Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs
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Is Honor Killing a “Muslim Phenomenon”? Textual Interpretations and Cultural Representations Recep Doğan Version of record first published: 20 Oct 2011.
To cite this article: Recep Doğan (2011): Is Honor Killing a “Muslim Phenomenon”? Textual Interpretations and Cultural Representations, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 31:3, 423-440 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13602004.2011.599547
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Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 3, September 2011
Is Honor Killing a “Muslim Phenomenon”? Textual Interpretations and Cultural Representations
˘ RECEP DOGAN
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In communities where there is a high incidence of honor killings there is a powerful sense of the concept of honor and a shared belief that honor is the most fundamental value in life. It is these differing cultural interpretations and understandings of honor and shame, rather than Islam or other religious beliefs, which dictate what is perceived as honorable and what is not and, to a great extent, determine whether any action needs to be taken against shameful conduct. It can also be observed, however, that while honor killing is not a solely Muslim phenomenon, the concept has increasingly become associated with Muslim societies in general. There are factors arising from the different interpretations of certain Qur’anic verses that have made Muslim communities more vulnerable to such misinterpretation and misunderstanding. By reference to different interpretations of these verses, this article aims to illustrate the way in which the social status of women and their sexuality have ostensibly been reconstructed as a source of “potential stress” or “potential threat” to family honor. It is this reconstruction that creates an environment conducive in Muslim communities to the practice of honor killings, and makes Muslims more likely to exhibit the typical characteristics of honor killings. Introduction Honor killing is the product of social interactions amongst members of society; and it is qualitatively different from other kinds of murders. It is governed by “the specific logic of an honor culture”1 and a particular cultural understanding of honor and shame which is likely to be alien and inexplicable to people from a different cultural background. According to this logic: …if a woman refused to comply with the rules set down by her cultural community, her ‘immoral behaviour’ contaminated the whole family. If other strategies to make the women comply failed, the only remedy was for her male relatives to kill her in order to protect the family honour. Thus, the murders were culturally sanctioned...