A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

On the Honour of 2007

The Associated Press on January 25, 2007 reported that the first honor killing of 2007 in Jordan occurred when a father fatally shot his 17-year-old daughter. Source.

It is not often that I find myself too disgusted to even want to write about something. Shu hal sharaf il ma beswa ta3reefeh?

Of course though, what is worth even less than this man, his life, and his honor is article 340 of the Penal Code of Jordanian law. I want to yell, to scream, to tear up the newspaper. What makes it much worse is that the people responsible for upholding article 340 of the Penal Code is the Lower House of Parliament, elected by the people, elected by us.


What the hell? What kind of sick society do we live in?

(image courtesy of Ahmed Khalidi)


Redesigning Coca-Cola


… and toot takes home the GOLD!


  1. Unfortunately such criminals are protected by the law… I’d really like to take a tour inside the mind of a father, a brother, an uncle who has shot, strangled, burned, stabbed his own blood and flesh in the name of honor! in most cases these girls are ‘virgins’…but even if she wasn’t! it is extremely sick and disgusting that we use a tissue to measure honor …it is extremely vulgar that assumptions lead one to commit some of the most atrocious crimes — all in the name of honor…the type of honor i am not sure I fully understand the meaning of… if honor is equated to virginity, then by all means fuck that honor! and what’s even more barbaric is that such crimes are protected under the law!

  2. Who has more honor, a man who has murdered his own kin, or a man who has taken care of the issue, peacefully? I just wonder
    People should be discrete about these matters and resolve them instead of complicate them.
    The problem is that the name of Islam is often smeared as being the law on this matter. When Islam ordered discretion, and Death is not the penalty for it.
    It’s really really sad.

  3. Q, it has much more of a cultural connotation than a religious one!

  4. Ayyob

    And thats why arab countries are third world countries. Our laws are damned retarded. What the hell makes it ok for a father or a brother to kill his own daughter because of honor. Isnt honor to protect your family? Isnt honor to do everything you can to keep such matters discrete and hidden from everyone around you? Such stupid actions are not only wrong, but such criminals should be punished to the full extend of the law. I dont care what country you live in. Killing someone from your own family because of honor is wrong. Everyone in our society knows what “sharaf” is and do what they can to protect it.

  5. Ayyob

    people knowing they can do such things and get away with it only makes matters worse.

  6. Everyone in our society knows what “sharaf” is and do what they can to protect it.

    No, I don’t think so … I mean, obviously sharaf has some sick, nonsensical meaning attached to it ..which explains its pathetic protection under the law!

  7. Swami

    Rouba, thanks for writing about this…I know that a lot of people in Jordan are appalled by these crimes.

    What worries me though is that all the people who are against this either talk about it with people who think the same, write about it in the newspapers or on the internet, but i have never seen or hear of anyone attempting to organise something on the streets to voice people’s opposition to article 340, for example a sit-in in the streets, or a candle-lit vigil, a silent demostration or start a campaign!

    It’s a shame but i do think people in Jordan are lacking the guts to do something substantial (i’m not forgetting the huge turn-out on the streets and events of support after the bombings but it is equally important to react to such issues and others within the community)

    Would be interested to hear what you think, or if you know of any such efforts…

  8. disgusting.. stupid .. sick ..

  9. I had been holding my breath, hoping we could get through January before the first one of 2007.

    Even sicker that as recently as, when was it, a petition with 10,000 signatures condemning this legislatively sanctioned brutality didn’t make one bit of difference.

  10. ayyob

    Kinzi, with the thinking of our legislators, you can have 1,000,000 signatures wont make a difference.
    I think this is because in our society, Religion is strongly linked to Government
    Im not saying the two shoulod be seperated beacause they really can’t but easing it up alittle can hold alot of benefit to everyone.

  11. Ayyob,

    If our society and government is to implement the religion accurately in its way of life and laws, then honor crimes should not exist to begin with let alone be protected under the ‘law.’

    For example, with fornication you need to have 4 male-equivalent witnesses…so you need to actually have these 4 witnesses see the woman and man in the action with their own two eyes…and after that, the punishment – Islamically – is 80 whips for each, equally. So no where in the religion does it call for the killing of an individual…and you have to understand and always keep in mind that in nearly all ‘honor’ crime cases, there are no 4 witnesses, there is no proof and the action is entirely based on mere assumption …and the girl is found and proven a virgin.

    If the religion cannot be accurately and fairly presented in the government, then leaving it completely out is much better for society!

  12. Ayyob

    I see your point.
    I am guessing that the law gives a low punishment for people who kill for honor in most arab countries. How come its not done anywhere else in the world? Why does only our society say its ok for a father to kill his daughter if she commits adultery while not married. No matter what the case is, noone has the right to ever take anyone’s else’s life away. not a father, not a mother, not even a king. do you not agree with me?
    I mean what disgusts me is that this “father” if convicted will probably be out of jail before the current school year is over. Is that really fair? and after ward he wont have to feel guilty about it because he technically paid his debt to society. And for his daughter, her life has ended because his dumbass though that she is ruining his honor. For god’s sake she turned out a virgin. Just that fact should get him life in prison.

  13. Kel

    Beyond terrible/disgusting/shocking/barbaric, etc.

  14. anonymous

    Our honour is defined and well contained between our legs. Preserve our honour.

  15. Roba,

    I have been thinking about this for a week now, and I’m just as pissed off as you are about it, but I must point out the following:

    article 340 of the Jordanian penal code was only applied in one (some say two) case(s) in the entire history of the kingdom.

    Article 340 explicitly says that the killer only receives a reduced sentence if they witnessed the victim in the act of having sex and committed the murder right then and there. This article however discriminates between males and females because for females, it says that the female only gets the reduced sentence if she witnessed the act of having sex by her husband being done in their house of marriage, which we know is pure bull shit of course.

    But that doesn’t matter, because article 340 is not what gets applied in the 14-20 cases that happen every year.

    The real culprit is the judges own discretion in applying article 98, which is the “fit of fury” article. This article exists in almost every penal code in the world. When someone commits a crime “in a fit of fury” they get a reduced sentence. Keep in mind this could still be measured in years of imprisonment, not the 6 months that seem to be widely standard in Jordan.

    The problem is not in legal writing, it’s in application. Our judges are simply not being fair, when they treat someone who plotted for the murder of someone else for weeks as someone who committed a crime in a fit of fury.

    Two brothers once drove from Irbid to Amman, killed their sister there, then drove all the way to Kerak and dumped her body there. That is not a crime committed in a fit of fury, that is a crime that was planned.

    Much of the attention and arguing is focussed on the wrong problem, which is article 340 of the law. While that article certainly adds no benefit, it is currently not causing the harm when it comes to honor crimes.

    It’s not even article 98 itself, it is the judges’ own discretion when they agree to apply article 98 to these cases.

    One point that can be argued for though in the law, is the fact that some families choose to have their under 18 sons commit these killings because they know that they won’t be tried as adults. Some countries have legislation that tries under 18 folks as adults depending on the crime. This is something that we in Jordan should carefully adopt too especially to fight these incidents.

  16. Hamzeh, thanks for the comment, it is very insightful. I didn’t realize that only one case in the history of Jordan was tried under article 340.

    Swami, I definitely agree. It is time for more grassroot effects by the people themselves.. there’s so much ignorance! Anybody has any ideas on how we bloggers could possibly do anything?

  17. answering your questions .
    it’s a sexoholic society .. a week ago i wrote something concerning that ..
    check my blog ..
    Keep up your good work

  18. المتخلفون في الأرض

  19. I agree with you totaly Hamza ,,and I add that its not the low problem or even the judges because all that will begin after the crime I wonder what shall we do to stop this tragedy before it happen (protictive action).
    we must study what makes some sociaty traditions stronger more than basic Instincts as childs love ???.

  20. An Arab Girl :(

    i came accross this on alarabiya net and initially i thought like one of the people commenting here that most Jordanians are against this, but unfortunately after reading the responses on the forum, i was shocked to the bone!!!!
    for those who have the patience of saints, please read:

  21. Mohannad Al majathoub

    No one can justify killing and especially when to end your own life. Real understanding can solve any problem. No harm if the Arab girls being honest and clear with her family about her relationship and behavior.
    Please do not blame the parents only and think how the whole society would react to the girl who could have love relationship. Would Arab man ever accept the idea of getting married to a girl who has relations in the part (who does not).
    In Saudi Arabia, the situation is much worse, it is illegal if to talk to girls in public.
    Before we ask for a change in the law we have to change the society (people)……

  22. I cant comment really…… and i cant see why is this happening around us, but what iam sure that its in our hand to do something…
    just cant get how this father or brother has the heart to do this maaaaan, its your own daughter whatever she did iam sure if you love her right you will forgive her !!

  23. When we say that this society is governed by traditions rather than religion bnet7arab..
    when we say this society underestimates females bnet7arab..
    when we say arab communities opress women bnet7arab..
    come on, people…
    middle eastern communities soemtimes really sucks!
    its just disappointing…
    God says in the holy Qor2an:
    “و اذا الموؤودة سئلت. بأي ذنب قتلت”
    Come on! Almighty God will ask her father on the day of judgement: why did you kill her?
    What is he gonna answer? “God, sorry, but you haven’t been firm enough, i know my daughterbetter than you… i had to kill her…”

  24. HeiGou

    Iman:”If our society and government is to implement the religion accurately in its way of life and laws, then honor crimes should not exist to begin with let alone be protected under the ‘law.’”

    How can you make that claim? Why do you believe that? Let’s go through this step by step. Do you agree that honor killings are most common among Muslims and people who have lived for a long time under Muslim rule? That they are more or less unheard of in Christian and Buddhist countries where, as a general rule, if someone sexually assaults your daughter, you kill *him* if anyone at all? Would you agree there is something peculiar here in punishing the *girl* for a sexual act committed by a *man* she may not even have consented to? Why do you think that is?

    Imam:”For example, with fornication you need to have 4 male-equivalent witnesses…so you need to actually have these 4 witnesses see the woman and man in the action with their own two eyes…and after that, the punishment – Islamically – is 80 whips for each, equally.”

    Unless one of them is married in which case it is a stoning. OK. That is the requirement you need to implement the Hudud punishment for zina. But, and this is a big but, are Muslims commanded to do no more than the hudud punishment? Are they forbidden to impose other legal punishments? Surely you would agree that in cases where there is a lack of proof, a judge can still impose a ta’zir (تعزي) punishment if society demands it? Would you also agree that the implementation of the law is obligatory on the community as a whole – as long as some people are doing it, the rest of the Muslims do not need to worry, but if someone in authority is not doing it, or doing it badly, it is *obligatory* on the Muslims at large to enforce the law properly? Would you then agree that all Muslims have an obligation to prevent other Muslims from committing crimes? And hence that fathers have an Islamic obligation to punish their daughters if they sin?

    Imam:”So no where in the religion does it call for the killing of an individual…and you have to understand and always keep in mind that in nearly all ‘honor’ crime cases, there are no 4 witnesses, there is no proof and the action is entirely based on mere assumption …and the girl is found and proven a virgin.”

    Except nowhere in the religion does it punish such killings either. After all, murder in Islam is half-crime and half-tort. The procedure at trial is for the judge to ask the family of the deceased if they want to forgive the murderer and accept diya or have him executed. So in cases of honor killings, the deceased’s next of kin would be asked if they want to execute their other family member or let them off. Tough choice. Suppose a Father sends his son to kill his daughter. You think that he, as the guardian who makes the decision on diya, will have his son executed? He will opt for diya. Which he will pay himself. And his son will walk free. This is not a minor flaw in Islam – it is central to Islamic law on murder.

    Of course in other countries, they would kill the man, but in Islamic countries, the man would have family who might not opt for payment.

    Imam:”If the religion cannot be accurately and fairly presented in the government, then leaving it completely out is much better for society!”

    You cannot pick and choose which parts of your religion you like. I hate honor killings, I cannot respect the law that allows them, but I feel sorry for people who are forced into this situation. When a girl is publically shamed, everyone treats the family like they are shameless. Their boys are insulted on the streets as less than men. Their girls are unmarriageable. Everyone knows they can be insulted with impunity. What other choice do they have but to kill the girl?

  25. manal

    …الشرف ان نحمي بناتنا من هذة القوانين البالة…التي تعود العصور الظلام..

  26. Well, I share the same sentiment, but I really gave up. Every other day, I read the same old story in the Jordan Times, and I honestly relinquished all hope that this habit might die.

    The thing that these people do not understand, is that they are eventually losing, they lost a daughter, for the sake of something that hardly exists, for something so intangible, and for something that we all lack. They lost, and stole, a human being’s life, for something that doesn’t exist. Do you understand the gravity of this? Do you understand, that everyday from now, this family will always remember that daughter, and no, they will not remember that she commited so and so, and no, they will not remember that she might have had sex, but in fact, they will remember how their daughter used to smile, laugh, and talk during dinner. They will not remember why she died, but in fact, they will remember who killed her; they will only have those feelings of hate towards the father. And they will only remember the her father stole her life. This absurd “honor” story, will fade away, and only the memory of her will live. And that’s when it finally strikes them, that they did lose their daughter, and the father will feel so shitty about himself, that he might even bury himself alive. I so wish that day is soon.

    And what’s even more depressing, is that this is a clear result of our village mentality that bred such actions, and even imposed accepting such actions and encouraging them. Our village mentality forces us to care about what others think, thanks to the endless gossip sessions. Our village mentality ties us and confines us to adhere to the rules and regulations of a law, constructed by the grandfathers of these villages; a whole set of rules that never saw or witnessed any form of improvement. The thing, is that we still continue to inherit the same mentality from our grandfathers, instead of breaking free from these social laws.

    The tragedy, is that we are still restricted to laws imposed on us, by our greater grandfathers, by laws that were planned out centuries ago. We do not bother to dream, or aspire, or to achieve, simply because our dreams are killed, before their birth, by people we do not even know or care about; people that existed and died centuries ago.

    And honestly, it’s really up to us, and up to our generation. Either we break free from these rules and laws, or either we die with them, and inherit them to our children, and put them through the same old s***. Think of it this way; either it stops now, or it’ll continue to eat us up alive.

    I know, too dramatic, and this sort of came up out of the blue, but honestly, I’m just sick of Jordanian’s approach and outlook towards life, it’s about time things change in this country. Because it’s the people who feel, think, process and develop who are going insane, while the ones who are too dumb, or too immersed in their culture of shame, are taking this whole life as a free ride, and continue to shit on everything around them, and continue to screw things up for us, simply, because the “law” protects them.

    The law, is not supposed to protect the ignorant, nor is it supposed to protect idiots and the melodramatic, but in Jordan, the law protects those who are too dumb to think for themselves, and simply resort to complying with the rules of society, because, they’re too shallow, and too dumb, to come up with something remotely different than what we are accustomed to.

  27. Jordanian citizen

    The reason for honor killings is one and one only: there is no accountability for males. if men were held accountable for their actions, they would not go around messing with banat il 3alam, knowing fully well that any perceived relation may very well condemn the girl by her father, brother etc. the same people who claim it is for ‘honor’ do not have issues going around with other peoples daughters, sisters etc. that is the problem. It is the idea that a guy can get with as many girls as he wants, but if a girl is perceived to have had any questionable relations with a guy, then she is a slut. until you fine men commenting here stand up for what is right, such things will continue to happen.

  28. Eva

    I am not an Arab but I am sure glad that this discussion board is here. There is nothing honor about taking someone’s life. I think that some countries stress too much emphasis on virginity and the purity of women. It seem like virginity is the most important thing in life. Where is the purity for men? And when it comes to purity – Find me one person who is pure in any way and I mean in their thoughts, their actions and in their language towards others. The males who commit these crimes are not pure and definitely not pure after the act. How a murder can be an honored person in the family? What is worst- The female not being a virgin or the fact that you are a murderer? Would you rather hang out with non virgin girl or a murderer? Well as it goes for me I would be friend with non virgin but I would stay far away form murderer. It is sad for me to see that many males (and this is also true in western countries) see them selves as something more than females. Love is for the good and for the bad. If you are a family how can you kill your own daughter or sister and call yourself family orientated?

  29. mohannad al majathoub

    Today, I was reading this articale in Alhayat and it shows how Islam looks at the problem.
    Worth reading it.
    «… مفتي سورية يطالب بتعديل الاسباب المخففة في «جرائم الشرف»

    مفتي سورية الشيخ أحمد بدر حسون «الشرف: قيم واخلاق أم احكام وحدود؟.
    «هل يصان الشرف بالقيم والاخلاق ام بالاحكام والحدود؟»، قال: «من لا تصنه قيمة واخلاق لا تصنه الاحكام والحدود». ودخل في اطروحة صريحة في معنى الشرف مع ملاحظة ان «أكثر أبناء أمتنا ربط الشرف بالأنثى. أي شرف الرجل في زوجته وابنته وأمه وأخته»، قبل ان يؤكد على ان «أول انتهاك للشرف هو انتهاك كرامة الأمة».

    : « لا يحكمني قانون اذا لم اقتنع به. القناعة تأتي من وجوب ان يكون القانون عادلاً»، : «جريمة الشرف في رسالات الانبياء، كانت في محورها كيف نعيد المخطئ الى رحاب الله وليس كيف نقتله»،

  30. Petra

    I am just now reading these comments, so sorry for joining the discussion late.

    Kinzi, the petition drive to overturn Article 340 occurred in the last months of 1999 and in the early months of 2000. On February 14, 2000, there was a march to overturn it, but nothing much came of any of that in terms of substantive change for these at-risk girls and women. Worse, rather than overturn Article 340, the Parliamentarians changed its wording so that now, women, too, can benefit from a reduction in sentence should they wish to perform an “honor” killing. Talk about your unintended consequences!!!

    Hamzeh N., you make some very good points. In fact, regarding Article 340, the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament once told me that it has never been applied in an “honor” killings case, so you are right in that it is somewhat pointless to focus too much on that article of the penal code. I happen to think the petition drive and the march were more symbolic actions than meaningful ones, but life-and-death situations call for more substantive moves.

    Hamzeh N., you also wrote about the application of the law. Yes, it’s a problem that Article 98 is often used in cases where the crimes are pretty obviously premeditated. But it’s also a problem that there are no minimum sentencing guidelines. I think the judges are given too much discretion in these cases. There really ought to be at least a minimum sentence for murder. Three months, six months, two years–especially when the clock starts ticking the minute the perpetrator turns himself into the police–is just not enough. If it takes six months for a case to be tried and the judge applies only a three- or a sixth-month sentence, the perpetrator walks free, having in effect served no time. This just isn’t fair.

    Roba and Wedad, you asked what can be done. There is a new book out on this subject entitled “Reclaiming Honor in Jordan.” I think it is the first book on this topic to be published about the Jordanian situation. In it, the author details the findings of a nationwide survey of public opinion on this subject and suggests how the true meaning of honor might be restored in Jordan. It is a self published book, so anyone who wants a copy will have to obtain it through the author by writing to

    Mohannad, according to the research findings documented in the book I just referenced, society is already on board for a change in the laws. Most people in Jordan already know right from wrong, and that is good news. So holding back progress just because a few backward people aren’t on board really isn’t a good excuse for maintaining the status quo. I know that has been an excuse used in the past, but the empirical evidence quite clearly shows that most Jordanians know right from wrong and would already support toughening the penalties for these crimes.

    Pheras, I feel and share your pain. :-(

    Good comments, all.

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