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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 08, 2003

Death by Honor

Newsday.com book review reads like a soap opera, but with murderous consequences
At age 26, Dalia, a Muslim woman in Amman, Jordan, fell in love with a handsome officer of the Royal Guard. She secretly held his hand, and twice they even kissed.

Dalia's father learned only part of the truth: that his daughter had slipped his constant surveillance to meet a man on her own. But that was enough. He took a kitchen knife, stabbed Dalia 12 times in the chest and forbade anyone to call an ambulance until she lay dead in their home.

Minutes later, Dalia's best friend, Norma Khouri, arrived. The two had been like sisters since childhood, attending school and then working together. Dalia's father, still enraged, roared at her: "How long has she been shaming me and dishonoring my good name?"

Seven years later, Khouri has fled Jordan to avenge her friend's death. Speaking softly in a quiet corner of the Millennium Broadway Hotel off Times Square last month, she is giving her 20th interview of the day to publicize the book in which she tells the story of Dalia's murder. Khouri is campaigning to change the laws and tribal customs that - in Jordan and many Middle Eastern countries - permit men to commit such "honor killings."

Khouri's book, "Honor Lost" (Simon & Schuster, $24), is possibly the most explicit, dramatic account in print of one of these killings, which are protected by a code of silence. Simply telling the story is an act for which Khouri is sure her own father would kill her, and for which Arab men are now e-mailing her death threats. [more]