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Beheader hubby was hero to U.S. Muslim activists
Posted By Chelsea Schilling On 02/17/2009 @ 8:42 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
A Muslim TV network founder who has been charged with beheading his wife was the recipient of an award from the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations, the self-described Muslim civil rights group that boasts of its influence on U.S. government policy.
Muzzammil Hassan receives award from CAIR-PA Chairman Iftekhar Hussain and CAIR National Chairman Parvez Ahmed. (photo: CAIR-PA)
Muzzammil Hassan, 44, and his wife, Aasiya Hassan, 37, founded Bridges TV in November 2004. They described it as a satellite news and opinion channel aimed at portraying Muslims in a positive light following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hassan is accused of cutting off his wife’s head at his Buffalo, N.Y., station Feb. 12.
He received an award April 7, 2007, from CAIR-Pennsylvania at its first annual banquet, a fundraiser at the Hilton Philadelphia. CAIR-PA Chairman Iftekhar Hussain and CAIR National Chairman Parvez Ahmed presented the award to Hassan. The organization website does not specify a reason for the honor.
Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and Rep. Joseph Sestak of Pennsylvania’s 7th District were special guests at the event. Sestak was the keynote speaker.
“The American-Muslim community is a wonderful community and they have my strong support,” Sestak said in a statement. “They are among our District’s leaders, and among other things, have contributed to the success of businesses, educational institutions, interfaith circles and the health sector. Their participation in civic life is indicative of the great diversity and tolerance of this nation.”
According to its core principles, CAIR Pennsylvania’s website states, “CAIR PA condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.”
A message before the event from CAIR-PA’s chairman, Iftekhar Hussain, revealed the banquet would give members an opportunity “to meet with community, interfaith and civil rights leaders” whom the organization would honor for “their work in promoting justice, mutual understanding and democratic empowerment.”
Authorities found Aasiya Hassan’s decapitated body lying in a studio hallway.
Her lawyer said Aasiya, a Pakistani national, filed for divorce after numerous incidents of domestic violence. She cited “cruel and inhuman treatment” as reason for the dissolution.
The Hassans were married for eight years and had two children together, ages 4 and 6. Aasiya was her husband’s third wife, and the couple reportedly met on the Internet.
Aasiya had a restraining order against her husband as of Feb. 6 and had kicked him out of their home in Orchard Park, a Buffalo suburb.
Her older sister, Asma Firfirey, told the Cape Argus in South Africa that Aasiya often called to talk about marital troubles and said she believes her sister suffered several hours of torture before being murdered.
In a statement on its website, Bridges TV said it was “deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of Aasiya (Zubair) Hassan and subsequent arrest of Muzzammil Hassan.”
In 2005, Hassan told the Buffalo News he decided to form the television station after he heard disparaging comments about U.S. Muslims on a radio talk show. It operates under the slogan “connecting people through understanding.”
“Every day on television we are barraged by stories of a ‘Muslim extremist, militant, terrorist, or insurgent,’” Hassan said in a 2004 press release. “But the stories that are missing are the countless stories of Muslim tolerance, progress, diversity, service and excellence that Bridges TV hopes to tell.”
According to a Council on Foreign Relations report, David Powers, a professor of Islamic law and history at Cornell University, explained that the Quran permits men to use physical force against disobedient wives in some circumstances. A woman may ask for divorce, but only a man can grant her request.
“Classical Shariah lays out very limited conditions under which a woman can divorce a man – he must be infertile at the time of marriage; insane; or have leprosy or another contagious skin disease,” the CFR report states. “Most Islamic nations, including Egypt and Iran, now allow women to sue for divorce for many other reasons, including the failure to provide financial support.”
On Feb. 12, Hassan informed police his wife was dead and told them exactly where to find her body. According to CNN reports, Hassan confessed to killing Aasiya. He has been charged with second-degree murder. Authorities are still looking for a murder weapon.
Hassan is incarcerated at the Erie County Holding Center. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Beheadings are more common in Hassan’s former homeland of Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world:
Some of the individuals behind Bridges TV include:
CAIR’s communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, said Bridges TV “is just an example of the growing maturity and sophistication of the American Muslim community that people are even at this stage where we can contemplate this kind of network.”
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