Ayat Ahmed wrote on Twitter, “The only shame that exists is those so-called humans that commit crimes in the name of honor and the laws that allow such criminals to live among us. My heart aches for Rasha and all women who fall victim to such heinous crimes.”
According to Jordanian dissident Mudar Zahran, a Syrian rebel named Bashar Bseiso who is part of a group that is presently being backed by the Turkish government livestreamed the murder of his teenage sister, Rasha. The incident happened after indiscrete photos of his sister were published on Facebook.
Al Masdar reported that the teenage girl was in a relationship with a Turkish soldier and this greatly infuriated her brother. However, Al Balawba claimed that there were reports that she was raped by a Turkish soldier and it was he who posted the indiscrete photos of her on Facebook. Either way, the rebel’s friend urged him to “wash his disgrace” and shoot the victim.
In the sickening video, which was shot by the rebel’s friend and was placed onto youtube, after his friend tells him to murder his sister due to the fact that she allegedly committed “adultery,” the rebel asks his sister to show her face to the camera. She shows her face but looks terrified while sitting on the ground with her body learning towards a wall.
The rebel then proceeds to fire a series of rounds of AK-47 bullets into his sister’s body. Al Masdar claimed it was 90. Al Balawba claimed that it was over 20. Either way, his sister is now dead, being the latest victim of an honor crime. Al Watan reported in 2016 that honor crimes have increased fourfold since the Syrian crisis began especially in areas controlled by armed groups, who encourage families to murder women and girls in this manner. Al Watan claimed that the lack of law and order within Syria has led to a rapid increase in these types of murder since these pro-honor killing armed groups are in control of many areas.
In the Muslim world, many consider it to be a disgrace for a woman or girl to dress immodestly, behave immodestly or have premarital sex. For many, even if a woman is raped, the woman bears responsibility for not preserving her honor properly. While honor for men is something that can be achieved and thus is a process, Turkish scholar Deniz Kandiyoti states that honor for women is an ascribed status that can only be lost. Thus, women in the wider Muslim world are expected to take a series of actions in order to preserve their honor.
When a woman fails to preserve her honor, then the entire extended family is shamed. The family is exposed to ridicule and contempt until they restore their honor by shedding the victim’s blood. As Moroccan scholar Fatema Mernissi explained, “The system of honor binds the reputation of men and women to their genital apparatus. A respectable man is not simply someone who acquires some degree of economic power but who also controls the sexual behavior of his wife, daughters, and sisters.” Therefore, in such societies, many men will do anything in order to restore his lost honor, even if it means murdering his sister in a callous manner.
Even though honor crimes are common throughout the Muslim world including in Syria, Zahran claims that this murder sent shockwaves across the Arab world because it was livestreamed online and was not done behind closed doors. Furthermore, there are those in the Muslim world especially in the wake of the Arab Spring who question any societal norm that calls for the murder of innocent women.
Ayat Ahmed wrote on Twitter, “The only shame that exists is those so-called humans that commit crimes in the name of honor and the laws that allow such criminals to live among us. My heart aches for Rasha and all women who fall victim to such heinous crimes.” Sara Dashti added on her Twitter, “There is absolutely nothing in the world that would give a person reason enough to shoot their sister like this.” Zahran also noted that Islam opposes such murders: “Islam does not allow killing either men or women for premarital sex, let alone spreading nude selfies on Facebook.”
The murder took place in Jarbalis, a town that is under the control of the Free Syrian Army and is administratively part of Aleppo. It is located near the Turkish border. According to Al Balawba, local residents have complained that the security situation in the city has deteriorated due to the fact that it has become quite easy for locals to get their hands on weapons.