Muzzammil Hassan arraigned hours before a special memorial service is held for his wife . Another service is planned for this weekend.
Muzzammil Hassan is charged with one count of second-degree murder for the Feb. 12 death of his wife, Aasiya, whose body was found beheaded at the offices of Bridges TV in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park.
Hassan, 44, founded the Muslim-American television channel in 2004 saying he hoped to balance negative portrayals of Muslims in the post 9-11 world.
According to Orchard Park police the couple was in the process of divorcing before Aasiya Hassan was stabbed multiple times and decapitated.
After the slaying the President of the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter condemned the death as an honor killing — a characterization local victim advocacy groups oppose.
Hours after Mr. Hassan appeared in court a Quranic Recitation was held for his wife at the Islamic Center in Amherst.
“In the Western sense you could call it a memorial service,” explained Khalid Qazi, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York.
“People will come in, both men and women, and they will read from the Koran and send blessings to Aasiya, the deceased,” Khalid said.
Khalid also told 2 On Your Side the local Muslim Community remains “horrified, and has no satisfaction as to why such a horrible event would take place and for what reason this horrible event could take place”.
Also attending the gathering was Susan Volk Sizemore, Executive Director of the Erie County Council on the Status of Women.
“When the unfortunate domestic violence death of Aasiya took place I was asked to get more involved. We have been working very closely with the (Islamic) community and its leaders to try and help them develop specific programs for their women on domestic violence issues and connect them with the different resources in Erie County,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore also told WGRZ-TV that, “Buffalo’s a little behind the times. In other large cities the Muslim community has very developed domestic violence programs.”
Meantime, Islamic leaders like Khalid wonder if some of the inroads made toward inter-cultural understanding post 9-11 were set back by Mrs. Hassan’s gruesome slaying.
“We feel lucky to be part of the Western New York community because it has always made us feel welcome and continues to do so. But an event like this puts you behind so much, especially when it is construed (as an honor killing) by the media and those who don’t know Islam and try to be the experts on such issues.”
An interfaith memorial service for Aasyia Hassan is scheduled for this coming Sunday at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 South Buffalo Street, Orchard Park.
The service which begins at 6pm is open to one and all.