Roysce “Yusef” Haynes, a Muslim man in Pennsylvania who admitted to killing his pregnant wife, was recently found guilty of two counts of third-degree murder. Haynes says he did not mean to kill her and it happened due to tension over her not wearing proper Islamic dress.
The couple’s relationship issues started when Haynes’ wife, Atiya Majah Perry, rebuffed his requests to wear religious attire. He blamed her family for influencing her. He eventually kicked her out of the home, admonishing her as “disobedient.” A few days later, she came to the house and he killed her in a fight that ensued.
Haynes said that the death was accidental and that she first began punching him in the head.
“I saw her pull out the pepper spray. I knocked it away from her. I just grabbed her and choked her. I felt her go limp. I just blacked out. The next thing I knew she was dead,” he told detectives.
Her body was discovered inside his home when probation officers visited him.
Haynes’ fury over Perry’s dress is a reflection of the concept of “honor” that is common in Muslim societies. If a female behaves in a way that brings shame to her male partner or family, she is disciplined—often brutally. In this case, it led to a fight with a fatal outcome.
In another honor-related development, a female perpetrator of honor violence, Maria Isa, died in a Missouri prison where she lived since 1991. She assisted her husband, Zein Isa, in stabbing their 16-year old daughter to death on November 6, 1989. Zein died before he could be given the death penalty.
The murder was recorded by the FBI because it had Zein Isa under surveillance for his involvement in the Palestine Liberation Organization, which the U.S. government considered a terrorist organization at the time. He specifically belonged to a cell of the Abu Nidal Organization that was plotting to bomb the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.
Zein Isa and his colleagues talked about killing his daughter, Palestina, since August of 1989. Her offense was dating a boy that they did not approve of and running away from home for three days. Her job at a fast-food restaurant was also a point of contention, as was her hobby of playing soccer and her attendance at the junior prom.
The FBI recorded Zein saying, “There is no way to cleanse her, except the red color that cleanses her” and she “should live under the ground.” Her sisters took part in similar conversations. Another recording shows two of Zein’s terror cell members discussing the need to kill her because “she knows many things,” presumably about their violent plans.
Zein began the attack on an unsuspecting Palestina by saying to her, “Here, listen, my dear daughter, do you know that this is the last day. Tonight, you’re going to die.”
Maria grabbed hold of her hair to restrain her as she cried, “Mother, please help me!”
Maria’s response was, “Are you going to listen? Are you going to listen?” Zein then stabbed her six times, muffling her cries by placing his foot on her mouth.
“Quiet, little one! Die my daughter, die!” Zein said in Arabic.
Zein and Maria claimed that Palestina was likely on drugs or drunk and used the knife to demand $5,000 from them. Zein claims he grabbed her arm holding the weapon and “directed the knife toward her to stab her until she fell down.”
The New York Times reported on October 28, 1991 that “an agitated family member” expressed disagreement with the guilty verdict for Zein and Maria Isa saying, “I feel it’s not right. We follow our religion.”
These two cases show how honor violence has already come to America. The same anger and perceived shame that triggered the death of Palestina Isa in 1989 triggered the death of Atiya Marrah Perry in 2012.
We must never forget the fate of these two innocent women. Their murders must be a rallying call against the abusive concept of “honor” in order to save potential victims in the future.
Watch Exclusive 9 minute version of award-winning film Honor Diaries about honor violence against Muslim women.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.