Two years ago, when Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim was found dead with her throat slit open in her apartment in Dubai, few could have imagined that her ex-boyfriend, wealthy married Egyptian tycoon, Hisham Talaat Moustafa would not only be the prime suspect, but pretty much get away with murder. Literally.
So how does the story go? According to the New York Times something like this:
An Egyptian real estate tycoon falls in love with a Lebanese pop star. After three to four years, she decides to leave him. He pays another man $2 million to kill her. She is found dead, with her throat slit. He is found guilty of inciting and ordering the murder.
Police believe that Moustafa hired a retired Egyptian security officer to go to Dubai, knock on Suzanne Tamim’s residence dressed as a building employee, and slit her throat. Tamim and Moustafa split for good when the tycoon failed to deliver on his promises of marrying her. Rumors say Moustafa arranged to have Suzanne killed because she refused to take him back.
You would have been forgiven for thinking that Moustafa was still behind bars for his role in the murder of Suzanne, but in a dramatic turn last month the powerful real estate and politician, who is a leading member of the ruling party in Egypt, had his sentence reduced from life to 15 years in prison.
Many think he may even get to walk away from his sentencing altogether, making Moustafa the embodiment of exploitation in Egypt where “the rich and ruling elite can afford to act with disregard for legal accountability and social justice.”
Disturbing as is, perhaps what is worse is the lack of remorse Egyptian society, particularly Egyptian women, have for the singer herself:
She made him kill her, and she deserves it. If he killed her, this means she’s done something outrageous to drive him to it.
The New York Times reports that this sentiment was overwhelmingly shared by the women they spoke with. While the Times states that in a region, “where strict patriarchal traditions continue to hold female victims responsible for crimes against them by men,” the truth of the matter is that this attitude prevails not only in the Middle East, but in too many places around the world, including South Asia, where rape, sexual harassment, abortion, the demise of one’s marriage, and apparently even in cases of murder, it is the woman who is to blame.
While scholars interviewed in the New York Time’s piece trace this attitude to the whole Adam and Eve saga, I think that is one tired excuse. Yes, many feminists and scholars use the same Biblical story as the basis for the “fall of women” around the world, but I would be really depressed to even begin to think we have not moved passed this.
Seriously guys, we need to get over Eve.
What makes attitudes like this dangerous is how it reinforces notions of not only women being generally inferior to men, but also demonstrates their lives being worthless in cultures and societies that all controversies aside, need to speed things up when it comes to women’s rights. And the scariest part? How women reinforce this idea themselves to their children:
We don’t want our daughters, sisters or mothers to be or look like her. I’m glad this happened so she can be an example to our children.
Isn’t this exactly what patriarchal societies want us to believe anyway? Societies all over the world still hide and tolerate serious double-standards between the sexes, and this is an example of how Eastern and Muslim cultures allow men to get away with things women would never be able to.
Can you imagine reversing this story and think about what would have happened if Suzanne, the promiscuous pop star, had arranged the murder of her billionaire boyfriend?
Doesn’t this also quietly provide justification for honor-killings? Scorned by a woman? Have her killed. You may not only be justified in doing so, but may even get away with it legally.
Especially if you have cash like Mr. Hisham Talaat Moustaf. Goes to show that in Egypt, instead of using an opportunity to bring justice in the murder of a young woman’s life, the Government is sending a clear message that power and money are worth more in the streets of Cairo.
Sadly, the women seem to agree.