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A Wake Up Call: Muslim Advocates Against Violence (MAAV) Condemns the Murder of Aasiya Hassan and Urge All to Do More
February 19, 2009
Muslim Advocates Against Violence (MAAV) condemns the gruesome murder of Aasiya Hassan. We join Muslim advocates and organizations around the country in conveying our deepest sympathies to the family and community members of Ms. Hassan. We urge everyone to learn more about domestic violence within Muslim communities, to become fierce advocates for people who speak out about violence in their lives, and to hold the perpetrators of violence accountable for their actions.
After securing an order of protection against her husband and filing for divorce, Aasiya Hassan, 37 years old, was brutally beheaded and found dead in her hometown of Buffalo, New York on Thursday, February 12, 2009. Two children survive her, ages 4 and 6. After the murder, Ms. Hassan’s husband Muzzammil, directed police to his Bridges TV office where her body was found. He is now charged with second-degree murder.
The irony that a well-respected Muslim leader, the founder and CEO of a Muslim television channel, is an abuser proves how prevalent abuse is despite ones standing within a community and society. It shows how insidious and hidden this problem truly is. We urge the Muslim community to hold their leaders to the highest ethical standards, and to speak out when incidence of domestic violence occurs.
The media is reporting the murder of Ms. Hassan as both an honor killing and the fatal result of domestic violence. However, in the effort to understand how we can prevent future incidents from escalating to this point, the label of this heinous act is not significant. Domestic violence is a problem that plagues women, children, and yes – men, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, orientation or economic status. In a study conducted by the late Sharifa Alkhateeb, 1 in 10 American Muslim women experienced physical abuse. This number does not reflect victims of other equally damaging forms of violence such as verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, economic and spiritual abuse.
It takes tremendous courage for victims of violence to reach out, to finally ask for help, and to admit that violence is occurring in their lives. For many, it takes years to break the cycle of power and control before seeking help. When any one of us becomes aware of violence in someone’s life, we absolutely must act, and take the matter seriously. We must realize the emotional courage it takes to speak out, and respect the experiences and decisions of the survivor. The question is NOT, “why didn’t she leave before?” rather, “why did all of us let this go on for so long?” and, “how can I prevent this from happening again?”
Despite prevailing stereotypes of Muslims, domestic violence is not an Islamic value, nor is it permissible or condoned within the Muslim community. Many women, men and children continue to be killed as a result of domestic violence; Aasiya Hassan is an unfortunate name on a list too long and too preventable.
We urge all to take this event as wake up call to learn more about domestic violence, and to find out how we can prevent such tragedies. There are state coalitions against domestic violence, community-based organizations, policy think tanks, international programs and faith-based organizations dedicated to ending the pervasive issue of violence against women.
We encourage all domestic violence programs to take a committed step towards learning about and engaging in outreach to Muslim communities, and ensuring their services are culturally and religiously sensitive to all survivors. Similarly, without community support and awareness, efforts and sustainable results of domestic violence programs are limited.
We also caution against diverging away from the justice Ms. Hassan and her family deserves by framing her death within a xenophobic lens that only enforces negative imagery of Muslims. This was not an act of terrorism perpetrated by or penetrating American-Muslim communities, nor was it inflicted due to extremist religious politics and beliefs. Aasiya Hassan’s tragic death joins the innumerable acts of domestic violence committed around our globe that terrorize women, men and children in every community.
For additional information regarding domestic violence, and for technical assistance, please contact the Peaceful Families Project (PFP) at info@peacefulfamili es.org, or visit http://www.peacefulfamilie s.org. PFP is a national domestic violence organization that facilitates awareness workshops for Muslim leaders and communities, provides cultural sensitivity trainings for professionals, and develops resources regarding abuse in Muslim communities.
Muslim Advocates Against Violence (MAAV) is a national network of advocates committed to ending violence against women and supporting healthy communities. MAAV’s mission is to raise awareness, foster dialogue and strengthen advocacy.
For additional information about MAAV, email: firstname.lastname@example.org