After Suspected Murder-suicide, Druze Protest Violence Against Women

Young people, some dressed in black, demonstrate in front of municipal building after bodies of engaged couple found in grove.

Demonstrators in Isfiya have staged an unusual protest for the highly conservative Druze village near Haifa: a protest against violence against women. The demonstration follows a suspected murder-suicide last week.

On the village's main street on Monday, a small group of young men and women, some dressed in black, stood in front of the municipality building holding signs reading "By keeping quiet you are authorizing murder" and "There is no honor in crime." The slogans were written in both Hebrew and Arabic.

The demonstration follows events that began Saturday morning. The bodies of Hakim Kayouf, 25, from Isfiya, and Iham Kadur, 19, from Daliat al-Carmel, were found in a grove near Ein Hod on the northern coast.

Police investigators are awaiting the release of autopsy reports, but a police source says a formal investigation is unlikely for a case that was probably a murder-suicide. The police say they have learned that Kadur's family was opposed to the couple's engagement.

Iham Hamdan, a 21-year-old woman from Isfiya, knew both Kayouf and Kadur. "Violent events in our community are on the rise, and we feel helpless about them," she said. "I initiated and led this protest rally in front of the Isfiya council building; the demonstration's goal is to say 'no more violence' and to bring an end to the tacit condoning of such things."

Hamdan, a student at the University of Haifa, has won the support of peers like said Salah Deksa from Daliat al-Carmel.

"I'm embarrassed," said Deksa, who took part in the rally. "The fact that so few people came to this demonstration means that our community still sees violence like this as something that is plausible. They see it as something that can be condoned, so it's our generation's job to sound the alarm."

Isfiya Mayor Wajia Kayouf says the rally reflects genuine concern. "We have here a collision between a conservative society and an open one .... We apparently aren't doing enough to bridge the gap between these two worlds," Kayouf said.