Last Thursday, Fox News Detroit aired a revealing segment on my AFDI/SIOA Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on honor killing and Islamic law, which will be held on April 29 in Dearborn, Mich. The segment was originally supposed to air last Sunday, the day that the multiple first-degree murder verdict came down in the Shafia mass honor killing in Canada, but was inexplicably delayed. The segment focused on the fact that Mokdad family members, one in particular, are livid that we are using Jessica’s name in connection with “honor killing.” Various female Mokdad family members, including Jessica’s “stepmother,” Cassandra Mokdad, alleged that Jessica’s murder was not an honor killing, despite the overwhelming evidence that it was.
The report was typical for the mainstream media and unworthy of Fox, which, while not perfect, is generally much better than its competitors: Reporter Alexis Wiley doesn’t bother to give even a shred of the evidence that it was an honor killing, and instead gives the impression that it is something I am making up. She doesn’t mention that initial reports were quite clear – a shocking thing for the mainstream media – that her stepfather killed Jessica because she “wasn’t following Islam” (report from TwinCities.com) and was “not adhering to Muslim customs” (Star Tribune).
Arab American News reported that the last recorded dispute between Jessica Mokdad and her stepfather was over the wearing of the hijab (head scarf), which he originally forced her to wear (just as in the honor murder of Canadian teen Aqsa Parvez). Jessica didn’t want to wear it, thereby bringing shame on him and the family. Her stepfather, Rahim Alfetlawi, who murdered her, was pathologically controlling, after the pattern of honor killers. At one point Jessica called her father and told him: “Dad, I can’t live here anymore; he’s too strict. I can’t even go to the store to buy a pop if I want.”
Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Contaldo said: “He thought she was becoming too Westernized. I think this was a very nice young lady wanting to experiment with Western culture without control and without abuse.” The Detroit Free Press reported: “Mokdad’s mother told police that Alfetlawi felt so shamed by her daughter’s Western ways. He killed her in an honor killing, Warren Police Sgt. Stephen Mills said.” Alfetlawi was so concerned about her behavior that he even forced her to go to a mosque and marry her boyfriend.
The Daily Mail reported this from London: “Devout Muslim stalks his stepdaughter over four states before killing her for being too Western.” The Daily Tribune reported: “Stepfather charged with murder in Warren, upset victim didn’t adhere to Muslim customs.”
And Alexis Wiley’s own previous report for Fox Detroit reported it as an honor killing as well: Wiley reported, “He forced her to wear a traditional head scarf instead of allowing her to make that decision on her own, and when she stopped wearing a scarf, friends say he became furious.” But last week on Fox and in the accompanying print report, Wiley gave no hint of the existence of these reports or her own. Why? Who is paying off Alexis Wiley? Or is it that she is scared, intimidated, afraid to “offend Islam”? Or is it that her political correctness makes it impossible to think of Muslims as anything but victims?
But in that case, why doesn’t Jessica Mokdad matter?
Apparently she doesn’t matter to her family, either. These family members’ apoplexy about the conference shows that they’re more concerned with offending Islam than with the honor murder of Jessica Mokdad. Jessica’s “stepmother” Cassandra, though just a few years older than Jessica, has been particularly vocal and vicious, with nasty Facebook comments, denials and cover for the honor killer. First Cassandra claimed that Saddam Hussein was responsible, then that the murder was an act of passion. Then in last week’s Fox report she said: “He wanted to have a relationship with Jessica as more than her stepfather. He wanted to have a more romantic relationship with her.”
Even if this is true, it doesn’t mean the murder was not an honor killing. He could have been angry with Jessica both for her Western ways and her refusal to wear the hijab, and for rejecting him. Islam expects women to be completely subservient and obedient – or else. If Alfetlawi killed her for refusing him, either way, the murder is a reflection of the attitudes of Islamic culture.
All this denial and obfuscation is part of the reason we are holding this conference: the cover-up of honor killings, despite their increasing frequency, in the West. The family of Jessica Mokdad should be joining forces with me, as have some members of Amina and Sarah Said’s family (on her mother’s non-Muslim side), to educate the public about this horrible Islamic practice.
Although it is usually the father and/or brother commits the honor killing (although Mohammad Shafia’s wife, Tooba Shafia, was a willing killer of her daughters), the mother almost always has a role. It was Patricia Said who lured her daughters home after Amina and Sarah ran away. Their father, Yaser Said, honor murdered them upon their return home in Texas on New Year’s Day 2008. Who lured Jessica Mokdad home?
We cannot sanction this gendercide. That’s why we will be in Dearborn on April 29, honoring the memory of Jessica Mokdad. To register for the Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference, please email [email protected] with your name, email address and number of people. The Hyatt is providing this room free of charge as an apology for their error in canceling a tea-party event at which I was scheduled to speak in Texas. The conference is a victory for free speech. We cannot sanction the diminishment and dehumanization of women. We must speak up.