Immigrant in NYC beats wife to death for making wrong dinner; argues that in his country, wife-beating is “customary”

May 28, 2014 • 8:22 am

Can you guess the man’s religion from the title above? Ten to one you can.

And you’re right! From the New York Post:

A Pakistani immigrant beat his wife to death in their Brooklyn home after she made the mistake of cooking him lentils for dinner instead of the hearty meal of goat meat that he craved, according to court papers.

Noor Hussain, 75, was so outraged over the vegetarian fare that he pummeled his wife, Nazar Hussain, 66, with a stick until she was a “bloody mess,” according to prosecutors and court papers.

“Defendant asked [his wife] to cook goat and [his wife] said she made something else,” the court papers indicated as Hussain’s murder trial opened on Wednesday.

“The conversation got louder and [his wife] disrespected defendant by cursing at defendant and saying motherf- -ker, and . . . defendant took a wooden stick and hit her with it on her arm and mouth.”

Defense attorney Julie Clark admitted Hussain beat his wife — but argued that he is guilty of only manslaughter because he didn’t intend to kill her. In Pakistan, Clark said, beating one’s wife is customary.

“He comes from a culture where he thinks this is appropriate conduct, where he can hit his wife,” Clark said in her opening statements at the Brooklyn Supreme Court bench trial. “He culturally believed he had the right to hit his wife and discipline his wife.”

Mr. Hussain will have to learn the hard way that he’s not in Pakistan any more. Another woman dead, and this time I blame Islam, which in many Muslim countries (including Pakistan) marginalizes women to the extent that beating them up is considered “appropriate.” The distinction between anti-female culture and anti-female religion is nonexistent there.

The details:

Madni said that Hussain “brutally attacked his wife as she lay in her bed” — leaving deep lacerations on her head, arms and shoulders, and causing her brain to hemorrhage.

He beat her with a stick that the family had found in the street and used to stir their laundry in a washtub, the court papers state.

He then tried to clean up the blood that had splattered onto their bedroom wall before calling his son for help, Madni said.

She died—horribly—for serving lentils instead of goat. What a screwed-up culture!

And the inevitable defense, in a comment from the Daily Mail‘s version of the story:

Picture 1

Note that the reader’s definition of “True Muslims” is tautological: they’re Muslims who are good people.

h/t: Chris

97 thoughts on “Immigrant in NYC beats wife to death for making wrong dinner; argues that in his country, wife-beating is “customary”

  1. “The distinction between anti-female culture and anti-female religion is nonexistent there.”

    Exactly so.

  2. How could we women have won the right to higher education in this country, have moved into professions that kept us out for so many years, only to offer defenses for wife beaters?

    I understand your outrage, Jerry, but I think the cold medicine is getting to you. It was, after all, a judge in Britain who came up with the ruling that a man could beat his wife with a stick no bigger than his thumb. (unless this is apocryphal) Our own culture is not immune to similar ideas–there are after all still judges on the bench who believe that women provoke their own rapes by their choice of clothing. To suggest that everyone in Pakistan accepts that wife beating is normal is painting with an overly broad brush.

      1. LIZA: I read the Koran and I’ve read 3 different editions all translated of course – to see what is similar. In it, it states that a Muslim cannot have a friend who is an “infidel”…When teaching English as a Volunteer, I asked a veiled woman about this and she said it was true.?????

      2. He didn’t say that, but I still find these Pew Research findings eye-opening and chilling…

        “Pakistanis overwhelmingly favor stoning people who commit adultery (83%), and comparable percentages favor punishments like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery (80%), and the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion (78%). Support for strict punishments is equally widespread among men and women, old and young, and the educated and uneducated.”

        https://twitter.com/mirandachale/status/471596110788964352

    1. “To suggest that everyone in Pakistan accepts that wife beating is normal is painting with an overly broad brush.”

      Seriously, how could you possibly get that from Jerry’s post?

    2. It was, after all, a judge in Britain who came up with the ruling that a man could beat his wife with a stick no bigger than his thumb. (unless this is apocryphal)

      Which it is!

    3. AKS, I didn’t suggest that, as you imply. The defense offered the “wife beating is customary” statement as a stupid defense of the murder.

      And, frankly, I’m sick of the “we do it too” defense that you raise. No judge in this country would let somebody off for murdering their wife for serving lentils instead of goat. Do you really see no difference between U.S. culture and the subset of Pakistani/Muslim culture that condones vicious wife-beating? Do you really think that, at present, a man in Britain who beats his wife with a thin stick would go scot-free? The rest of the world (unlike much of Pakistan) has become enlightened, for the death-grip of Islam is a barrier to enlightenment.

      Now, do you want to apologize for misrepresenting me, or would you rather go elsewhere?

      1. “Do you want to apologize for misrepresenting me, or would you rather go elsewhere?”

        Best thing on the internet today.

        1. I would like to apologize for misreading you, Jerry, when you wrote “Mr. Hussain will have to learn the hard way that he’s not in Pakistan any more.” I would, however, have appreciated being corrected in a gentler fashion.
          I’m not an apologist for religion, and have left other comments in the past that make that clear.
          I don’t want to go elsewhere: I’m a fellow atheist, a fellow cat lover, even, a fellow academic, and although not a scientist love the postings on species variation and adaptation. I have in the past felt happy to have found a home of fellow travelers. But I certainly don’t feel particularly welcome at the moment.

          1. Well, boo hoo! In my view, you were rude to say that Jerry’s cold medicine was getting to him. You so deserve that slapdown. No gentle correction for you.

          2. Misunderstandings happen, especially on touchy issues. You’re still welcome here, I’m sure.

    4. I believe it’s aprocryphal, but even if it wasn’t, it’s a lousy example. Blackstone was citing that story as an example of ancient and barbaric laws that existed in the 1500s or early 1600s…and he was using it as a negative example of what not to do in the 1700s.

      So your “judge in Britain” is from the 1500s, and he was already being used as an example of misogyny that no decent person ought to support in the 1700s.

      If it makes you feel like we’re being more even-handed, I am willing to concede that we have little right to point fingers at 16th century muslim wife-beaters.

    5. “a judge in Britain who came up with the ruling that a man could beat his wife with a stick no bigger than his thumb.”

      This apparently occurred in 1782, if it occurred at all, according to Wikipedia.

    6. Rule of thumb is actually not that. That is a misconception. Also, that doesn’t happen now because people pointed out that wife beating and other violence is bad. That is what this post does.

    7. The qualification regarding stick size being no wider than a thumb comes out of the Koran, not from a judge.

  3. He beat her with a stick that the family had found in the street and used to stir their laundry in a washtub, …

    A washtub? Is Brooklyn backward? The blessings of washing machines and laundries …

    1. Even having a laundromat on my block I still had a washtub that I used for delicates, personal wear and non-machine washables when I was living in Brooklyn. It was probably smaller though (I just stirred it with my arms).

      1. I just didn’t buy delicates, non-machine washables etc. Simpler in the long run.

  4. A horrible story.

    Maybe not Islam per se, but with unreformed ignorance that we here in the west have only recently started to get over.

    Having known 1st generation Pakistani immigrants (including at least one woman who had an arranged marriage) I’m aware how “tradition”, “family honour” and “religion” make a toxic combination.

    1. I’m not defending Islam here, by the way, I’m just trying to make the point that it’s only one part of the problem.

  5. How long had he been in our country? Did nothing about our American values make an impact on him? (Probably only the values about making money.) We need to revise our immigration laws to limit these kind of nutbags coming here. I don’t care whose relatives they are. France’s and UK’s liberal immigration policies are coming home to roost, where enclaves of Muslims are clamoring for Sharia law. I would much rather grant legal status to a million Mexicans than one of these religious morons.

    1. Some people are very slow learners when immersed in a new culture, for reasons of isolation due to temperament or such things as specific language deficit or untreated partial deafness. The murder victim had apparently assimilated to a greater extent, to judge by the reported vocabulary (“motherf–ker”).
      “We need to revise our immigration laws…” is the perpetual cry of National Front-type loony rightists; do you feel comfortable with that association? Among a million Mexicans, how many religious morons would you predict? (clue: it’s statistics) – or are Muslims really a million times worse than Catholics?

  6. The first thing that occurs to me when hearing this “it isn’t religion, it is culture” trope is that religion is an important part and aspect of culture. And even if somehow seen as distinct, they still heavily borrow from each other; Bolivian Catholicism is very different from its Italian counterpart, and rural Pakistani Islam is presumably very different from its Indonesian counterpart. Consequently there does not appear to be a contradiction involved between “it is culture” and “it is religion” unless the latter is defined so narrowly as to be meaningless.

    Another question would be what other aspect of culture, if not religion, is supposed to be responsible for these tragedies. The language? The food? Dances? Traditional clothing? That is all culture but somehow I cannot imagine that it has anything to do with violence.

    1. The food? No. The clothing, yes, at least in part. To the extent that clothing protocols marginalize and dehumanize women, then they are involved in providing the context and justification for violence.

    2. Yeah. The distinction so many make between culture and religion is a false one. Religion is an aspect of culture. No matter how special people might want religion to be, it isn’t.

      Insisting on such a distinction between culture and religion is just a slightly less direct method of committing a “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

    3. Consequently there does not appear to be a contradiction involved between “it is culture” and “it is religion” unless the latter is defined so narrowly as to be meaningless.

      They aren’t mutually exclusive but the difference could be important in terms of how you fix it, or what you think an effective fix will be. If you think its overwhelmingly religious, then it would follow that what we ought to try is convertinng these folks to atheism. The “its religious” hypothesis would predict that once they go atheist, their cultural mores and attitudes towards women will then change rapidly on their own, like dominoes falling in line. OTOH if you think its predominantly cultural, the proper strategy is to change these folks’ mores and attitudes towards women. The ‘its cultural’ hypothesis would predict that once those attitudes change, their religious beliefs will then change rapidly on their own.

      So, both may play a part. But what you think about the role of religion can impact the steps you think may be most effective at stopping domestic violence. And if you pick the wrong strategy, you are likely to stop less violence than you would if you had picked the right strategy. So in that respect, it really matters quite a bit whether we are right or wrong about the ‘its religion’ hypothesis.

      This is why I, personally, am wary about putting too much emphasis on religion. Just my opinion but I think the “change culture and religion will fall in line” is probably a far more effective strategy for stopping domestic violence than “change religion and culture will fall in line.”

      1. I agree with this, though I think the emphasis is on changing both. Culture & religion is not a monolithic indivisible block. The great things about South Asian culture don’t depend on the terrible valuation of women. As in all things, work towards reducing the harm and the negative, while encouraging the positive.

      2. It is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Obviously the religion was produced by bronze aged cultural views condoning misogyny. But to label it as “culture” centuries later is really just avoiding the issue. The religion is so ingrained in the culture in some of these countries that they’re really inseparable, especially in theocracies where there is little other cultural influence of any kind.

        The “it’s his culture” trope speaks to our liberal media’s refusal in many cases to call out religious atrocities for what they are and at the same time support multiculturalism at all costs. Fear of being xenophobic or misogynistic, or even appearing that way, has driven too many in our Western society to accept anything so long as it is “culture.” The fact that this acceptance is even greater in cases like this where we often have an attitude that the woman chose to be there so we should stay out of it is even more cowardly.

        It is a truly puzzling predicament when the only organizations who call out this behavior are often the likes of Fox News.

        1. I think the issue of wife abuse in/around Pakistan may not be the best example of your claim. It clearly IS separable (from Islam), because I believe it’s endemic among Hindus on the subcontinent, too. If some practice cuts across many religions in the same area (Lahore), while being largely absent from those same religions in a different area (Los Angeles), then the conclusion should be obvious: the practice has to do with the social and cultural aspects of that area, not Islam or Hinduism per se.

          Though I agree with you that “it’s culture” is often used as an excuse for non-judgement. We should not be afraid to speak out against those aspects of other cultures we find abhorrent. Maybe even more importantly than speaking against, however, is showing the women in those areas – through our media and other cultural exports – that it doesn’t have to be this way. That their oppression isn’t necessary for a happy family or rule of law or a stable society. There’s a good analogy to the same sex marriage debate here. Its somewhat pointless to get into a “it’s wrong! it’s right!” debate with some anti-SSMer. You generally won’t get anywhere. A far more powerful argument in favor is “lots of places have accepted it, and none of your doom and gloom prophesies about how it’s going to be horrible for society have come true. The emprical evidence is againts you – everything is fine.” That same argument can be used to attack misogyny in other cultures: India, Pakistan, you can get rid of it and nothing bad will happen, and we know this because we’ve actually done it (to a great but incomplete extent), and the result is not chaos.

    4. Culture and religion are hopelessly intertwined. A Muslim beats his wife because Allah commands him to. He can’t defy Allah because his community would exile him. His community would exile him because the Quran forbids apostasy. The culture is a prison, and religion is the bars.

    5. “Another question would be what other aspect of culture, if not religion, is supposed to be responsible for these tragedies. The language? The food? Dances? Traditional clothing? That is all culture but somehow I cannot imagine that it has anything to do with violence.”

      I may be pointing out the obvious here, but I think it is a bit simplistic to speak of determinants of culture in this way. Factors that influence a culture go far beyond religion and those things you mention (some of which are arguably not “culture” per se, but manifestations of it). There is always history, deeply rooted customs and usages, and geography, just to name some of the more important factors that play a major role in shaping culture. Religion is important, but not necessarily more important than these other factors.

      1. I would say you are right that religion is not necessarily more important, but then there’s passages like this:

        “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” Qur’an 4:34

        So, you know, don’t beat your wife unless she cooks the wrong meal or something. When you have a culture heavily influenced by religion and multiple verses like the one above, it’s pretty likely that this is a driving factor. This isn’t exactly the type of culture one would see at say a Polynesian luau in Hawaii.

  7. I would point out that American evangelical Christians have written many books on how good Christian men should discipline their children and wife.

    They call it domestic discipline.

    Of course they claim the bible as inspiration and justification.

    Let’s face the facts. Here in the USA lots of women are murdered by their sociopathic husband. All for absurd, ridiculous reasons.
    There is no good reason to beat your wife.

    Many of the murderers are Christian and I’m sure many of them feel it’s their right to beat their wife. The big difference is they don’t claim that right in court. They claim it in prison when they are telling their bunk mate how they got unfairly convicted. I doubt a lawyer has tried the bible excuse for three decades at least. Which itself is pretty sad. It wasn’t that long ago when in many areas in the US it wasn’t a crime to beat your wife. It was considered your personal business and nobody said a thing.

    1. Sorry but I need to step in here. Your paint brush must have slipped. No where in Christian scripture is there any justification of mistreating your wife. In fact it is only because of historical Christian teaching that the place of women was elevated in society as a whole. Islam will never bring women to a place of respect since the Koran will never be rewritten. Not to mention, Christian means follower of Christ ( no murder here ). You seem to have a bone to pick with Christians.

        1. Good references. I notice women don’t get beat for speaking in church like I thought but they do get stoned for sexual things and killed as witches etc.

          1. You silly people. Darren meant that nowhere in TRUE Christian scripture…

            You guys are confusing the important parts with the metaphors again. Typical atheists, always reading the bible for the words that are in it.

      1. Hmmmm, something doesn’t smell right here. I’m pretty sure even if a woman does that bold thing & speak in church she is allowed to get the beats.

  8. How long had he been in our country? Did nothing about our American values make an impact on him? (

    Perhaps if we valued the human rights of women more than the right to express misogynistic religious practices, he would have gotten the message. Perhaps if the Islamic religious veiling of women was not allowed in public, he might have had reason to get a clue.

    We outlawed slavery – we didn’t make it voluntary, or a matter of legitimate cultural expression.

    We don’t allow most forms of discrimination against homosexuals, despite the fact that many claim it is part of their religious freedom to do so.

    If we truly stood by a code of universal human rights, religious expression, if it is misogynistic, would not be allowed.

    1. We have outlawed violence against women. What he did was clearly against the law, and he knew it, because he tried to cover it up afterwards.

      So, what you’ve got here is a guy that from his actions clearly got the message that murder is not tolerated, is wrong, and is punished. And you think that he’s going to get that message some quantum amount better if we would only criminalize nasty expression?

      1. We have not outlawed violence against women – only against people in general.

        We still allow violence against women when we protect it on the grounds of religious freedom. When women are living in a culture where their husbands can beat them for any reason because they have the religiously-inspired moral authority to do so, and these women do not go to authorities because their religious sensibilities deny it, then we have allowed violence against women.

        When we allow Sharia or Jewish courts to settle issues instead of our common courts, we allow violence against women. When burkas are allowed in public, we allow violence against women, because it means they do not have the same human rights we secure for other members of our society.

        This guy you say got the message, also got the message that his dominance over women, the right to beat his wife, his very right to misogyny was acceptable by our society because it was a protected religious freedom. And he was right – it IS protected, because when it comes to women, universal human rights are still subservient to religious freedom. I am not OK with that – perhaps you are?

            1. I think the problem was/is that certain men cannot stand the idea that women would decide about having children or not. This explains all the crazy anti-women antics of the Abrahamic religions, such as the murderous opposition (in the past, I hope) of the Catholic popes against the use of condoms in Africa to control Aids, which has resulted in I can’t fathom how many thousands of deaths that could have been prevented.

        1. “We have not outlawed violence against women – only against people in general.”

          Women are not people?

        2. I don’t know where you are writing from (though I guess the UK from your name), but I find it hard to believe that wherever it is, wife beating is legally protected. Are you really saying that where you live beating your wife is not illegal?

        3. How exactly does putting him on trial for murder convey to him that “his very right to misogyny was acceptable by our society because it was a protected religious freedom” ???

          Seems to me that putting him on trial for murder is exactly what we should do to show its not acceptable and that his conduct is not protected.

          I mean, what else do you want us to do to him to convey that it’s unacceptable? Kill him without a trial?

          “when it comes to women, universal human rights are still subservient to religious freedom. I am not OK with that – perhaps you are?”

          I am not okay with it. But I do not think you have accurately described the US legal code, or our legal response to his actions. It is not legal (here) to beat women no matter what your religion says, so on this matter women’s rights are not “still subservient to religious freedom.” Subservient would be: “we cannot or will not prosecute you because it was a religious act.” That is simply not what happened here.

        4. I have some issues with the framing of your comment.

          “We have not outlawed violence against women – only against people in general. ”

          Which is exactly how it should be. Rights should not be tied to characteristics of the victim.

          “and these women do not go to authorities because their religious sensibilities deny it, then we have allowed violence against women.”

          In those cases, ‘we’ have not allowed violence, the people involved have allowed violence. Victims have some responsibility for themselves, indeed the government cannot, should not be constantly sticking its nose into private lives just to see what people are doing. But in general this is a straw man argument because the interpretation of domestic violence law is fairly strict. One call to the police from a neighbor WILL start legal action (I myself have made that call once, and in that case, like MANY others, this was not a religiously related assault) You can try to claim cultural exemption, that does not mean you get it.

          I’m not sure where you’re from but in US there are no religious courts to settle legal assault questions.

          We have the laws that are needed, and we have plenty of judges who will enforce those laws. But there will always be plenty of violators (more men than women are killed by other men–that continues, law or no law).

  9. Perhaps our immigration policy should be changed to allow only women and girls from Pakistan into the country

  10. Well, at least she won’t be making lentils for him again. I wonder if they serve either lentils or goat in prison? I guess he’ll some find out.

  11. “He CULTURALLY believed….” Keep a close eye on that catchphrase; we’re going to be hearing it more as a defense as time goes on….the implication is that rational thinking need no longer be considered; we are driven by our culture, and therefore not responsible for our own actions. I find it extremely hard to believe that this man didn’t know that assault was illegal in the U.S.

    1. Given that he tried to cover up his actions, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that he knew it was illegal. Still, the defense lawyer has to mount some sort of defense; just because he picks this defense doesn’t necessarily mean he thinks its viable or a legitimate excuse. It could just mean it was (in the lawyer’s opinion) the least worst defense option.

  12. Just as someone may be ‘No True Scotsman,” religious apologists on this thread say that Noor Hussian is no true Muslim. Is he not?

    1. I’ve just read all 35 current comments, and as far as I can tell, there is nobody on this thread who has said that. To whom are you referring?

  13. No judge in this country would let somebody off for murdering their wife for serving lentils instead of goat.

    IANAL but I thought that the jury made that decision. If the defence attorney can get one or two devout muslims on the jury then they could claim that they can’t go against the will of Allah which is that lentils is no substitute for goat.

  14. This next is not politically correct. I beg all y’alls pardon. Sort of.

    I will, for free, and for however long it takes–years, if called for, teach any woman who has the interest and willingness to learn, to practice, and to apply herself, the ability to immobilize, to maim, to kill with her bare hands any and all who would lay their hands upon her, not in a good way. For free. For as long as it takes.

    She didn’t make the meal he wanted, and he beat her and killed her? He DIES.

    It’s really enough. More than enough. I can’t take it anymore.

    1. Some colleges now encourage women to take self-defense classes; sometimes their security personnel even teach them. That’s a good thing, BUT…

      When you take your daughter to orientation and these are the things that come up, it breaks your heart. Even the most sympathetic men (gawd love ’em) have no fucking idea how demoralizing it can be to be a woman in any culture.

      Still, some are blatantly better than others; screw the “matter of degree” responses to the most horrific examples of misogyny.

      1. Yes, I’ve found myself dismayed over the last few days about misogyny. I’m sure my male friends and my dad are as outraged as I am because they know me and other females and they see first hand how heart breaking it can be.

        I am thankful for living in this time and place and when my friends wished they could’ve lived in Victorian times, I couldn’t understand it – wearing corsets, dying early. blech! I wanted to live in the future when I figured we wouldn’t be such assholes toward one another for stupid reasons like if you are a male or female or have a certain skin colour or speak a certain language or just because someone told you you shouldn’t like that group of people. I’m thankful….but I’m sad and I’m just heart broken to hear of women that live in cultures that are so much worse than mine.

  15. USA standards for women’s spousal/partnership legal status have come some distance in a positive direction since the ’60’s, but I think our society remains far too closely linked to Iron Age mores. Mysoginism continues to permeate male attitudes, and perpetrators mostly are oblivious to it. Female religious adherents who subscribe to deity-dictated feminine submission do their gender tremendous disservice as well.

    As for self-defense against spousal abuse in America, the game is rigged big-time against women (excerpt below copied from link):

    http://www.news.illinois.edu/news/05/0815women.html


    ‘“The so-called ‘reasonable battered woman’ standard adopted by some courts is just a shorthand description for the conventional ‘reasonable person under the circumstances’ standard that courts apply in all self-defense cases,” she wrote. In addition, the courts can evaluate through expert witnesses the growing body of empirical work about domestic violence and the “battered women syndrome,” a term coined by psychologist Lenore Walker in 1979.

    Focusing on the self-defense standard’s “imminence” requirement, Kinports faults critics who argue that a woman who kills her partner while he is asleep cannot reasonably assert that she is in imminent danger. Kinports cites research finding that a woman sometimes can only realistically protect herself when the batterer is sleeping and, further, that leaving an abusive partner may subject her to even greater harm.

    “At least half of the women who leave their abusers are followed and harassed or further attacked by them,” she noted, citing figures indicating that the majority of men who kill their spouses do so after the couple has separated or divorced.

    Calling the police, as Dershowitz suggested, is frequently futile under real-world conditions, according to Kinports. “At least half of protective orders against an abusive spouse are violated at least once, and many are violated repeatedly. The police are still much more likely to arrest in a case involving stranger assault and are reluctant to arrest unless the abuser committed some independent crime.”

    Likewise, requesting a court protective order can be especially risky for mothers, because state authorities are increasingly bringing neglect proceedings against women whose children witness family violence or are themselves victims of abuse.

    A U.S. Department of Justice study in 2000 found that 85 percent of domestic assault cases involved men attacking women. The report estimated that 4.5 million male-on-female assaults take place yearly in the U.S, affecting 1.3 million women, resulting in an annual rate of 44.2 assaults per 1,000 women over the age of 17.’ …

  16. In India in the 1840s, the East India Company was trying to end the practice of sati or wife burning (the immolation of the widow on the husband’s funeral pyre). A delegation of Indian notables remonstrated with Sir Charles Napier, then Governor General, that it was their national custom. To this Napier replied:

    Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.

    1. I like that, but in the US today you’d have a faction of deeply confused liberals protesting that an imperialist, colonialist, patriarchal, privileged, (cis-gendered), white man should not be dictating morality to the oppressed brown people.

      1. Its kind of the response we have now (though obviously less capital). Law enforcement is not really designed to stop crime (and in this specific case, abuse). Instead what the law does is just what Napier promised to do – swoop in afterwards and punish the people who choose to “exercise their cultural beliefs” against the law.

    1. Bullshit.

      Look at a map of countries in the world where you can be killed for blasphemy. Consider which countries maintain legal homicide for “honor offenses”. Tell me which countries LEGALLY stone women to death for adultery. Now, what do you think the common dominator is?

      This is not confirmation bias. But, thanks nonetheless for the comment. You provide a fine example of the fallacy of false equivalence.

      1. He finds stories like these becaues that’s what he LOOKS for, and then provides them as proof of the behavior of Muslims in general. Not only is it confirmation bias, as he’s interpreting what evidence he has based on his preconceived ideas, but in the process he ignores other issues just as important.

        Just in Africa, 38 of the 53 nations criminalize homosexuality in some way. Many of those are non-Muslim countries with histories of British colonialism. Uganda itself formulated its ‘Kill the Gays’ bill with the help of three American Christians, and while I cannot remember the nation offhand, I seem to recall another Christian nation enacting a death penalty for homosexuality just a few weeks ago.

        Honor killings predate Islam, and have have been endemic to that part of the world. We see them even in non-Islamic nations, along with other horrific crimes against women, such as the periodic gang-rapes in India that keep coming into the news.

        Even here in the US, these actions, while technically illegal, are far too often winked and nudged out of the court system. You do remember the Steubenville rape case and its aftermath, correct? Or any of the other instances of reported rapes that authorities ignored, or even punished the victim for? We won’t even get into the ongoing disaster that was the Ohio State debacle.

        But back to my point. What I was trying to point out, and I admit I made it very poorly due to being pressed for time, was that Professor Coyne sees issues like the one he posted as purely due to Islam, when the evidence (the same thing happening in non-Islamic countries with similar culture) indicates that it is far more likely to be a cultural issue. Of course, I know full well neither you nor he will ever accept that, but sometimes I just have difficulty accepting that trying to change someone’s opinion is usually futile.

        Oh, and a little food for thought: It wasn’t all THAT long ago that the nations where you could be killed for blasphemy included all of Europe. That suggests to me that the problem isn’t Islam, but rather theocracies in general.

        1. Bullshit again.

          Are you new around here? Are you unaware of the many times that Christian religious horrors have been called out at this site?

        2. Are you really arguing that without Islam, these practices would exist? That without Islam, they would all be incorporated into another type of law that isn’t Islamic based Sharia Law?

          Closer examination of many so-called cultural practices reveals that they are dogmatically incorporated into religion and tyrannically enforced by religious leaders. Take the Islamic requirement for women to cover their heads and sometimes faces in veils or their entire selves in amorphous cloth sacks. Many have rightly pointed out that this practice pre-dates Islam, however Islam enforces this practice as a religious edict across the various cultures that subscribe to it. Consider this atrocious book once used (it may no longer be in use) to teach Muslim children in Ontario, Canada. It states:

          Islam helps to secure a females (sic) modesty by preserving her beauty with Hijab.

          Islam helps. Not culture helps. Islam. This is a religious practice. There is more:

          The importance of Hijab will be briefly discussed in the light of the verses of the Holy Qur’an on the subject. Allah says:
          “Say unto the believer men to cast down their gaze and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. Verily Allah is Well-Aware of what you do. And say unto the believing women that theycast down their gaze and guard their private parts; and not to display their adornment (Zeenat)except what becomes apparent of it; and to draw their headcovers (Khumur) over their neck slits(Juyoob); and not to display their “Zeenat” except to their husbands…

          Allah says. A politician does not say. A law does not say. The culture does not say. This is a religious practice. There is still more:

          …COVERING THE HEAD IS NOT THE SIGN OF DEGRADATION or oppression. It is a commandment from Allah…

          A commandment from Allah. Not a discretionary tradition Not a cultural instruction. This is a religious practice.

        3. What religions do is that they “freeze” into society moral attitudes that existed at the time of their creation. Of course, pernicious attitudes towards women existed before Islam, but Islam “legalised” these attitudes. Just like the Roman Catholic Church “legalised” or made into canon law many of the pernicious moral views that existed 2000 years ago; many of them first voiced by Plato. Plato argued for an “astral” religion for the educated upper class, but it was OK to lie to the hoi-polloi with religious nonsense to keep them in line, and it was OK to execute people opposing the popular religion.

        4. In this case he found the story because I was browsing the NY Post and happened upon it and sent it on to him. But I did not go looking for it, it was a headline in the news. And nothing here indicates that Professor Coyne says this is typical of all Muslims in general, but he has provided numerous evidence in the past that not only is stuff like this religiously motivated but actually condoned by a disturbingly large percentage of Muslims around the world.

          Your claims about other religions and other cultures supporting similar behavior have nothing to do with whether Islam, interpreted in a straightforward way, promotes this kind of behavior. Likewise the fact that there are also other motivating factors in other incidents doesn’t negate religion’s role.

          Question, is it confirmation bias if we say that the Boston Marathon bombers actied according to religious ideology or 9/11 was the result of religious zealots? Is the fact that the hijackers yelled “Allahu akbar!” as they took over the planes or that they yell this phrase as they behead infidels and stone women to death a cultural issue or a religious one? Is it confirmation bias to point out that multiple theocracies have death penalties on the books for thought crimes against Allah?

          1. I think you have hit the nail on the head Chris. The fact is, everyone has a religion and not all religions are created equal. To know if you are good at whatever religion you follow then you judge your life as compared to the religious head, i.e. Mohammed, Christ, Buddha, whatever. The fact is that Muslims that don’t represent Mohammed are not as good at practising Islam as those who do. So look at the life of Mohammed and you will answer many questions of what makes a good Muslim.

            1. “The fact is, everyone has a religion…”

              This is not a fact. I don’t have a religion. Lots of people don’t.

            2. Are you saying that those that religions are fashioned after are paragons of good behaviour? You do remember that Mohammed married a child, right? Or that Jesus “brought a sword” to set families against one another if they did not follow him?

            3. A religious person should be judged on her beliefs and actions since not all people in the same religion even come close to agreeing on what is right. But emulating Mohammed’s pedophilia or Jesus’s introduction of the threat of eternal damnation to name a couple aren’t ideals anyone should strive for.

              As for Christianity on a societal level, it’s not that there are not still nasty Christians who take very literally passages that allow for wife and child beating for example, it’s that modernity has largely siphoned out the better parts and secular influence has suppressed the worse parts.

              We no longer support witch burnings, but Exodus 22:8 hasn’t changed: “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.”

              We no longer support slavery but Leviticus 25:44-46 hasn’t changed: “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.”

              There are plenty more examples of things we as a society don’t approve of anymore, but indubitably there are some fringe Christian groups that still support them and what is clear as that there are passages in the Bible that can be used to justify it. Likewise, the Koran has passages that justify stonings and beatings; unfortunately much of the Muslim world still takes them all too seriously.

              1. Valerie Tarico (sp) feature with list of eleven, final one included:

                http://www.alternet.org/belief/11-kinds-bible-verses-christians-love-ignore?akid=11860.1920402.X1Tgwm&rd=1&src=newsletter997565&t=10&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

                11. Passages that are a waste of brain space and paper. Some years ago I worked on a website called Wisdom Commons, a library of timeless quotes and stories from many traditions. I had the idea that I would go through the Bible and pull out bits that were relevant, so I started reading.

                What I found was that most of the Bible was neither horrible nor inspiring. It was simply dull and irrelevant: long genealogies written by men obsessed with racial purity; archaic stories about ancient squabbles over real estate and women; arcane rituals aimed at pleasing a volatile deity; folk medicine practices involving mandrakes and dove’s blood; superstition that equated cleanliness with spiritual purity and misfortune with divine disfavor; outdated insider politics.

                On top of that, it was badly written, with some stories garbled and others repeated, though rarely in complete agreement about the facts. The Bible’s supposed author seemed like a psychological mess, and I found myself irritated. With a finite number of pages to set the course of human history, this was the best He could do?

                Thank God Bible-believing Christians don’t take the Good Book as seriously as they claim to.

  17. I can’t stand that people who think this way are allowed to come to this country and continue such vile practices! What’s almost as bad as the death of a woman for serving dinner is that the defense attorney is also a woman! What sane woman would willingly accept a case where the defendant ADMITS to beating his wife whenever he wants for whatever he wants!

  18. Wife-beating is sanctioned by Koran. This is the opinion of the majority of Muslims, though liberals do not believe so.

  19. I wonder whether there are any societal or cultural ‘absolutes’. Certainly the taking of another’s life under certain circumstances (eg self defence, or defence of another) is acceptable, theft (for example to feed a staving child) acceptable, rape? Does any culture have a justifiable argument suggesting rape is ever acceptable? Err.. I think that’s a yes.. Sadly. Sometimes these issues we like to attribute black and white characteristics to are anything but..

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