So what do you make of the events?
It was a very sad day that radical extremists decided to attack free speech in Paris. The history of free speech and making fun of the religious leaders dates back to the 1800s at least, so this was an attack at the heart of what is France and the West. It struck a cord with most democratic societies from all walks of life, since it is a basis for a functioning democracy and a tale tale sign if you are in an autocracy or theocracy.
How do you think artists responded?
For artists, it really strikes a nerve in the sense that what you draw can get you killed. All artists are aware of cases like the “Satanic Verses” driving the author to live a secluded secret life for a decade thanks to the declaration or fatwa of an Iranian cleric to a death sentence. The crazy thing is this fatwa cannot be rescinded since the original imam died, so it is still in place technically in Iranian islamic law. All creatives are aware of the danger of pissing off these radical societies where one form of religion is put above individual rights as “honor”. Hell, they even kill people for adultery in some places as part of an “honor killing” sick as it sounds.
Are these honor killings only in the most Islamic countries?
The UN estimates that up to 5,000 women are killed every year for honor crimes in the Middle East and South Asia. These killings are varied: strangulation, acid throwing, hanging, throat slashing, beheading, stoning, stabbing and shooting. In these cultures of nomadic peoples men create the honor while women can destroy that honor. The honor is seen as the highest esteem of reputation and the basis for their justice system.
Were these honor killings of women ever in the West?
Back in Ancient Rome, adulterous women were killed and during medieval times Jews would kill adulterous women as well. Note, that both intersected the Middle East cultures as well, so there is a long regional tradition stemming from the Middle East area. As Islam has spread, you have seen these ideas spread to central Africa.
Have you painted anything related to this honor killing theme?
Black Widow in the Garden of Eden – 24×48
Not exactly, but I do have a related painting related to women’s honor role in a tribal Islamic society in Chechnya called “Black Widow in the Garden of Eden”. This young couple met a dire fate: the husband was killed by Putin’s army against Chechen rebel leaders and his young widow joined a suicide bomber group – the Black Widows. Part of the reason behind her decision to join the group was her lack of choice within her culture. As a widow, she would likely never be remarried because under “honor” the men only want virgin brides. So her choice was to be single the rest of her life or leave her tribe and culture. To regain “honor” of her fallen husband she joined this Black Widows group. Her “job” was to bomb the metro station in Moscow, Russia.
The Power of the Have Nots 3/10 – 10×10
Another related painting series was the attack on Malala Yousafzai called the “Power of the Have Nots”. In this case a young girl was blogging about life under the Taliban in Pakistan and standing up for girl education. The Taliban saw this as an afront to Islamic extreme version of male honor with women to be subservient to their rule and tried to assassinate this girl. Luckily, she was saved and brought to London to continue her struggle for girl education in her homeland of Pakistan. Unfortunately, local tribes see this as a CIA plot to split their society, which isn’t totally far fetched after the CIA did in fact use vaccination workers to track the location of Osama Bin Laden. Now these same tribes are not getting vaccinated and driving the increase in untreatable tuberculosis. So you have to ask yourself was killing Osama Bin Laden worth the spread of an near-extinct curable disease?
So do you think these types of attacks are justified?
Not by Western terms, but within these tribal societies governed by honor, they believe they are maintaining their honor within their own communities. Without honor, you have few friends, likely no job connections and maybe even no job. So do you have a choice really if you stay within these tribes? Hard to say what one would do if you grew up within these complex tribal societies and saw no exit but to abandon your country, family and friends.
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Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact