill-fortuned girl.
Yet such tragedies would not be confined to Iraq. Half a world away in France, Muslim women of marriageable age stand to suffer a similar fate upon being discovered to have engaged in premarital sex. Many are therefore demanding doctors perform hymenoplasties on them, a surgical procedure to restore hymens, lest they perish at the hands of their husbands, fathers or brothers. They would not dare ask these men if they too had engaged in such activity prior to marriage. This is blatant hypocrisy.
The incidence of honor killings of women has risen astronomically throughout the Islamic world with the rise of fundamentalism and its male-centered morality that often skews the sense of what is decent, compassionate and just. According to a United Nations report, such incidents numbered 40 in January and February of this year in Iraq alone.
There have been just four arrests in the stoning of this girl, which reportedly took place while police stood by. We have yet to hear an uproar from moderate segments of the Muslim world over such a brutal killing.
Moderate Muslims across the world must unite against the inhumanity that was Duaa's public stoning. They must raise their voices loud and clear against the atrocities committed in the name of their faith. No one should be able to kill with impunity.
It is the lack of redress for such criminal actions in Muslim countries, coupled with the deafening silence of moderate Muslims that tarnishes the image of Islam beyond repair.
Also puzzling is the stance of western feminists and liberals who espouse equal rights for all, but shy away from denouncing the oppression of Muslim women. In support of pluralism and multiculturalism they are willing to allow subcultures to flourish, often forgetting the marginalization and oppression that persists within them.
It is only in the breaking of these silos that the cause of liberalism and social justice can be truly advanced. Moderate Muslims and western liberals must unite to obliterate the scourge of honor killings from Muslim countries, as well as other Eastern cultures.


[Farzana Hassan-Shahid is President of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Freelance writer, public speaker and author of  "Prophecy and the Fundamentalist Quest" and host of the radio program Islam: Faith and Culture.]