“Honor is more precious than my own flesh and blood.” So stated Marzouk Abdel Rahim, a Cairo tile maker, who stabbed his 25-year-old daughter to death at her boyfriend’s house in 1997. He was released from prison two months after the murder.

Across the world, primarily in but not limited to countries in the Middle East, women are victims of so-called “honor killings,” in which a family member murders the woman in order to cleanse the family name from some unpardonable sin. The transgression is usually a question of the woman’s chastity, and can range from actual adultery, to being seen with a man who is not a family member, to the woman being a victim of rape.

In this print, I chose to illustrate two young women reading a book. While Islam advocates the education of women, the education of women is nevertheless an issue in some ultra-conservative Islamic societies, so the simple act of reading may itself spark violence against a woman.

The background pattern is based on the warp and weave of thread, to give us an idea of how it may be to view the world through a full burka.

I used green ink since that color is linked to Islam, though there is some discussion as to the reason. Some say green was Muhammad’s favorite color and that he wore a green cloak and turban. Others believe that it symbolizes nature and life, hence the physical manifestation of God. In the Qur’an, it is said that the inhabitants of paradise will wear green garments of fine silk.

Independence of mind, body, and soul are worthy goals of all humans. Embracing the radical idea that women are also fully human, I hope this print helps remind viewers all that the goal of independence is still a long way off for some of us, and the price for pursuing it can be very high, indeed.

Linoleum block print with text overlay on acrylic, 2009
Edition of 12
Printed on Rives BFK using Daniel Smith water-soluble inks

This print, along with two others of mine, is included in “In Memoriam: Women’s Lives Taken by Violence” in the Signature Salon at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda, California. The show runs through September 26, 2009. The opening reception is part of the First Fridays celebration, and takes place on Friday, September 5, from 7 to 9pm.

Other events related to the exhibit will take place throughout September, and include a showing of the film Until the Violence Stops, as well as poet Patricia Edith reading from her new book, 8 Student Nurses and other Dead Girls.

1 thought on “Honor

  1. Congrats on being in the “Memoriam” show & I hope you have a good time at the opening tonight, even tho it’s a rather somber topic.
    As far as green & Islam – you can always tell a Muslim-run business here in Newark, NJ & surrounding area as they will all have a bright green awning with the store name on it.

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