ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The crime drips with brutal irony: a woman decapitated, allegedly by her estranged husband, in the offices of the television network the couple founded with the hope of countering Muslim stereotypes.
Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan is accused of beheading his wife last week, days after she filed for divorce. Authorities have not discussed the role religion or culture might have played, but the slaying gave rise to speculation that it was the sort of “honor killing” more common in countries half a world away, including the couple’s native Pakistan.
While investigators are still trying to figure out if this horrific incident was just an act of “domestic violence”, those who work for women’s rights see this crime as something more:
The New York president of the National Organization for Women, Marcia Pappas, condemned prosecutors for referring to the death as an apparent case of domestic violence.
“This was, apparently, a terroristic version of ‘honor killing,’” a statement from NOW said.
Nadia Shahram, who teaches family law and Islam at the University at Buffalo Law School, explained honor killing as a practice still accepted among fanatical Muslim men who feel betrayed by their wives.
“If a woman breaks the law which the husband or father has placed for the wife or daughter, honor killing has been justified,” said Shahram, who was a regular panelist on a law show produced by Bridges TV. “It happens all the time. It’s been practiced in countries such as Pakistan and in India.”
Call it what you want, but it’s an act of gruesome murder. This is not Pakistan or India, and allowances and excuses are not given to those who break the law, period. Many who murder believe they are justified in the killing and that their immoral god is pleased. Most Christians here have learned that they cannot murder in the name of their sky boss or “tradition” and get away with it. Their god cannot save them from human justice.
Acquaintances said Mo Hassan was not overtly religious — co-workers did not see him pray, for instance. But he seemed to adhere to many traditional practices.
Nancy Sanders, the television station’s news director for 2 1/2 years, remembers him asking her to move her feet during her job interview so he would not see her legs. She was wearing a skirt and stockings.
He also would not let women enter his office unless his wife was there, and he blocked the station from airing a story about the first Muslim woman to win the title of Miss England in 2005, Sanders said.
Acquaintances said Aasiya Hassan was trained as an architect. Sanders described her as obedient to her husband, and that she wore a traditional hijab for a time but later stopped without explanation.
It seems like this poor woman was a victim of oppression and domestic violence and only wanted her freedom. Stories like this are unbelievably sad whether religion is involved or not, especially when innocent children are left without a mother and father.