She struggled desperately to cling to the fifth-floor balcony railing her Turkish father had just thrown her over, a precious 16-year-old life hanging, literally, in the balance. Observing the helpless young female form dangling high in the air, horrified onlookers could not believe what happened next. An unidentified member of the woman's family, ignoring the terrified eyes appealing upwards for help, pitilessly loosened the defenseless teenager's hands, causing her to plunge to what was supposed to be her death.
However, this young victim of an attempted honor murder in the German city of Wuppertal unexpectedly lived, having her fall broken by a garage roof. And last month a German court sentenced her bestial father to four and a half years in prison, the judge remarking that it borders on a miracle his daughter is still alive. But the young woman's horrific ordeal is not yet over, as she still fears revenge attacks from angry relatives.
And what was the crime, for which this young woman earned such a savage death sentence from her family? Already a victim of a forced marriage, the unidentified victim was rebelling against her father and the archaic, patriarchal traditions of his Muslim-Turkish culture. Of Germany's 3.2 million Muslims, about 2.7 million are of Turkish origin.
Like most normal teenage girls in Germany, this young Turkish woman wanted to choose the way she lived her life, which often includes the freedom to choose her own boyfriends and husband. But in order to satisfy this freedom drive that most civilized people take for granted, many such young Muslim females must cut off all connection with their families, live an underground existence not unlike in an American witness protection program, and even risk their lives to honor killings at the hands of vengeful relatives and clan members.
Honor murder is not an insignificant problem in Germany. The Federal Crime Office (Germany's FBI) registered 48 honor homicides between 1996 and 2006 with a further 22 people surviving attempted honor killings. The youngest victim was a 14-year-old, married Muslim girl. And like her, most of the victims were young, Muslim women, while a few were men.
An additional two honor killings were barely averted only last March in Munich when another Turkish man, living in Germany for 32 years, tried to kill his 18-year-old daughter and her German boyfriend on a busy open street. The father had disapproved of the daughter's relationship, beaten her many times and had threatened to kill her. The young couple managed to escape the attack and contact the police.
The reasons for honor killings are varied. They range from the female victim living too western (re: independent) a lifestyle (a young Muslim woman was recently killed in England for this reason), to wanting a divorce, to having left the family home to escape domestic violence or an abusive forced marriage. Some also flee to avoid a forced marriage in the offing.
"Every woman who flees the home is the object of an honor murder," noted one observer.
The problem of domestic violence in Muslim homes is so bad that, according to one German newspaper, thirty per cent of the occupants in women's shelters in German cities are Muslim. And even there, these unfortunate women are not safe. Husbands and other male clan members, who can number up to 300, often set up round the clock surveillance of the shelter, in which the woman has sought refuge.
Despite the fact multiculturalism was supposed to end racism (another naïve, leftist, social engineering illusion), Muslim women have also been killed for racist reasons, namely, for dating or becoming engaged to German men. Many Muslims in Germany despise the culture of the country they live in. They believe Germans are impure infidels who eat pork and drink alcohol, and hold the opinion a female family member dirties both her religion and her family's honor by contact with them.
One young Muslim woman, who fled a planned forced marriage and is now living what the police term a 'submarine existence' (she is in hiding), said her father told her when she was a child never to play with German girls because they were whores and that he would kill her if he ever caught her playing with boys. This 'man of honor', she says, has now threatened to pour gasoline over her and burn her to death if he ever finds her.
But whatever the reason for her murder, the woman's family believes her behavior has sullied its honor in the eyes of its ethnic-religious community and only her death will restore it.
As for the Muslim men, many believe they have a religious-based right to control women, especially their chastity, which is of the highest importance in their culture. These men do not want to be known as a "Namussuz Adam" (Turkish for "honorless man") that a female family member's behavior, especially her sexual behavior, could cause. (Hence the expression among them, 'a man's honor lies between a woman's legs'.)
Even in Germany, bloody bed sheets are shown to relatives and guests after wedding nights to prove the bride's virginity, after which the sheets are kissed and money is thrown on them. As a result, even a rumor that a woman may have had contact with a man could be her death warrant.
The fact some of these men may have disgraced their families with their own less than admirable behavior at some point in time never enters their heads. When one young Muslim honor killer, who had murdered his sister, was asked whether he thought he had shamed his family with his previous criminal convictions and subsequent jail time replied: "I broke your law; she broke ours."
Some Muslim women are also not blameless. Several are suspected of having helped plan the murders of their sisters and daughters. The sister of Hatun Surucu, whose horrific honor murder in Berlin by her family in 2005 awoke Germans to this social horror in their midst, even applied to adopt her sister's five-year-old son shortly afterwards. Fortunately, her application was rejected. Surucu's 18-year-old brother was the one chosen to kill her, shooting his sister at a bus stop.
It is also infuriating that honor murderers like Surucu's brother are regarded as heroes by other Muslims and as martyrs when jailed. Many of them are also very young, since the family patriarchs realize that minors rarely receive the full ten year sentence for manslaughter and are often released early. In Berlin's juvenile detention facility in 2005, there were six minors serving time for honor killings.
But honor murders have now forced Germans to realize that it isn't just a parallel society that has arisen in their midst since the 1960s, but rather an anti-civilization where humanistic European values, the inheritance of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, are no longer valid. This barbaric 'new world' is also repealing their society's laws. Moreover, in this anti-civilization, there is no concept of individuality, a fundamental European precept. A person, especially a woman, cannot have an identity outside the religion, culture and clan. In this respect, the anti-civilization growing in Europe like a cancer is totalitarian in nature. All of which does not bode well for a continent that has already paid too high a price for totalitarian ideologies.
One also cannot speak of integration. Multiculturalism is an obvious failure in Germany as in other European countries and, more than that, is now a threat to liberal society and democracy with the barbarisms it has imported and tolerated. The father who threw his daughter off the balcony, for example, was a third generation Turkish-German. Like him, many other Muslims, even educated ones, do not want to integrate. Segregating themselves from the host culture, they live voluntarily in large ghettos in German cities where only their anti-civilization values and laws are in force. And since these ghettos cannot be broken up and many living there obviously do not fear German laws, the horror of honor murders is in Germany to stay.
By Stephen Brown