by Adam Grannick for the Moral Courage Project
A woman’s chastity is the property of her family? No excuse to abuse or kill your girls, treating ‘em like property…
These are the words of Michigan-based hip-hop artist Zulfiqar “Zufi” Bakhtiari. Born in Pakistan and raised in the United States, Zufi has decided to tackle the hot-button issue of honor culture and honor killing.
This issue strikes very close to Zufi’s home. He had heard about honor killings back in Pakistan, but then he found out about a similar murder within his own community in Lansing. He was shaken, and knew he couldn’t stay silent about it. “I grew up in a household with really strong women,” Zufi explains.
Approximately 26 women are murdered every year in the United States alone in the name of protecting their family’s honor. In fact, Zufi’s research for the song revealed that murders in the name of protecting family honor are present in many different cultures.
Zufi understands that his work can be controversial to many within his community. Music alone is considered forbidden by the very religious. And even though the practice of honor killing is widely condemned, Zufi’s discussion of it in such an open way is often seen as airing the community’s dirty laundry. He disagrees, though, and says it is the duty of every person—men, especially—to speak up on this issue.
“I’m proud to be Muslim,” he replies. “We get enough [bad press] in the news or in the media. And I feel like if we don’t speak out against this, it’s just going to be used against us. So let’s take these issues that we’re afraid to talk about, and talk about them.”
This short clip of Zulfiqar, featuring clips of his song, is a great example of how we can all turn our creative talents to a good purpose.