Muzzammil Hassan: Wikis

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Muzzammil Syed Hassan, also known as Mo Steve Hassan[1], (born November 4, 1964)[2] was the CEO of Bridges TV (he resigned in February 2009)[3], the first American Muslim television network broadcast in English.[4][5][6] He is currently under arrest for the beheading murder of his wife of eight years, Aasiya Zubair.[7]

Contents

Professional life

Muzzammil Hassan came to the United States from Pakistan at age 17,[8] eventually graduating magna cum laude with an MBA from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester in 1996[9]. He went on to become a successful banker in Buffalo, New York.[8]

In 2004, his wife Aasiya prompted him to develop "an American Muslim media where her kids could grow up feeling really strong about their identity as an American Muslim."[10] Hassan expressed belief that some moderate Muslims could not identify with the extreme stereotypes often depicted in Hollywood productions and said that such Muslims "think they are not accurately portrayed" and that "Bridges TV gives American Muslims a voice and will depict them in everyday, real life situations."[4] The Hassans received an award for this effort from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in 2007.[11]

Arrest for murder

In February 2009, Hassan was arrested and charged with stabbing and beheading his estranged wife Aasiya Zubair.[6] According to Orchard Park police, Hassan came to the police station at 6:30 pm on February 12, 2009, the day of the killing, and reported his wife dead. Her body was found at the TV station [6][12]. Police had previously visited the Hassans' home in response to domestic incidents, most recently February 6, 2009, the day Hassan was served with divorce papers and an order of protection,[13] and police reports indicated that Zubair stated her husband's abusive and controlling behavior had begun at least six years earlier.[14] Muzzammil Hassan was arraigned before Village Justice Deborah Chimes and sent to the Erie County Holding Center. Sources claimed to be close to the case said hunting knives were used to commit the crime.[15]

Reaction to arrest

Shortly after the arrest, Bridges TV posted the following notice on their website:

Bridges TV is deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of Aasiya [Zubair] Hassan and subsequent arrest of Muzzammil Hassan. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to the families of the victim. We request that their right to privacy be respected.[13]

At the Muslim Community Center in Amherst, New York, more than 200 gathered for early morning prayers and a funeral service for Ms. Hassan, who had been active at the center’s mosque. “She was more of a practicing Muslim” than her husband, said attendee Hassan Shibly to the New York Times, who worked for the television station with the Hassans prior to enrolling in law school. “She really believed in the cause, wanting to present her faith in an accurate light and now people are blaming her very faith for her death.”[16]

The victim' s sister, 42-year old Asma Firfirey of the vicinity of Cape Town, South Africa, said she and her husband Amier talked to Aasiya Hassan the day of the murder. According to Asma Firfirey, she heard her sister tell Muzzammil Hassan to "calm down" and that they "could talk the following day about the divorce". According to Asma and her husband, they described hearing what sounded like her sister struggling to breathe before the telephone connection ended. Asma Firfirey has said that Hassan, whom she calls "the fat man with the evil eyes," will be more dangerous when he is released on bail.[2]

Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York and a friend of the couple, said that Hassan "was worried about the station's future" and added "Domestic violence is despicable, and Islam condones it in no way whatever."[17] Afshan Qureshi, a local Muslim leader and the president of an advocacy group in Rochester, New York for domestic violence victim, lamented that the community had been too quick to overlook Muzzammil Hassan's faults: "We punished the victims. People said the first marriage failed because the girl was American, the second marriage failed because the girl wasn’t patient enough and then, look, the third wife is happy. Everything is OK. The community is an accomplice in the story of Muzzammil Hassan."[18] Conversely, Marcia Pappas, New York State president of the National Organization for Women opined "This was apparently a terroristic version of honor killing, a murder rooted in cultural notions about women’s subordination to men."[19] Pappas' superior, Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, stated:

Despite these patterns that are typical of spouse abuse and murder (only the manner of killing was atypical), most of the conservative commentary has focused not on male violence toward women (surprise, surprise), nor on the importance of protecting women who have separated from a violent relationship (another surprise) but has focused instead on attacking the Muslim community. Although the crime was quickly decried by Muslim groups, many talk shows and blogs used the horror of Muzzammil's act to indict an entire community -- in a way that they would never have accused the entire Christian religion because a Methodist man murdered his estranged wife in a horrible way. Three weeks ago, a Chinese graduate student at Virginia Tech cut off a female friend's head with a knife. Not a single news outlet referred to his religion.[20]

According to a former employee, in the past few years Bridges TV transformed itself into more of a cross-cultural network seeking to bridge the gap between all cultures. Most of their employees were not Muslim, the former employee said, and Muzzammil Hassan himself was not devout, neither praying nor fasting.[21][22]. Out of deference to his Jewish friends, Hassan expressed aversion to producing shows about Palestine.[23] Nancy Sanders, the television station's news director for over two years, said "I just do not feel it was an honor killing. I think it was domestic abuse that got out of control."[24]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America responded with an "Open Letter to Muslim Leaders", expressing shock and sadness at the murder, condemning domestic violence, and calling on imams and Muslim leaders to "provide support and help to protect the victims of domestic violence" and "to never second-guess a woman who comes to us indicating that she feels her life to be in danger".[18] [25]

Previous marriages and children

Prior to his marriage to Aasiya Zubair, Hassan was married twice before: first, to a Caucasian American woman, Janice, with whom he had two children, Michael and Sonia; second, for 13 months to a Pakistani-American Muslim woman, Sadia. According to Sadia's cousin, Zerqa Abid, both of his earlier wives filed for divorce on the same grounds of severe domestic violence and abuses.[18][26] The family of the second wife, Sadia, are said to have sacrificed two goats in thanks that their daughter had escaped her marriage alive.[18]

In addition to the two children from his first marriage (ages 17 and 18), he has two children (a girl age 4 and a boy age 6) from his third marriage (to Aasiya).[27]

References

  1. ^ Did we ever bother to know Muzzammil? Al-Arabiya News Channel, February 19, 2009
  2. ^ a b digitaljournal.com: Monster beheaded my sister, says Cape Town woman (Feb 14, 2009)
  3. ^ Gryta, Matt (2009-03-14). "Hassan denied bail in murder, decapitation of wife". Buffalo, New York: The_Buffalo_News. http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/607410.html. Retrieved 2009-06-07.  
  4. ^ a b News aljazeerah.info: First American Muslim Television Channel Announced by Bridges Network
  5. ^ Press Release: Bridges TV Debuts American Muslim Television Network in English Nationwide on November 30, 2004
  6. ^ a b c CNN: Founder of Islamic TV station accused of beheading wife (February 16, 2009)
  7. ^ New York Times, February 17, 2009
  8. ^ a b Voice of America:Muslims in America Reach Out (16 November 2004)
  9. ^ Huffington Post, February 17, 2009
  10. ^ Beheaded woman's sister: I might have heard deadly confrontation CNN, February 17, 2009
  11. ^ CAIR-PA First Annual Banquet
  12. ^ Muslim TV exec accused of beheading wife in NY AP, 2009-02-17
  13. ^ a b Bridges TV Accessed 17 February 2009
  14. ^ The Buffalo News: A history of abuse preceded Orchard Park beheading (02/22/09)
  15. ^ The Buffalo News: Slain Orchard Park woman was stabbed before beheading (02/21/09)
  16. ^ New York Times, February 17, 2008
  17. ^ US Muslim TV boss arrested for beheading wife
  18. ^ a b c d Prelude to Murder, The Daily Beast, February 23, 2009
  19. ^ New York Daily News Muslim TV mogul Muzzammil Hassan's alleged beheading of wife, Aasiya Hassan, may be 'honor killing' (February 17th 2009)
  20. ^ TV executive beheaded in Buffalo; husband charged -- what's Islam got to do with it?, Blogher.com
  21. ^ CNN Report, February 17, 2009
  22. ^ Beliefnet: A Murder in Buffalo Touches Us All
  23. ^ Illume Magazine, February 17, 2009
  24. ^ Huffington Post, February 17, 2009
  25. ^ Response to Aasiya Hassan’s Murder: Open Letter to Muslim Leaders, Islamic Society of North America/CAIR
  26. ^ Zerqa Abid, ZAPS Technocrats, Inc., 17 February 2009
  27. ^ The Buffalo News, February 17, 2009

External links

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