Noor Faleh Almaleki has died in Phoenix. Thus, we have another development in the case of her father, 48-year-old Faleh Hassan Almaleki, who fled the United States after it is alleged that he hit the 20-year-old Noor and the mother of her boyfriend with his car.
The details of this tragic story are quite common by now, everywhere except on CNN. As I said at the beginning, something is going on with the coverage of this story in some newsrooms. People are struggling to report information that is out in the open and on the record.
Here is a chunk of the basic Associated Press report, as used by the New York Times:
Noor Faleh Almaleki, 20, underwent spinal surgery and had been in a hospital since Oct. 20, when police say her father ran down her and her boyfriend’s mother with his Jeep as the women were walking across a parking lot in the west Phoenix suburb of Peoria. The other woman, Amal Khalaf, is expected to survive.
Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, fled after the attack but was arrested Thursday when he arrived at Atlanta’s airport, where he was sent from the United Kingdom after authorities denied him entrance. … At a court hearing over the weekend in Phoenix, county prosecutor Stephanie Low told a judge that Almaleki admitted to committing the crime.
“By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family,” Low said. “This was an attempt at an honor killing.”
Family members had told police that Almaleki attacked his daughter because he believed she had become too Westernized and was not living according to his traditional Iraqi values.
Journalists are still struggling to decide how to work their way around the fact that “his traditional Iraqi values” is code language for his approach to Islam, which means journalists are struggling to know how to handle the divisions inside Islam — even here in America — on whether or not it is appropriate to kill a female who brings disgrace on her family. In this case, as noted in other stories, Noor had refused to be part of a marriage arranged by her parents. Over in London, the Times claimed that the marriage had taken place, but that Noor fled to live with her boyfriend’s family in Arizona.
Clearly there is some uncertainty here about some of these events. However, certain facts are clear — especially when you contrast the AP report (and early reports at ABCNews.com) — with the CNN stories that have been scrubbed clean of messy details linked to controversies about Islam and “honor killings” in some Islamic cultures. Again, please note the word “some.”
In the comments pages, this lack of factual information has been blamed on the hard economic times in the news business. It’s hard to report the facts when there are few reporters on deck to do the work. That’s true.
But in this case, editors at CNN have clearly made a decision to leave out facts that are already on the record, as well as highly relevant statements made on the record by authorities investigating the case. This is truly strange.
At this point, this is what we have from CNN. Here’s the key material:
Peoria police said Faleh Hassan Almaleki believed his daughter had become “too Westernized” and had abandoned “traditional” Iraqi values. Peoria police spokesman Mike Tellef told CNN the family moved to the Phoenix area in the mid-1990s, and Almaleki was unhappy with his daughter’s style of dress and her resistance to his rules. …
A friend of the daughter, Amal Edan Khalaf, 43, also suffered serious injuries in the attack, police said. Almaleki faces a separate aggravated assault charge in connection with her injuries.
Once again, is Amal Edan Khalaf merely “a friend”? Why avoid the subject of the arranged marriage, a key element in many of these tragedies? Why avoid the official claims that the father stated that this was an attempted “honor killing,” an attempt that has now turned out to have been successful?
I am sure that, on one level, it is accurate to say that the father “was unhappy with his daughter’s style of dress and her resistance to his rules.” But are we actually talking about “his rules,” or are we talking about the rules and traditions established with the Muslim community that he knows, the community that has shaped him?
Why edit the story in this fashion?