Hours Before Killing, Nazarenes Marched Against Domestic Violence

Hours before the the murder of Hala Faisal-Salam, at the hand of her husband Basel Salam, her father in law, Ali Salam, the deputy mayor of Nazareth, marched at a demonstration against violence toward women in the northern Arab city.

Also at the march was Sheikh Amin Kana'an of the village of Yerka. His daughter, Manar, was murdered in her home in the village three months ago.

The suspect in the murder is her husband.

"I saw it as my obligation as a father bereaved of his daughter in tragic and cruel circumstances, through no fault of her own, and as a man of religion to go to the demonstration and participate in this outcry and say 'Enough! Enough of the violence and the murder of women,'" Kana'an, well known in Druze and Arab circles, said.

About 1,000 people participated the demonstration on Saturday, mobilized by about 30 women's organizations and human rights committees, and attended by Arab mayors and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.

The many women who participated in the procession wore black and waved placards bearing the names of the women who have been killed in Arab locales in Israel in recent years.

According to the non-profit organization Women Against Violence, 116 Arab women have been murdered since 1986. In 2009, 10 Arab women were murdered, among them Manar Amin Kana'an, the mother of two children, a three-year-old and a three-month-old. Her husband, a banker, has been arrested on suspicion of the murder.

The sheikh's appearance at the demonstration on Saturday was seen as an exceptional event, as clerics do not usually participate in rallies of this sort. However, the sheikh declared that this is not a one-time act.

He intends to appear in workshops, take part in social and educational action and speak out against murder, especially murder of women.

"There is no religion in the world that permits murder as such, of anyone," Kana'an said. "Simply no one has the right to take the life of anyone else, no matter the reasons. Anyone who doubts this should consult his spiritual leadership and get an answer from them. Murder is murder, and the murder of a woman is no less grave than any other murder and it is no less painful. On the contrary."

The marchers did not spare criticism of the law-enforcement authorities. Attorney Shirin Batshon, coordinator of the legal department at the feminist organization Kayan, said, "the law-enforcement authorities choose not to treat cases of murder of Arab women with the severity merited by a criminal event."