Msg # 400 Date: 28 Sep 91 17:17:27 To: All Subj: 'Femicide' in Israel _ EID:89d5 173c8a20

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Msg # 400 Date: 28 Sep 91 17:17:27 From: William Bowles To: All Subj: 'Femicide' in Israel ____________________________________________________________________________ EID:89d5 173c8a20 11:30 am Sep 25, 1991 Source: Peacenet (Fido:250/222) igc:pacificnews Conf:pacnews.sample COPYRIGHT PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE 450 Mission Street, Room 506 San Francisco, CA 94105 415-243-4364 SPECIAL FEATURE -- 780 WORDS HONOR KILLING FUELS DEBATE OVER WOMEN AND ISLAM EDITOR'S NOTE: The trial of an Arab father from Galilee charged with the honor killing of his daughter has set off a heated debate in the Arab and Hebrew press over the impact of Islamic fundamentalism on women's rights. PNS correspondent Jill Hamburg reports on the controversy from her base in Jerusalem. BY JILL HAMBURG, PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE JERUSALEM -- When 19-year-old Ibtisam Habashi told her family she was pregnant and wanted to wed the baby's father, it was only days before her arranged marriage to another man. Several male relatives bound and murdered her, then set her body on fire. Fanar (Arabic for "lighthouse"), an Arab feminist group in Israel that demonstrated against the July killing, charges dozens like Habashi are murdered each year in villages in northern Israel's Galilee. Their crime is violating "family honor," maintained through the chastity of women. Haifa University sociologist Majed al-Hajj says no statistics on honor killings exist but estimates the number at three a year. Today, as Habashi's father stands trial for the murder, the incident has fueled a heated debate in the Hebrew and Arabic media over women's rights -- and whether Islamic fundamentalism is responsible for the persistence of honor killings. For Fanar's activists, the answer is yes -- and no. Before venting their anger at the mosques, they denounced Israel's justice system for what they charge is a "hands-off attitude" toward village and clan authorities. "Police officers have handed young women runaways over to village elders, knowing they might be killed," says Fanar founder Manar Hassan, a 28-year-old Muslim from the Galilee. "The government wishes to maintain good relations with our traditional leadership." Some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs live in Israel. But Fanar's demonstrators, many themselves Muslims, also fault powerful local fundamentalists and call instead for Islamic reform. "Murdering daughters," they chanted, "is not Islam, but blasphemy." Honor killings occur among Christians in Greece and Italy as well as among Arab Muslims, says anthropologist Rima Hamami of Temple University. And fundamentalist leaders rarely preach in favor of the killings. But many Arab women say fundamentalism's effective clampdown on their daily lives has subtly encouraged the practice. With varying success, fundamentalist leaders have moved to prohibit dancing, music and beach-going in recent years. Many women have voluntarily veiled themselves in a "hijab," or headscarf, to express their own religious rebirth. But others have put it on out of fear, after gangs of young boys began attacking bare-headed women in the streets, with the approval of fundamentalist leaders. A recent Arab women's conference also blamed fundamentalist influence for increasing female school drop-out and plummeting levels of women's public participation. Fundamentalists, however, hold that their duty is to prepare the social ground for the emergence of a future Islamic state so they concentrate on a "moral" agenda. Women's behavior is a key focus. The new behavior codes are also promoted as a "national duty," Hamami explains, as a way to honor the nearly 1,000 "martyrs" of the four-year- old Intifada. To the women who have become born-again Muslims, these changes are welcome. They even see embracing fundamentalism as a kind of feminist act. "Before, I used to be scared of everything," says Assia, a journalist's assistant in Gaza, who wears a floor length grey coat and white hijab. "Now I feel very strong. A woman wearing the hijab feels it's a weapon -- that she's defying all the world." Assia also insists that Islam protects women's rights. "From the moment she's born until she dies, a Moslem woman is guaranteed the right to money, to a dowry, to alimony and social security and the right to work, if she wants to," she says. But Fanar's activists, and other Islamic feminist reformers, want to go further and build a more tolerant Islamic society, based on the Koran, which would give women equal opportunities and liberties. Tirhani Abu Dakka, a heroine in Gaza since she suffered a miscarriage during imprisonment in Israel without charges, is one such reformer. "Real Islam, based on the Koran, is not against offering women all their legitimate rights," she says. The committee she heads runs coops which offer women an income and independence, and the chance to leave their houses. "We are not fundamentalists, but we're faithful," she says. "There's no conflict between Islamic law and the things we want." Another reformer, West Bank attorney Renda Siniora, organized a study group for women on shari'a, or Islamic law, under the tutelage of a leading Palestinian sheikh. When they are through, these Arab women lawyers will be well equipped to fight legal discrimination. "Current laws don't suit us or recognize women's involvement in the labor force and in the national struggle," Siniora says. These Moslem feminists have also found common cause with Israeli Jews fighting violence against Jewish women. By linking the oppression of women in both religious communities, they denounce fundamentalism without blaming Islam itself. "Our people are turning to fundamentalism to deal with the stress of social change and modernization,"observes Nabila Espanioli, an Israeli-Arab activist in Haifa. But the murder of women -- "femicide" - - is separate, and crosses religious lines. "Women are being violated because they're women. It's not specific to Arab society." (09251991)**** END **** COPYRIGHT PNS --- Tabby 2.2 * Origin: NY On-Line "The Best of Peacenet" 718-852-2662 (1:278/607) SEEN-BY: 13/13 135/41 151/100 122 143 223 501 1000 1003 373/2 374/1 SEEN-BY: 374/14 15 3603/120 PATH: 278/607 3 109/25 396/1 13/13 151/1003 374/1 14

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