Feminist Songs…: Day 8, deglorifying honor killings in middle east pop music

SIUE graduate Robert Budron was a philosophy major who took a women’s studies course through our program that changed utterly his opinion on feminism as a conceptual tool, one which he now uses in graduate school at Loyola University to consider intersectional oppression. He brings us this deeply moving song by the Palestinian group DAM, a cultural source not often encountered in mainstream American music.  The group is deeply influential, with a song in the early 2000’s distributed for free by Rolling Stone in France. They are based in Israel new Tel Aviv.  English translation of lyrics is provided below if you want to read them as you watch/listen. Do please note that the video contains material depicting violence against women.

–Alison Reiheld, Director of SIUE Women’s Studies

This is a song by the Palestinian rap duo DAM which tells the story of a young woman killed by her family for refusing an arranged marriage.

The song was supported and funded by UN Women as part of initiative to raise awareness among youth of ‘honor killings’ with the hopes of mobilizing an effort to end this practice. The final Arabic script reads “Freedom for my sisters.”

More details here at the UN  WOMEN website:

The video tells the story of a young Arab girl who has lived a life of pain and decides to run away from home after her parents try to force her into an arranged marriage. But her plan is thwarted when her unsuspecting mother gets a call from the airline about her flight being delayed. Her father and brother stuff her into the trunk of their car, take her to the woods and shoot her in the forehead.

Without shame, her brother puts his gun in his pocket the song continues, with what are at times purposefully raw images and lyrics: It’s the first time in her life that she says “NO!

Across the world, the United Nations estimates that 5,000 women and girls[1] are murdered and abused every year by male relatives as punishment for a range of behaviours judged to have damaged the family reputation. Between 2007 and 2010, 29 women in the West Bank were reported murdered in the name of honour[2] and at least nine cases have already been reported since the beginning of 2012[3].

Without further delay…


Arabic script: If I Could Go Back In Time
‏Suhel Nafar:
‏Before she was murdered, she wasn’t alive
‏We’ll tell her story backwards from her murder to her birth
‏Her body rises from the grave to the ground
‏The bullet flies out of her forehead and swallowed into the gun
‏The sound of her echo screams, she screams back
‏Tears rise up from her cheeks to her eyes
‏Behind the clouds of smoke, faces of her family appear
‏Without shame, her brother puts the gun in his pocket
‏Her father throws down the shovel and wipes the sweat off his forehead
‏He shakes his head, satisfied from the size of the grave
‏They drag her back to the car, her legs kicking
‏Like a sand storm, she’s erasing her own tracks
‏They throw her in the trunk, she doesn’t know where she is
‏But she knows that three left the house and only two will return
‏They reach the house; throw her to the bed in violence
‏”So you want run away huh?” they wake her with violence

‏Amal Murkus (Chorus)
‏If I could go back in time
‏I would smile
‏Fall in love
‏If I could go back in time
‏I would draw

‏Mahmood Jrere:
‏She dreams before falling asleep
‏We’ll tell her story backwards, maybe understand
‏The clock hands move right to left
‏She reconstructs her steps as if she were lost
‏She sleeps prepared, money for the taxi
‏Plane ticket and passport under her pillow
‏Answer: leave the clothes in the closet; she plans to wear a new life
‏Question: what if they ask what the suitcase is for?
‏She went to bed, leaves table
‏Eats well, she must act today
‏Her nose stops bleeding, that’s what they see
‏But it’s a fresh wound; before they will beat her she will beat them
‏Her mom says “your life is like heaven”
‏She’s right, if you taste the forbidden you better know someone is watching
‏Two hours before dinner, the phone hangs up
‏Her mom is shocked “the flight is delayed”
‏Phone rings

‏ Amal Murkus (Chorus)

‏Tamer Nafar:
‏Before she answers, she isn’t even asked
‏The story is like the logic in her life, all backwards
‏Her hands up in the sky, begging for help
‏Their hands up in the sky reciting the Fatiha (ceremony before marriage)
‏The calendar page moves one day back, the time is
‏Afternoon, the argument is over, her brother commands her
‏Blood flows from her lips to her nose
‏A sound of a fist, his hand jumps from her face
‏It’s the first time in her life that she says “NO!”
‏Her mom announces happily “tomorrow you will marry your cousin”
‏If I look through the album of her life
‏I won’t see a photo of her standing up for her rights
‏It’s hard, the pages are stuck to my hand
‏Her past full of blood and tears
‏But we promise you, from her murder to her birth
‏Their expressions filled with anger as if someone announced a crime
‏”Congratulations, it’s a girl”
‏The beginning.

Arabic script:Freedom For My Sisters


1 Comment

Filed under Feminist Songs, Global Feminisms, Uncategorized

One response to “Feminist Songs…: Day 8, deglorifying honor killings in middle east pop music

  1. Pingback: Masculinity Studies: What Is It, and Why Would a Feminist Care? | SIUE Women's Studies Program

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