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Several cases of honor killing in the United States have been documented.


An article in the Spring 2009 edition of Middle East Quarterly argues that the United States is far behind Europe in acknowledging that honor killings are a special form of domestic violence, requiring special training and programs to protect the young Muslim women and girls most subject to it.[1] The article suggests that the fear of being labeled "culturally insensitive" prevents US government officials and the media from both identifying and accurately reporting these women's murders as "honor killings" when they occur.[1] Failing to accurately describe the problem makes it more difficult to develop public policies to address it.[1]


Noor Faleh Almaleki

Noor Faleh Almaleki, 20, was an Iraqi-American woman, whose father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, ran her over with a car in an apparent honor killing. On October 20, 2009, she was walking with her boyfriend's mother, Amal Khalaf, across a parking lot in Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, when her father ran over the two women with his Jeep.

The pair were walking across a suburban parking lot to go to a Mexican restaurant when Noor's father, Faleh, started the engine of his Jeep Grand Cherokee and attempt to ram the women with his car. As they started running, the Jeep hit them. Faleh ran over Noor several times with his Jeep, fracturing her face and spine. A witness called 911 and both women were escorted to the hospital. Noor Almaleki was comatose and Amal Khalaf's conditions were stable.[2]

Noor Almaleki died on November 2, 2009, due to her injuries. She was pronounced brain dead at around 7 a.m. Several hours later, her family requested that she be disconnected from life support. Her companion, Amal Khalaf, is expected to survive.[3]

County prosecutor Stephanie Low told a judge that Faleh Almaleki has admitted to committing the crime. "By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family," Low said. "This was an attempt at an honor killing."[3] Faleh stated to police and detectives that the reason he killed Noor was that she was "too Americanized" and that he didn't like it.[2]

After the attack, Falah Almaleki fled the country, crossing the Mexican border and leaving his car in Nogales, Mexico. He then took a flight from Mexico City to London, arriving at Gatwick Airport on October 25.[4] Police records indicated that the Almaleki family tried to help Falah Almaleki escape from prosecution.

Interviewed on arrival, Almaleki told UK Border Agency officers that he was planning to spend a week visiting cousins in Glasgow, but he was denied entry because he had only US$400 (£245) cash with him and his nominated sponsor in the UK was unemployed.[4]

Officers also discovered on questioning Almaleki that he lived in Arizona with his wife and seven children, but when they tried to organize his return to the US they were told that he was wanted for assault over the attack on his daughter.[4]

Almaleki was finally deported on October 30, 2009 and was taken to jail in Maricopa County, Arizona, to be held on charges of aggravated assault – charges that will now be upgraded. He is also charged with first degree murder and leaving the scene of a serious-injury accident. He has pleaded "not guilty" to all charges.[4][2]

Palestina Isa

Sixteen-year-old Palestina (Tina) Isa was murdered by her father, Zein Isa, with the aid of her mother, Maria Isa, in 1989. The Isas were a family of Palestinian immigrants living in St. Louis, Missouri. After learning that Palestina had taken a part-time job without her parents' permission, and dated an African American, Maria held Palestina down, while Zein repeatedly stabbed her.[5]

Zein Isa was a member of the Abu Nidal Organization, which, at the time he murdered his daughter, was plotting to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.. A crucial factor in his trial was that the FBI had bugged Zein's house in connection with his suspected terrorist activities, and had recorded Palestina's murder on an audio cassette. This was especially important in confirming that Maria was an active participant in the murder, and that Zein's claim of self-defense was unwarranted.

On December 20, 1991[6] both Zein and Maria Isa were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. On April 1, 1993 Zein was indicted by the FBI in connection with his activities within Abu Nidal Organization, but the charges were dropped as he was already on death row.

Zein Isa died of diabetes on February 17, 1997. Maria's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without parole.

Sandeela Kanwal

In July 2008, New York Post writer John P. Avlon claimed that the murder of 25-year-old Sandeela Kanwal—allegedly by her father, Chaudhry Rashid—was an "American Honor Killing."[7] Rashid is said to have strangled Kanwal to death with a bungee cord after she tried to end her arranged marriage.

Amina and Sarah Said

Amina and Sarah Said were the children of Egyptian Yaser Abdul Said and American Patricia Tissie Owens Said. Both girls were born in Texas. Amina was born on March 2, 1989 and Sarah March 16, 1990. The girls were found shot to death in a taxi at the Omni Mandalay Hotel, in Irving, Texas, January 1, 2008. Both girls had left their home in Lewisville, Texas earlier that evening, with their father Yaser Said. At 7:33 pm CT a call came in to the Irving Police Department’s 911 call center. The call was from Sarah Said. She had been shot 9 times and told the operator “My Dad shot me and my sister, I’m dying!” Their mother, Patricia Said, claims both girls were killed for having boyfriends. Death threats had been made by Yaser against the girls. They ran away and were safe, but their mother brought them back. Yaser Said is still at large and at present time there is a $10,000 reward for his capture.[8] Said has been featured on America's Most Wanted and a Fox News special about honor killings in America.[9]

Aasiya Hassan Zubair

On February 12, 2009, Aasiya Zubair was found dead at the television station where she worked for Bridges TV, apparently beheaded. Her estranged husband Muzzammil Hassan reported her death to police and was charged with 2nd degree murder.[10]

The case has been characterized by some as an honor killing.[11][12] Marcia Pappas, New York State president of the National Organization for Women told the Buffalo News: "This was apparently a terroristic version of honor killing, a murder rooted in cultural notions about women’s subordination to men.”[13] It has also been stated that Muzzammil was not a practicing Muslim and that labelling the murder an "honor killing" is unfair. Nancy Sanders, the television station's news director for over two years, said "I just do not feel it was an honor killing. I think it was domestic abuse that got out of control."[14]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Chesler, Phyllis (Spring 2009). Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?. Middle East Quarterly. pp. 61–69.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pesta, Abigail. An American Honor Killing. Marie Claire. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Associated Press (November 3, 2009). "Woman who police say was run over by her father dies". Los Angeles Times.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Naughton, Philippe (November 3, 2009). "Father fled to Britain after running down daughter Template:Sic US 'honour killing'". The Times.
  5. Smith, Erika Lyn. "Tina Isa America's Honor Killing". Bella Online. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  6. "Missouri Couple Sentenced to Die In Murder of Their Daughter, 16". The New York Times. December 20, 1991.
  7. Avalon, John P. (July 23, 2008). "An American 'Honor Killing'". The New York Post.
  8. Whitley, Glenna (June 19, 2008). "American Girls". Dallas Observer.
  9. {{cite news|last=Gillet|first=Bud/url=
  10. Robbins, Liz (February 18, 2009). "Upstate Man Charged With Beheading His Estranged Wife". The New York Times.
  11. Williams, Fred O. (February 17, 2009). "Muslim TV mogul Muzzammil Hassan's alleged beheading of wife, Aasiya Hassan, may be 'honor killing'". The Buffalo News.
  12. Chesler, Phyllis (July 12, 2010). "Are Some Honor Killings More Equal Than Others?". Fox News.
  13. Williams, Fred O. (February 13, 2010). "Possibility of 'honor killing' mulled in Orchard Park slaying; Estranged husband charged with murder". The Buffalo News.
  14. Thompson, Carolyn (February 17, 2009). "Muzzammil Hassan: Muslim TV Exec Accused Of Beheading Wife In NY May Have Committed "Honor Killing"". The Huffington Post.

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