Tuesday, February 08, 2011

East Meets West Meets Prison

A guy in Buffalo cut off his wife's head. Now he's going to jail. The story is disturbing for oh-so-many reasons, but two grab our attention: (1) the killer, Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan is a prominent Muslim businessman; and (2) straight through his trial, Mo claimed that he was the real victim. As opposed to, say, his late wife.

Hassan and his wife Aasiya Zubair Hassan founded Bridges TV, a cable network described by its website as "the first channel of its kind that offers a broad range of lifestyle oriented programming that aims to foster a greater understanding between the West and MESA (Middle Eastern/South Asian) religions, its cultures, and diverse populations." Um, right. One of the founders killed the other. So much for greater understanding.

Aside from cheap irony, the truth is that Hassan's crime helped to undermine East-West understanding, by playing into one of the readiest anti-Muslim cultural tropes. Soon after he walked into the police station in February 2009, speculation began that the murder had been an "honor killing." This interpretation has been firmly rejected by the victim's own family, and was not part of the prosecution's case against Hassan. As reported by the Buffalo New here and here, the case was far less exotic. Hassan abused his wife for years, both physically and emotionally. She filed for divorce, so he killed her. Same thing happens in trailer parks and suburban split-levels all over America.

(On the subject of speculation, note this: In one of the emails presented as evidence, Aasiya claimed that her husband suffered from narcissistic personality disorder. The district attorney commented that during the trial, Hassan displayed "an incredible lack of self-awareness," which extended to firing his attorney and representing himself -- poorly. Let those who know our preoccupation with narcissistic church leadership hear and shudder.)

So Hassan's religion is less relevant to the crime than to public perception in a society primed to explode with rage against Islam. On the other hand, his persistent claim to be the victim provides a different comment on our times. Sure, its the usual self-serving narcissistic crap, made more frightening by the fact that he probably believes it. But take note of the language Hassan used to express the idea:

He also said the judge, prosecutors, police officers and medical professionals who testified against him did so based on their preconceived notion that only women can be abuse victims. In closing arguments, he referred to their adherence to a "religion of patriarchy."

He told jurors he stands against this gender-biased model of "false beliefs" the way Gandhi stood against colonialism, the way former President Ronald Reagan stood against communism and the way one-time South African President Nelson Mandela stood against apartheid.

Set aside the grandiosity of a murderer comparing himself to Gandhi. Focus on "gender-biased" and "religion of patriarchy." It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to appropriate the language of academic feminism to justify killing your wife. Not to mention that "lack of self-awareness" we were talking about.

The truth is that, based on these press reports, Hassan would have been better off pursuing some form of diminished-competence plea. You know, the insanity defense -- arguing that he couldn't distinguish right from wrong. It's a long shot, thank heaven; and frankly, we're glad he didn't waste the court's time with it. The guy belongs in jail.

Which is where he will spent the next 25-to-life. The trial was delayed for nearly two years, but the verdict wasn't. The jury deliberated for under an hour -- one of the speediest verdicts the lead prosecutor had ever seen. Sentencing is March 9. Hang 'em high, Judge Thomas Franczyk.


Nixon said...

Killing wives, yes. Beheading them? Not so much.

Father Anonymous said...

Dude, not funny.

BTW, I notice you still have not made your Blogger profile available. Chicken?

Anonymous said...

Well a prior attorney (Mr. B.) was the one billing Hassan's defense as going to be REVOLUTIONARY.

It's true radical feminism has favored the faulting of testicle carriers. One technique to free
the ladies from their domestic prisons was O.O.H.E.: an Out-Of-House-Experience/PROJECTION of
"THEIR abuser" with a "PROTECTION" order (as opposed to they THEM-SELVES actually fleeing the abuse/
abuser - by leaving FIRST - and then divorcing LATER).

Mr. B may have eventually pre-sented what Mr. Hassan DID SHOW: that HE tried to extricate himself SEVERAL times in several ways. Obviously nothing (in THIS cul-ture) justifies such a gruesome murder as the one he carried out, but it is not heartening when one is faced with an order keeping one from one's children.

Mr. Hassan did say that he was concerned with what his children were being exposed to. I think Assiya was probably a very good person overall. But being under so much pressure from all that con-sumed her day in this American culture in which BOTH were trying to succeed - how did she ever RELAX much?

Indeed she may have been quite difficult with Mr. Hassan. Rela-tionships are nothing if they
can't be thought of as two way streets (of communication) with great needs for cooperation.

Importantly, she did tell Mr. Hassan that she never knew any-thing about C.Protective S. or
protection orders before 2007. In other words, she was not familiar with those products of our cul-
ture (in which certain feminists - for decades - have been trying to fault every day guys with somehow wanting maniacal absolute "Control & Power". This is basically Bull Cheese-Its, cause -- among other things -- when 6 million jobs go off to China and elsewhere, they ARE going to start feeling somewhat powerLESS, and hardly gloating in feelings of power mongering ).

The ladies in the system, or products of the rad-fem culture, educated Assiya!! And the argument can be made that it was not just the divorce papers that maddened Mr. Hassan, but ALSO the
"PROTECTIVE" functions which
"PROJECTED" him away from the
children who he said he was
so concerned about ( NO REASON

As to his equating some of this with a "religion of patriatchy" un-
leashing a "blood bath", would see to be an obvious stretch.

However it should be somewhat obvious that the "PROTECTIVE" functions just mentioned could have maddened Mr. Hassan to the point of at least unleashing a local blood bath sadly showing that which is not being discussed:
PROTECTION functions DON'T NECESSARILY PROTECT -- but they may demean !

The HONOR in any purported honor killing that left a largely quite innoocent woman (Assiya) dead
may potentially remain and may be actualized if some CORRECTION is sought and realized in the manner
... (t.b.c...)

Anonymous said...

...in which the PROJECTION functions are implemented. It is theoretically conceivable that Assiya's killing could actually have been AVOIDED had the system more fairly implemented its PROTECTION functions - at least somehow in a way that HONORs the humanity of the person PROJECTED from his/her home and the lives of the children therein. The orders are given out very easily --
without the kind of due process checks and balances that could SAFEGUARD BOTH legal parties.

THAT is part of the sad underside of the PROTECTION system and which is maybe the dragon which Mr.
Hassan talked about wanting to slay (BEHEAD?) and was actually taking his fury out on. According
to the Equal Justice Foundation (of Colorado) PRO-J-ECTION orders and CPS have often been used
in divorce to gain advantage. (But again, Assiya didn't really even realize this early on, she
had to be persuaded) And is not radical feminism quite the contributing instigator in this -
and to some extent then Assiya's beheading?

In sum, most tragically, Assiya seemingly took the fall for (INSTEAD OF) the "protection" order and child "protection" system of which she can then be considered somewhat a victim (as Mr. Hassan portrayed himself as being, to perhaps TOO MANY people's distaste). The system WAS/IS in some incalculable part to BLAME (and/or be held responsible) for a sequence of events and a certain momentum that
caused Assiya to be slain by Mr. Hassan. She is then perhaps the SYMBOLIC SUBSTITUTE for the rather
sterotyping ...(of men -- still -- even though a witness for both sides implicated women significantly)... Domestic Violence system Juggernaut that Mr. Hassan could not slay or get to deal with him HONORABLY.

When will the habit attenuate of classifying men as being against women? We are not as a whole.
We generally simply seek their love in the form of respect and to give them love in form of pro-
tection. Can someone begin to hear this DOMESTIC VIOLINS and smell these DOMESTICATED VIOLETS ?

Now THAT would have been something REVOLUTIONARY for Hassan's previous attorney (Mr. B.) to have
humanely pulled off. Artfully done, it may have honored BOTH CULTURES that were indeed intertwined here, and also served to support the goodness of the vision which Mr. Hassan and Assiya sought to make a reality through their TV enterprize, before the sad loss of 4 children's mommy !

Father Anonymous said...

Okay, Anonymous. Here's the plain truth: that is the weirdest, wrongest and most frankly offensive comment on which I have ever hit the "publish" button. I only let it through so that readers could what sort of craziness we poor bloggers have to put up with.

So far as I can tell, you're trying to suggest that Hassan killed his wife because he was angry at the prospect of losing her, and his children, in a divorce. I don't disagree with that; he probably did.

What I disagree with is any attempt to make that sound less evil than it really is, or to pass any blame off on "the system" or Aasiya.

First off, she has just filed for the divorce. He hadn't gone before a judge, much less lost custody.

But second, the man had already been divorced twice, and lost custody of two children, because of his track record of domestic violence -- and he admits that he was already beating Aasiya severely. Obviously, he is prone to violence and has no capacity for handling strong emotions. A man like that couldn't possibly be trusted with children, least of all in the midst f a contested divorce. Any judge who found otherwise would be criminally negligent.

So, sure, some dads get treated poorly by the courts. But Hassan wasn't one of them, and was never going to be one. He was and is an out-of-control monster who beats up family members.

And in the end, he did much worse than beating them up. He committed a crime of unspeakable violence against a woman he had promised to protect and care for. That's not the fault of the courts, and it's not the fault of the victim: it is Hassan's fault. So let's stick to the one sentence in your post that we can both agree with: "that nothing justifies such a gruesome murder." or any other kind of murder, either.