This article raises a number of interesting questions, about Iraqi Shi'ite society, about women's rights in Arab countries, about cultural relativity and about how news becomes news.
But most of all, it raises an atavistic anger in me. It makes me want to tie Abdel-Qadir Ali's genitals to a truck and to floor the accelerator. It makes me want to use a barbed wire rope.
I suspect I'm not alone in this. If you believe in free love, if you believe in unconditional love of child, if you reject a parent's ownership of a child, even if you reject private justice, then there's no way you can feel that Abdel-Qadir is a sympathetic character. This is an act so self-evidently and disgustingly wrong that it's hard not to feel a violent revulsion for it.
Yet the Iraqi police felt he'd done the right thing and apparently congratulated him. His employers haven't fired him. There's no indication that he's done anything wrong.
To remind you, this is a man who choked, suffocated and stabbed his seventeen-year old daughter to death. Because she'd fallen in love - just fallen in love, she hadn't even become involved in a physical relationship - with a British soldier.
What kind of society accepts this? Sad to say, and without wanting to come over all Christopher Hitchens on you, it's an Islamic society.
I haven't read the Koran and am in no particular hurry to do so. I don't consider it particularly relevant what exactly it says about honour killings. What's relevant is that Abdel-Qadir Ali thinks it legitimises him murdering his daughter for having emotions he doesn't like.
Worse, he's proud.
'I have only two boys from now on. That girl was a mistake in my life. I know God is blessing me for what I did,' he said, his voice swelling with pride. 'My sons are by my side, and they were men enough to help me finish the life of someone who just brought shame to ours.'
I don't know about you, but I don't consider it to be a manly act to kill a defenceless woman because she embarassed you. I'd tend to consider that a sign that you have an emotional age of around six. And I tend to think that if your imaginary bearded figure in the sky approves of this, then it's probably a good job he doesn't exist.
Of course, it's unfair to blame Allah for this. Deities aren't real - you're welcome to disagree, but unless you produce proof of the existence of one or a rational reason to suppose that one exists, I'm just going to look at you pityingly just long enough to irritate you, then I'm going to ignore you - and they don't kill people. But they certainly provide an easy excuse for people to kill people.
And of course, it's not like Islam is supremely bad in this respect. Christianity has a significant amount of blood on its hands, Hindus have killed their fair share, Sikhs have killed significantly more than their fair share, the Shinto faith isn't exactly blameless (kamikazes etc.) and whilst neo-paganism hasn't killed many people, it is supremely retarded and the belief systems it thinks it is based upon didn't condemn brutal sprees of violence in any noticeable way.
Right, now I've established my credentials as an atheist dickhead and equal-opportunity hater, let's talk about the Islamic attitude to the rights of women.
Or rather, let's talk about the absence of such rights. Let's hear from Abdel-Qadir again:
'People from western countries might be shocked, but our girls are not like their daughters that can sleep with any man they want and sometimes even get pregnant without marrying. Our girls should respect their religion, their family and their bodies.'
Notice the pride in not being like the decadent west. I'm going to take a brief pause to take pride in my decadent morality, which rejects the idea of killing women because one can't cope with people who don't subject themselves entirely to one's will. You may want to do the same.
Now let's look at exactly what he says. "their religion", "their family" and "their bodies". Notice how Abdel-Qadir Ali is full of shit and incorrect pronoun use. He doesn't for a minute believe that a daughter of his has the right to do what she wishes with her body. If he did, he'd still have a daughter.
All this outrage may be cathartic, but sadly it doesn't accomplish much. The question is what can be done about it. And unfortunately, I suspect the answer is not much. We're talking about a deeply misogynistic society, perhaps only rivalled in the Horn of Africa. We're also talking about a fundamentally anti-western society. We can't tell them to stop being dicks on this, because being a dick on this is part of their culture and they aren't about to change because a group of people they don't like tell them to.
Perhaps we could have some impact in a stable Iraq, where armed militias propagating reactionary social norms didn't control the streets, but even then there wouldn't be much change. And plenty would still yearn for the old days. Hell, there's a substantial body of opinion that still yearns for outdated gender roles here in Britain. The only difference is that our Overton window isn't stuck in the seventh century. And besides, a stable Iraq is a pipe dream for at least a decade.
Some might ask if it is right to try to intervene. Aren't all cultures of equal worth? The answer is simple: no. If your culture oppresses the powerless, if it makes some people second-class citizens due to circumstances of their birth, then on that your culture is wrong. That's not to say we should all have the same monoculture, that's just to say that those who indulge in cultural relativism over these issues are moral cowards legitimising abhorrent behaviour. I'm sorry if you find this attitude dismissive, but that's because I'm sorry that you think such a principle shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. There is right and there is wrong and if you aren't prepared to argue for your definition of right and wrong, then you don't really believe in it. And if Abdel-Qadir is going to argue for his morality, we damn well have to argue for ours and against his.
To return to my previous question, what can we do? We can't eliminate gender-bias in thinking or any other kind of discrimination, but we have to marginalise it. I could live with a separation of church and state, as in Turkey and the USA, but that's not enough. A more progressive form of Islam is needed, one that accepts that the world has changed since Heraclius was the Roman Emperor and that the morality within the Koran is not absolute.
Unfortunately, what I'm essentially arguing for is Islamic Anglicanism, and Anglicanism is the ideal religion for an atheist, since it doesn't really matter what you believe. So I'm at something of an impasse. Progress has been made in some areas - the Hudood Ordinance is no more - but not enough. When a sign of advance is the Saudi government considering allowing women to drive, you know the situation is bad.
In the end, I just find myself throwing up my arms in the air and praying that I'm wrong and there is a god, or at least a devil, and that Abdel-Qadir Ali will face a wailing and a gnashing of teeth. There's no obvious solution to this that I know of, only a feeling that there ought to be vengeance for this.