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Beheading in New York Appears to Be Honor Killing

The beheading of 37-year-old Aasiya Hassan has all the markings of an honor killing, psychologists and Islamic experts tell FOXNews.com, as the upstate New York woman's husband awaits a preliminary hearing on murder charges.

Muzzammil Hassan, 44, remains jailed after being charged with the second-degree murder of his wife, whose body was found Thursday at the office of Bridges TV, their television station in Orchard Park, near Buffalo.

Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said Hassan has not confessed to the crime, despite media reports to the contrary.

"He came in and said his wife was dead," said Benz, who declined to elaborate on the particulars of his conversation with the suspect.

But Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III left no doubt that he believes Muzzammil Hassan killed his wife. Hassan will appear for a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Orchard Park. If convicted of second-degree murder, he faces up to life in prison.

"He's a pretty vicious and remorseless bastard," Sedita told FOXNews.com Tuesday. "Whether he was motivated by some kind of interpretation of his religious or cultural views, we don't know. We'll look into everything in the case."

Asked if the murder is being probed as an honor killing, Benz replied, "We've been told that there's no place for that kind of action in their faith, but I wouldn't say that there's anything that's being completely ruled out at this point."

But psychologists and some American Muslims said the slaying has all the markings of an honor killing.

"The fierce and gruesome nature of this murder signals it's an honor killing," said Dr. Phyllis Chesler, an author and professor of psychology at the Richmond College of the City University of New York. "What she did was worthy of capital punishment in his eyes."

Following multiple episodes of domestic violence, Aasiya Hassan filed for divorce on Feb. 6 and obtained an order of protection that barred her husband from their home, according to attorney Elizabeth DiPirro, whose law firm, Hogan Willig, represented Aasiya Hassan in the divorce proceeding.

Chesler, who wrote "Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?" for Middle East Quarterly, said some Muslim men consider divorce a dishonor on their family.

"This is not permitted in their culture," said Chesler, whose study analyzed more than 50 reports of honor killings in North America and Europe. "This is, from a cultural point of view, an honor killing."

Chesler said honor killings typically are Muslim-on-Muslim crimes and largely involve teenage daughters, young women and, to a lesser extent, wives.

But Chesler said the "extremely gruesome nature" of the crime closely matches the characteristics of an honor killing.

"Leaving the body parts displayed the way he did, like a terrorist would do, that's very peculiar, it's very public," Chesler said. "He wanted to show that even though his business venture may have been failing, that he was in control of his wife."

Chesler called on U.S. and Canadian immigration authorities to inform potential Muslim immigrants and new Muslim citizens that it's illegal to abuse women in the two countries.

"As long as Islamist advocacy groups continue to obfuscate the problem, and government and police officials accept their inaccurate versions of reality, women will continue to be killed for honor in the West, such murder may even accelerate," Chesler wrote. "Unchecked by Western law, their blood will be on society's hands."

M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, agreed with Chesler.

"It certainly has all the markings of [an honor killing]," Jasser told FOXNews.com. "She expressed through the legal system that she was being abused, and at the moment she asked for divorce, she's not only murdered — she's decapitated."

Muzzammil and Aasiya Hassan founded Bridges TV in November 2004 to counter anti-Islam stereotypes, touting the network as the "first-ever full-time home for American Muslims," according to a 2004 press release.

Jasser said he was concerned that Aasiya Hassan suffered such a barbaric death after she and her husband were seen as a couple focused on bettering the "Islamic image" in the United States.

"The most dangerous aspect of this case is to simply say it's domestic violence," Jasser told FOXNews.com.

In a 1,300-word statement, Islamic Society of North America Vice President Imam Mohammed Hagmagid Ali said the organization was "shocked and saddened" by the killing.

"This is a wake up call to all of us, that violence against women is real and can not be ignored," the statement read. "It must be addressed collectively by every member of our community."

Ali called on imams and community leaders to take a "strong stand" against domestic violence, and he denounced the link of shame and divorce among Muslims.

"Women who seek divorce from their spouses because of physical abuse should get full support from the community and should not be viewed as someone who has brought shame to herself or her family," the statement continued. "The shame is on the person who committed the act of violence or abuse. Our community needs to take a strong stand against abusive spouses."

Meanwhile, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, a producer and host for Bridges TV who worked alongside the Hassans, said "now is not the time" to debate the cultural and religious context of the murder that appears to be an honor killing inspired by Aasiya Hassan's desire to divorce her husband.

"There will be time for that later," Hirschfield said in a statement obtained by FOXNews.com. "I will only say to those who leap to the conclusion that this kind of thing is intrinsic to Islam, ask yourselves if you think that drunkenness is intrinsic to Irish Catholics, or cheating in business is to Jews?"


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Added: Feb-17-2009 Occurred On: Feb-16-2009
By: GI-Gizmo
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Tags: beheading, honor, killing, new, york, muslim, islamic, wife
Marked as: repost
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