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Arab mothers must take the lead to educate their sons about best way to treat women

Heba Yosry

Published: Updated:

I’m exasperated. Having to write about yet another murdered young woman in Egypt who was killed for the mere fact that she said no, is heartbreaking. And yet here we are.

Salma Bahjat, a young woman who recently graduated from university, was brutally murdered in the stairwell leading to the newspaper where she was interning. The perpetrator was a young man, a colleague of Salma’s who couldn’t bear her rejection. He stabbed her fifteen times and called his mother while Salma’s dead body was lying on the steps at the building entrance.

A video recorded by the witnesses who were fearfully stranded showed him hysterically screaming and telling his mother that he had killed her. He told his mother that he spent 50,000 Egyptian pounds on Salma, and she refused to marry him, so he killed her. He paid the amount and was claiming what was in his mind rightfully his. And just like that, Salma’s life had a price tag.

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Most rational people came out to condemn the murder and offer prayers for Salma, whose life was tragically cut short by a delusional young man. But there were also the usual tropes hurled by those who found the brutal murder of a young woman an appropriate opportunity to criticize the deceased. This person dared to socialize and maybe get involved in a romantic relationship with a young man. There was the usual blame on the secular forces of society that allowed women and men to mingle freely on university campuses and elsewhere. There was the usual blame of parents who let their daughters roam freely and scandalizing their families as a result.

Some attributed the murder to the wrath of God, punishing us for straying away from His teachings that compel us to strict segregation between the sexes. A rumor was circulating that the government is considering sex-segregated campuses to prevent future incidents. The government denied the story afterward, stating that no such discussions occurred.

It was suggested that murdering young women by their persistent suitors has become a phenomenon in Egypt. Officials responded to that claim by denying the word phenomenon since two incidents do not constitute a phenomenon. And I agree that one can’t claim that we are still witnessing a phenomenon. However, I believe that the underlying factors that led to the tragic murders of these women constitute a pervasive and troubling trend. It’s grounded in bad parenting of young boys, who grow up to be entitled men.

In this murder, the killer believed that spending money on Salma, having her name tattooed on several parts of his body, and his desire to be with her were reasons enough to claim her as his own. I think the murderer truly believed that he loved Salma and that she deserved to die because his love is very precious, and she refused it.

The young man felt he should punish her ingratitude and the act of insulting him.
It’s common for male youths to consider themselves unique for the mere and simple fact that they are men. This young man, sadly like many young Arab men, believed that he was entitled to anything or anyone he wanted. His failure is the failure of others who could not see his greatness. Rejection is an unforgivable act they must violently avenge.

Welcome to the dominion of the inflated, fragile male ego.

After this recent tragedy, a video was posted on Tiktok by another young man advising other men on what to do in case their girlfriend’s families rejected them. Firstly, he recommended eloping. If the girl doesn’t want to get married without her family’s consent, he says: “You should kill her and kill yourself.” The video amassed two million likes. Two million individuals agreed with his rationale and motives and thought his actions permissible. It’s ok for a young man to murder a young woman with her entire life ahead of her to avenge his scorned pride.

The murders perhaps are not a phenomenon. Nonetheless, this cult of death mentality plaguing young male minds should be concerning since it holds the seed of becoming a phenomenon.

Naturally, not all Arab men struggle with the weight of an inflated, fragile ego. Nevertheless, suppose we do not acknowledge and address the underlying factors causing men to believe they have the right to dictate who lives and dies. In that case, we will witness and eulogize more innocent young women. So, for all the mothers who idolize their sons, convincing them that they can have anything that pleases them, remember to tell them that other human beings aren't included.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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