An American Honor Killing: Justice Is Served

Noor Almaleki, a pretty 20-year-old, was walking across a suburban Phoenix parking lot in 2009 when her father slammed into her in his Jeep Grand Cherokee, fracturing her face and spine, and ultimately killing her. Why? He was angry at his daughter for refusing to marry an Iraqi man -- of her father's choosing -- back in his homeland. Noor had different ideas: She had lived in America for most of her life and wanted to marry a man of her own choice. She wanted to define her own future.

This week, justice is being served. Noor's father, Faleh Almaleki, has been found guilty in Phoenix of second-degree murder for killing his daughter, among other charges. He's likely to spend the rest of his life in jail.

His crime has been characterized by local police as an honor killing -- the murder of a woman for "shaming" her family. The chilling practice has deep roots in some tribal traditions of the Middle East and South Asia. Noor's tragedy demonstrates how these crimes have come to America.

I was proud and deeply moved to be able to interview Noor's closest friends for an exposé on her life, and her murder, for Marie Claire magazine last year. Her friends told me all about a young American woman who loved eating at Chipotle, watching Heroes, and wearing flowy tops from Forever 21. Her friends -- who stood by Noor and her powerful memory -- are to be applauded today for sharing her life story. They have helped all of us to meet a young woman they were proud to call a friend. And in so doing, they may change the fate of other young women who have a foot in two worlds -- suburban America, and traditional Iraq. You can read Noor's life story here.


Abigail Pesta is an award-winning journalist who has lived and worked around the world. Currently she is the editor-at-large of Marie Claire magazine in New York. In Hong Kong, she was a news and features editor for The Wall Street Journal. In London, she ran an editing desk for Dow Jones Newswires. She has also worked at Glamour, where she launched Mariane Pearl's popular column about women who change the world. Abby writes short stories for her website, Fine Words Butter No Parsnips.