As an American, the concept of honor killings seems very far away to me. However, it’s coming into the forefront as Fox News is reporting that the shootings of two Texas teenagers by their father in 2008 falls under that category. Despite Fox’s readiness to condemn Muslims out of hand, though, I think it’s worthwhile to look at the bigger picture, which the possibility of “honor killings” is just one part of.
On New Year’s Day 2008, two Texas teenagers Amina and Sarah Said were shot dead, their bloodied bodies left in a taxi cab. The alleged shooter: their father Yaser Said.
In fact, Sarah appears to identify her Dad as the murderer in a 9-11 call – her dying words.
For more than two years the Fox News Reporting team has been following this story and the search for Yaser Said, who vanished the night of the murders.
Yeah, Said seems like a real gem. He married the girls’ mother Patricia when she was just fifteen, and their marriage was allegedly fraught with horribly violent abuse.
As if that isn’t creepy enough, he had an obsession with his video camera … and began secretly taping his daughters’ every moves as their status as American teenagers—and what that entails—became clear. He taped them walking the dog, on their computers, and getting into and out of the car. The sexual overtones are pretty hard to miss, such as zooming in on specific features and obsessing–vocally–over how pretty the girls are.
As is perhaps the most disturbing part of video footage obtained by Fox News. Basically, Said and a friend pretty much stalked his daughter Sarah while she was at work, noting that she was smiling too much and opening up conversations with customers. It’s obvious from comments caught on Said’s own video that Sarah is in big trouble.
Amina Said, who was with the two men, stood up for sister, explaining that being friendly and engaging in conversations with customers was part of Sarah’s job. Finally, Amina clearly becomes frustrated and makes a statement that’s absolutely chilling in light of what ended up happening to herself and her sister:
“Can we go, guys? I’m kind of tired. We can spy on Sarah another day.”
In any case like this, the obvious question is, “Why?” Much has been made over the fact that Yaser Said, originally from Egypt although he’s lived in the U.S. for nearly thirty years, is a Muslim.
If Yaser Said killed his daughters, what was his motive? His American wife Tissy claims he did so because their girls were dating boys that weren’t Muslim.
While friends and family call the murders honor killings, it’s a label the FBI and local police have been hesitant to use.
In fact, 8 months after the deaths of Amina and Sarah the FBI added the words “honor killing” to their wanted poster but days later, removed them.
It is definitely possible that Said’s double murder of his two lovely daughters was an “honor killing” in his eyes. If his current wife is to be believed, he was pretty ripshit at their non-Muslim romantic entanglements. If this is the case, it’s important that American authorities figure out a way to address the concept of honor killings in this country … and of course to prevent them.
This situation bears obvious similarities to Noor Faleh Almaleki, who died following injuries sustained in an attack by her father (he evidently mowed her down with a car after becoming perturbed at her resistance to his rules). This was a terrible tragedy that raised the issue of honor killings in America, but there seems to be a difference here between the intent behind Arizona father Faleh Hassan Almaleki and Yaser Said. Both crimes are unspeakably awful, but it’s impossible not to notice a potentially important distinction.
In the case of Yaser Said, I can’t help feeling like “honor killings” is perhaps being used as a convenient excuse for a perhaps even darker–and far more common–evil. If honor killings fly beneath the radar screen of many Americans, couldn’t the same be true for incest?
And there is no question that Yasef Said was looking at Amina and Sarah with more than just a paternal eye.
Given the mindset toward Muslims in this country, ranging from crazy religious groups to the inimitable Sarah Palin, is it any surprise that “honor killing” is the obvious quick-blame reaction? The fact that something was rotten in the state of Denmark, something that was so horrible that allowing two deaths to be blamed on a different reason rather than explore an arguably darker possibility, is backed up by the removal of the words “honor killings” on Said’s FBI wanted poster.
And just to be very clear, I’m not dismissing the possibility of the deaths of poor Amina and Sarah as potential honor killings. This is just a case where there are many dark and twisted strands making up a truly tragic story, and I wonder if writing these murders off with a knee jerk reaction that makes it easier to comprehend the motives behind a crime so unfathomable is doing a disservice to the memories of these girls.
It’s simpler for Americans to hear about “those crazy Muslim honor killings” because it allows the blame to be placed on an ideology we have been taught for nearly ten years is evil, foreign, and backwards.
Anyway, Yaser Said is still on the loose. It is my hope that he will be found and consequenced posthaste—for whatever reason, he killed his daughters.
And that’s really the bottom line of this tragic story.