Muslim TV Exec beheading & honor killing suspect: I was abused by my wife

Muslim TV Exec beheading & honor killing suspect: I was abused by my wife

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

25 January 2010: Muzzammil “Mo” HASSAN, the founder and chief executive officer of Buffalo, NY based Muslim station Bridges TV, and the man who is charged with the beheading of his wife, claims through his attorney that he was the victim of spousal abuse. According to his newly hired attorney Frank Bogulski, the petite victim, Aasiya Zubair (HASSAN), several inches shorter and at least a hundred pounds lighter than HASSAN, was allegedly abusive to her TV Exec husband, who is being portrayed as the actual victim in this case.

As initially reported, HASSAN, 45, was charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death and beheading of his wife at the offices of Bridges TV, an all-Islamic TV network co-founded by HASSAN in 2004, ironically to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims.  Buffalo based attorney Frank Bogulski was retained at HASSAN’s hearing in Buffalo on Friday, after HASSAN fired James Harrington, the attorney who had been representing him for the last year.  Bogulski plans an aggressive defense that will include both psychiatric and abuse issues.

News reports note that the allegations of abuse were countered with skepticism by Nancy Sanders, a former news director who worked with the couple at the TV station. She referenced the size disparity between Muzzammil HASSAN and his wife, stating that HASSAN stood over 6 feet tall and his body “filled a doorway.” Additionally, she stated that she “never ever heard her disparage him in the workplace at all. It just did not seem to be in her nature. She was very gentle.”

Psychiatric and allegations of abuse aside, perhaps HASSAN does, in fact, consider himself a legitimate victim in this matter. In order to accept that as plausible, it is necessary to temporarily abandon traditional Western mindset and understand the concepts associated with fundamental Islam.

HASSAN & the denial of honor killings

Clearly, the murder of Aasiya HASSAN was tragic. She was the mother of two young children born during her marriage to Muzzammil “Mo” HASSAN and two teenagers from a previous marriage. She lived with the suspect and her children in an upscale suburb of Buffalo and worked with him at the television station until the day of her murder. Despite appearances, however, not everything was rosy in the HASSAN household. A week before she was decapitated, she filed for divorce from her husband.

Even under normal circumstances, the strain of an impending divorce could be sufficient to cause those with a propensity for violence to react violently. Among Muslim families, the concern for one’s honor and the perceived shame cast by such actions could have exponentially worse consequences. Because it is a Muslim on Muslim crime, not fully understood by some members of law enforcement, and virtually ignored within the corporate media, honor killings are usually relegated to the broader statistical classification of domestic violence.

In the U.S. and Canada, law enforcement and prosecutors have been quick to limit the cause of the murder, rape, assault of a spouse, or even a child or sibling to the broader definition of domestic violence, even among families that adhere to the strict tenets of Islam. They have been proportionately slow to differentiate between incidents of murder or attempted murder, assault, rape and other crimes of violence in Muslim families against those of non-Islamic families. It is the form of domestic violence no one wants to acknowledge, yet honor killings in Islam serve as a contributing factor, if not the prime motive, in certain instances of domestic violence.

In many instances, including the case of Muzzammil HASSAN, the mere mention of honor killing within Islamic families as a motive for murder brings a visceral response and denials if its existence from some members of the Muslim community.

On February 19, 2009, this investigator was a guest on Tom Bauerle Show on WBEN AM 930 in Buffalo, a large radio station heard throughout Western NY, southern Ontario and western Pennsylvania. As reported by Canada Free Press the same day, there is always more to the story than authorities are willing to publicly admit and the media is willing to publish. The audio of the broadcast, compliments of Canada Free Press, can be accessed at this link.

During that show, we discussed the concept of honor killings in Islam, citing numerous instances of murder and attempted murder in North America that appear to be on the rise and that transcend the simple issue of domestic violence. Following that show, we received instant and rabid responses from some members of the Islamic community in Western NY that honor killings are not permitted in Islam.

Despite vociferous denials from Khalid Qazi, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) of Western New York, a report based on extensive research by Phyllis Chesler in The Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2009, Volume XVI, Number 2) into the act of honor killings was published shortly after the airing of that broadcast. Her report provides a sufficient rebuttal to Qazi and others who refuse to acknowledge the concept of honor killing in Islam.

The report titled Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence references the HASSAN case. The preface to the research contained in that report, written by the editors, perhaps offers the best summary of the denial related to honor killings [emphasis added by this author]:

On February 12, 2009, Muzzammil Hassan informed police that he had beheaded his wife. Hassan had emigrated to the United States 30 years ago and, after a successful banking career, had founded Bridges TV, a Muslim-interest network which aims, according to its website, “to foster a greater understanding among many cultures and diverse populations.” Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III told The Buffalo News that “this is the worst form of domestic violence possible,” and Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, told the New York Post that Islam forbids such domestic violence. While Muslim advocacy organizations argue that honor killings are a misnomer stigmatizing Muslims for what is simply domestic violence, a problem that has nothing to do with religion, Phyllis Chesler, who just completed a study of more than 50 instances of North American honor killings, says the evidence suggests otherwise. — The Editors

Following Friday’s hearing, the usual posturing between the prosecution and defense took place in front of reporters:

“The spouse was the dominant figure in this relationship,” attorney Frank Bogulski said outside the courtroom. “He was the victim. She was verbally abusive. She had humiliated him.”

“He chopped her head off. That’s all I have to say about Mr. Hassan’s apparent defense that he was a battered spouse.” - District Attorney Frank Sedita, Erie County, NY.

Admittedly, cases are not adjudicated on the steps of the courthouse of in the media. Nonetheless, the media’s deliberate unwillingness to address the issue of honor killings is not only disingenuous in this case, it is endangering the lives of other potential victims, such as the more celebrated minors like Rifqa Bary.

Fear of being labeled culturally or religiously insensitive is impeding the proper identification of motives behind domestic violence in Islamic households. Until such time as honor killings receive as much attention as other crimes of violence, the blood of those killed for the sake of honor will continue to be shed, and will continue to be on the hands on those who continue to obfuscate the truth.


Beheading in Buffalo- at Muslim TV Station

7 January 2005 Inquiry to Mr. Hassan: Is Bridges TV – broadcasting al Manar?

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