As Kathryn noted, Afshan Azad, the lovely and graceful actress who appears in four of the Harry Potter movies, has, in real life, been threatened with death and allegedly attacked by her father and brother. Her sin? She is a British Muslim of Bangladeshi origin who stands accused of dating a Hindu man. Yes, this alone is a capital crime in Islam.
My 2009 and 2010 studies in Middle East Quarterly have shown that “honor killings” are all too real and on the rise. Women have been honor-killed for refusing to veil themselves, marry their first cousins, or remain in dangerously abusive marriages, for wanting to choose their own husbands, and for behaving in “western” ways.
While Hindus and Sikhs do, to a much lesser extent, honor-kill their women, in Europe 96 percent of honor killings in the last 20 years were Muslim-on-Muslim. The average age of European women who were honor-murdered was 21; 66 percent were honor-murdered by their family of origin; 44 percent were murdered by multiple perpetrators; 68 percent were gruesomely tortured. Nearly half of these women lived in England.
While the British police are exceptionally sensitive to this problem and have helped potential honor-killing victims, the problem is vast and growing. Afshan Azad now needs to be in hiding and protected, on a permanent basis, from her own family. Perhaps she and her actor friends could lead a campaign against honor killings. I would be honored to join them.
– Phyllis Chesler is the author of 13 books, including Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman and The New Anti-Semitism. She blogs at Pajamas Media and Newsrealblog and can be reached through her website, where many of her articles about Islamic gender apartheid and honor killing can be found.