Thursday, June 14, 2007

today : Some thoughts on Banaz and John

Murder is always horrid and what I am writing here is in no way meant to trivialise it.

Yesterday the News contained information about two high profile murders. PC John Henry was stabbed to death in Luton and the murderers of Banaz Mahmod were convicted and sentenced.

It was interesting that the Banaz Mahmod story - one of 'honour killing' in the Muslim immigrant community appeared first on the BBC evening news bulletins. The PC Henry story was secondary.

Both murders should be highlighted and both people should be mourned equally.

My point is that it is highly unusual in this country for the murder of a policeman to not be the lead item on the news. I wonder why it wasn't in this case.

My conclusion is profoundly depressing. The story of Banaz Mahmod was simply a 'sexier' story. It has lots of elements of controversy - the kind of stuff that can elicit opinions and drive viewer emails and phone in shows. It is about Muslims, who are the default pariahs of our society. It encompasses immigration and touches on the fashionable ideas about Britishness. Never mind the fact that there was home-made phone-shot video of Banaz herself, expressing her fears.

More worryingly, little was done to disassociate 'Honour Killing' from Islam. When did you ever hear someone referred to as a member of the Christian community?

'Honour killing' is not a Muslim activity, but a cultural practice borne of extremist Patriarchy. All the context pieces surrounding the case have been about Islam, none that I saw mentioned the dangers of patriarchal social models. Any men who kill their own daughters and relatives are clearly brutal, evil people. Sadly there are plenty of men like this, and plenty of children with white rather than brown faces who end up dead without ever making the six o clock news.

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