We owe a big thank you to John for making this story available in English.
This is a translation of a German news report (with intro) by Shield of Achilles; my commentary follows it:
“Because the women here have so many rights, they become immodest”.
This is the story of another “honor killing” in Germany. This week, a court in Munich opened the trial of Iraqi-born Kazim Mahmud Raschid, who killed his ex-wife, Sazan Bajez-Abdullah, in Germany late last year. Nowhere on the internet could I find any news on this story in English, so I stopped being lazy and translated this article myself. It appeared in the German magazine Stern a couple of days ago (Original article in German can be found here). It’s definitely worth a read:
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Resident of Munich “honor killing” trial
A ghastly confession
by Rupp Doinet, Munich
In the Munich court room the mood was dead silence, as a 35-year old Iraqi described how and why he stabbed to death and ignited his wife on fire in the street. He regrets nothing, he said. He had to act in such a way. Because of culture. Because of religion. And because of German politics.
“No,”[said] the slightly-built man before the Munich criminal court, “I don’t regret that I killed my wife.” He would do it again. She would have earned it. And above all the politics of the Federal Republic of Germany are also guilty of her death. Why: “Because the women here have so many rights, they become immodest”.
When he says this, it becomes dead quiet in the large, windowless court room that is hearing the spectacular Munich criminal case. The murderers of the folk actor Walter Sedlmayr once stood here before the court. Stricher killed Rudolph Moshammer in the “Samurai murder”, where the victim was divided in two with a sword. But the public sitting in the hard wood benches were never shocked before like they were on this Thursday morning.
Stabbed to death and poured over with gasoline
As he spoke, there was there no indication that he could excuse this as acting irresponsibly out of rage or passion. Calmly discussing it, as if was a vacation, Iraqi Kurd Kazim Mahmud Raschid, 35, described why he murdered Sazan Bajez Abdullah, 24, his wife, why he stabbed her with a knife and then poured gasoline over the dying woman and set her on fire. His “culture and religion” obligated him “to do what I wanted to do”. And also her father-in-law wanted Sazan, who had brought dishonor over the family, to die: “If you do not kill her, then I am killing you”, he claims he had said, although the father denies it. The crime of the young woman: she wanted to get a divorce.
Sazan Bajuez Abdullah had looked forward to this day. On 25 October 2006 she would become divorced from Kazim Mahmud, the man, whom their parents had intended for each other, but whom she did not love. He had beaten her again and again, so much that the police had obtained a restraining order against him. At 2:30 on this day the young woman was again free. “The luckiest day in my life”, she said to a friend after the settlement.
“Now the time has come”
Three hours later Sazan Bajez Abdullah was dead. Dozens of people in the Maier Leibnitz street witnessed the killing. In the cafe at one end of the street the server had warned Sazan to run home and take her five year old son. The reason was that just a few minutes before, Abdullah had been in the cafe. Before he left he said: “Now the time has come”. The waitress knew Sazan and Kazim, and told the young woman “he will kill you”. But she did not take the threat seriously.
The attack happened in the middle on the road. The man stabbed the woman who had just divorced him 13 times. Then he ran to his car, took a can with gasoline, went to the mortally wounded but still living woman, and poured it over and ignited her. From the balcony of the nearby houses residents threw down water and wet cloths. Passersby who tried to help the burning woman took the distraught child, who had seen everything, safely away. A criminal investigator, who heard the cries and lived in an adjoining house on that road, arrested the Iraqi.
“I wanted to kill her”
“I wanted to kill her”, he says now before court. And: “I do this if I am a man”. “For nine months already” he had planned the act. Everything was thought of. From the knife to kill her, to the gasoline for the fire, to burn her “because all windows of my life closed”, with her disobedience, the desire for a divorce, the refusal to return to Iraq and the prohibition against seeing his son. If nearby people came to assist the woman, he would have repelled them with two electric stun guns.
Kazim came to Germany ten years ago, an inconspicuous Kurd from Kala Diza in northeast Iraq. He requested asylum, the request would be rejected. Kazim was merely “patient” but he was not allowed to leave Munich. However, the former mechanic who performed unskilled jobs there, did not abide by this rule. By secretive methods he traveled four times to his home country and again back to Munich altogether. He told his family in Kurdistan that they should look for a woman for him.
Forcibly taken into marriage
They found Sazan. A half hour later two men, who were strangers to Kazim up to that point, met with him for half an hour. Then, Kazim said before the court, the wedding was agreed on and that “Sazan was pleased”. Sazan had obviously no other prospects. Their father, then entrusted her later to go to Munich with a friend, in order to be forced into marriage. Their son came into the world on 21 August 2001 in Munich. They gave a name which means “tear” in Kurdish. Sazan was certainly not the kind of wife Kazim wished for. Sazan’s application for asylum was also rejected. But she was patient, learned German fast, made friends, laughed gladly, read books and dreamed of becoming a writer. There were conflicts between the two. In October 2005 they showed up for the first time. He tried to strangle her.
A physician actually diagnosed with the young woman with strangulation marks. A temporary restraining order was issued against Kazim, with no contact allowed. From now on he was not allowed to come within 300 meters of his wife or their home. Also he was not allowed to visit his son anymore. Sazan was afraid he might kidnap the child and take him to Iraq. But Kazim never abided by the terms of the restraining order. He stalked Sazan at the bus stop, beat her up there, broke into her mail box, entered her cellar, and on the window ledge left a tape cassette in which he discussed her. It said one could meet her in hell, and that a woman, who in Germany is called a “slut” is better than a woman who does not obey her husband. The police seemed to be powerless. If she came to them, Kazim was always somewhere else in town and contradicted all of her allegations. Only now, after the murder at the young woman, he was convicted to ten months in jail because of the various violations of the restraining order.
Almost at the same time, the Administrative Court of Munich rejected a request at to waive the court costs for Sazan’s asylum application, which she had filed while she was still alive. Reason of the court: Honor killings and “endangerments because of family honor” are a type of cultural tradition, that is to say: “the problems take root in the general rules of the Iraq and the social customs and religious standards”. For the murder at its wife Kazim Mahmud Raschid now faces life imprisonment — along with the weight of his guilt.
The Baron passed this story on to me for comment. What I have to say may not appeal to many Americans but it is written from my own experience as a battered woman in my first marriage, and my subsequent employment some years later as a crisis counselor for women who were fleeing violent relationships.
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Obviously, there are large cultural differences between this Kurdish couple and heterosexual relationships between consenting adults in the U.S. — whether those relationships are marriages or simply a couple living together.
For one thing, we don’t have arranged marriages anymore. For another there is not explicit cultural approval of violence against women in this country. However, I do think the implicit permission is there: otherwise why would violence between men and women be so commonplace? Muslim women probably do not initiate as much of the violence as American women do. That may be surprising, but in marriages and parenting, it is often the wife/mother who flies off the handle at her intimates.
However, when husbands are abusive, they are usually very abusive. And they stalk their estranged partners far more often than women ever do. The most dangerous time for a battered woman is when she leaves home. Her absence can cause a cascade of rage and fear in a dependent man. He often becomes obsessed with getting her back or making sure no one else can have her — no one but the cold ground, anyway.
One thing that the story mentioned was a “restraining order” the court issued against Kazim. What a cruel, sick joke. How can a Kurdish woman actually believe that a Kurdish man — a Sunni Muslim — is going to abide by a piece of paper from an infidel court? What in Allah’s name would she be thinking?
Such restraining orders in this country are equally worthless. In fact, they can often serve to enrage an already fragile man and push him over the edge. How humiliating is it for a man, already deserted by his wife, to be served with a court order by other men dressed in police uniforms? What kind of action must he take to ward off the subsequent shame? I knew one woman who was killed by her estranged husband when he invaded her father’s house where she was hiding. There were two police officers in the next room, called by this terrified woman to save her. Nothing short of leaving town, severing her relationships with friends and family, and assuming a new identity and social security number can save a woman from a determined, obsessed and enraged husband.
You would be surprised by the number of women who simply can’t do this, or who refuse to take the lethality of the situation seriously. Look at the story above. The server in the restaurant could see Sazan’s mortal danger, but she was blind to it. Not that she wasn’t afraid. I just don’t think she could keep emotional pace with her husband’s unraveling. Like many unsuccessful strategists, she was not looking forward, which is where the next uptick in the war would be. Instead, she was operating under old information — i.e., what her husband had done in the past.
In the U.S., we have the death penalty for premeditated murder. But we do not impose it on husbands. Their prison sentences are always lighter than the rageful killing of a stranger. This seems perverse to me, but that’s how it is. I remember one man who blackened his wife’s eyes and fractured her ribs. I had the photos because by the time we got to court, her eyes looked fine. The judge listened to both stories — the man did not contest what he had done, only remarking that she “deserved” it. At the end of the hearing, this abuser was given six months for felonious assault, with all but three days suspended. Even he was surprised at how lightly he got off. He asked the judge to repeat his sentence and then echoed wonderingly “three days, huh? It was worth it.” Needless to say, it was not their last appearance in court.
The women I knew who died were seldom the victim of firearms. One died after being repeatedly hit over the head with a toilet seat. Some were strangled. Others were burned to death. One was run over. Often kitchen knives were the weapon of choice.
Here’s the basic problem as I see it: people do not take others seriously. There is a kind of contempt in being dismissive of another’s rage. Such attitudes simply up the ante. Domestic violence against any family member is as serious as a heart attack and ought to be treated as such. But few people give it the gravitas it deserves, whether out of fear or helplessness, or simply not seeing others as fully “other” — I have never been able to discern the reasons for trivializing something so dire.
Nearly every woman I counseled came in frightened, distraught, and complaining that it “wasn’t fair.” Sometimes I was told that I should “do something” to make him stop hurting her. I would ask if she thought this person loved her, and of course she would respond in the affirmative: “sure he does.” I would then inquire whether or not she had ever asked him to stop. By then she’d be irritated and say “well of course I have. I ask him over and over but he won’t stop.” Then I would propose that if he loved her and still wouldn’t quit hurting her, why in the world would he stop beating on her just because I asked him to? Getting a frightened woman past the “it’s not fair” stage is a major accomplishment. It often takes years.
American abusers differ from their Muslim counterparts in that they do not get cultural confirmation from their families and friends for their violence. But American men do receive a silent message that they can get away with it. This message comes both from the judicial system which gives them lighter sentences for their crimes, and from women who return again and again, refusing to see the eventual moral and mortal corrosion their dependence creates.
I used to think it was a matter of economics: where can you hide with three children and no marketable skills and no family? My abuser, ex-military, sometimes told me that if I left he’d hunt me down and kill me and the children. His threat was most credible. I didn’t see any alternative to staying, though, as many battered women do, I eventually became a very good negotiator in order to avoid some of the violence. And then without warning, one morning I woke up and understood that there were worse things than dying. I can’t say that I “decided” I’d not be hit again; some inner valve simply turned off. I never discussed the subject with anyone…but he never touched me in anger again.
Years later, counseling wealthy women with no children who still couldn’t seem to find their way to the door, I understood finally that we can never plumb the mysteries of the human heart.
Years after that, I came to see that only children are truly victims. Adults are volunteers and must take responsibility for the results of their choices, even when those choices are made with limited information. To claim any less is to take away agency for our behavior. Life without free will is not really fully lived.
The story from Germany states that this killer will suffer from guilt. Of all the questionable things the article claimed, that one is the most off-key. It is dead wrong. Kazim Mahmud Raschid has no guilt. In his eyes, his behavior was justifiable and righteous, provoked by a woman who learned her immodesty from an infidel culture.
I do wonder where their little boy is. Have no doubt that when Raschid leaves prison, he will claim his child and he will explain their family story to his son, giving him the orthodox version of events that led to his mother’s well-deserved death.