The idea that the murder of young Rand was the aberration of a monster is obviously contradicted by the facts:
[A]s Rand was put into the ground, without ceremony, her uncles spat on her covered corpse because she had brought shame on the family. ...And, of course, Abdel-Qader Ali did not himself kill his wife.
Her mother, "screamed and called out for her two brothers so they could get their father away from her. But when he told them the reason, instead of saving her they helped him end her life." ...
The murdering father boasts, "The [police] officers were by my side during all the time I was there, congratulating me on what I had done."
It is possibly the case that Leila's murder was incidental.
Police said the incident was a sectarian attack and that there was nothing to link Leila's death to her family. 'Her ex-husband was not in Basra when it happened. We found out he was visiting relatives in Nassiriya with his two sons,' said Hassan Alaa, a senior officer at the local police station in Basra. 'We believe the target was the women activists, rather than Mrs Hussein, and that she was unlucky to be in that place at that time.'But that's no excuse.
It is plausible. Campaigners for women's' rights are not acceptable to many sections of Iraqi society, especially in Basra where militias have partial control in some districts and impose strict laws on locals, including what clothing they should wear and what religious practice they should follow.
Islamic apologists will (and probably already have) made the argument that it is Iraqi culture, not the Islamic religion, that is responsible for these brutal murders. They are, in a sense, correct. The Islamic religion is not responsible, because there is no such thing as the Islamic religion: there is no such thing as religion.
I mean by "no such thing as religion" that there are no gods. All religion lacks extensional meaning. Religion does not refer to anything at all in objective reality.
But of course there is some such thing as religion. Lacking extensional meaning, religion can have only intensional meaning. Religion refers to a set of ideas within our heads. And the ideas that religion refer to are invariably pernicious: social, cultural constructs that are falsely and fallaciously given the imprimatur of objective truth. And it is precisely this religious component of Islamic culture that is directly responsible for these brutal murders.
Very few people, I would imagine, would be willing to suborn murder, rape, segregation and marginalization on their personal preference. The guy who says, "Women who disgrace and dishonor their families must die because it's the truth that God wants it that way," sounds like a righteous paragon of morality; the guy who says, "Women who don't toe the line should be murdered just because I hate those fucking bitches," just sounds like a complete asshole.
Without the imprimatur of objective truth, when people are forced to take personal responsibility for their moral beliefs, the murderous misogyny of Islamic religious culture would have evaporated five hundred years ago.
The religious "moderates" aid and abet this extremism by supporting and endorsing the idea that there is some definite truth to the way God wants things, as opposed to the way we ourselves want things. It's completely irrelevant that the moderates claim that God wants all the same thing that sensible, civilized, empathic and feeling human beings want. It should be enough just that sensible, civilized, empathic and feeling human beings want something; there's no need to bring God into the discussion.
Worse yet, because this God is kind of shy, all the moderates have are the scriptures, delivered to ancients of a vastly different culture. And the scriptures — Jewish, Christian, and Islamic — are terrible, reflecting as they do the harsh prejudices of ignorant savages living on the edge of starvation and in conditions of brutal exploitation. The extremists have the fundamentals — the literal meaning of the scriptures — on their side. The moderates have to actually do more violence to logic and reason to read a modern, humanistic morality into these ancient mythologies.
People are still, by and large, creepy assholes. Basing our society directly on what people want, rather than what they believe God wants, is not a panacea, not a recipe for instant Utopia. But removing specifically religious belief from our society, undermining the imprimatur of objective truth religion gives to arbitrary social constructs, and forcing people to take personal responsibility for the moral beliefs they wish to impose on their fellow human beings, gives us at least a chance at improving our society.