Editor's Comment: Across the decades, public schools in the United States have been teaching young children negative, distorted ideas and images about Muslim people whom the same children have never had an opportunity to meet. The images of Muslim/Arab people burned into my mind and memory by public school books and the television media were few but powerful. I was taught that Muslim men have many wives and that Muslim women suffer in life; that that if a Muslim were caught stealing at the market they would cut off his or her hands; that Muslims bury women with only their heads above the surface of the ground and then stone them to death; that Muslims are a warring, violent, uncivilized people and are to be feared by the rest of the world.
These ideas and images were reinforced by the religion of my youth backed by stories and teachings of the Hebrew Old Testament. They continue to be reinforced by selected "news" stories on US television. When children learn these things about Muslims during early development - they remain in the child's consciousness throughout life unless debunked by independent reading and learning and/or by actual direct contact with Muslims.
In recent years, especially since 9/11/01 the western media has pummeled us with similar impressions of Muslims depicting them as terrorists who are on a mission to dominate the world.
In his essay published below, Eric Walberg tells the story of a family convicted of the "honor killings" of four Muslim women in Canada by their family members, based on circumstantial evidence. Eric doesn't spend time or text examining the guilt or innocence of those family members. Rather, his brilliant analysis shows the utter hypocrisy of western regimes and their servile media related to these convictions.
One additional thing that might be clarified regarding Eric's use of the term, "mujahideen." Generally, the western media has corrupted the meaning of "jihad" and "mujahideen," keen to associate the term with terrorism. The following explanation of "mujahideen" and "jihad" is offered by SantaBanta*
The Real Meaning of Jihad and Mujahideen
"Jihad" in Arabic
The Arabic word "jihad" is a noun. Its singular past tense verb is "jahada" (masculine) or "jahadat" (feminine). The singular active participle of "jihad" is "mujahid" (masculine) or "mujahida" (feminine). The root of the word "jihad" is "juhd" which means "effort." Another related word is "ijtihad"which means "working hard or diligently."
Jihad is simply the process of "exerting the best efforts," involving some form of "struggle" and "resistance," to achieve a particular goal. In other words, jihad is the struggle against, or resistance to, something for the sake of a goal. The meaning of the word is independent of the nature of the invested efforts or the sought goal.
Contrary to common belief, the word "jihad" does not necessarily imply any violent effort, let alone "war" and such instances of extreme violence. It is a general term that can mean violent as well as peaceful actions, depending on the context in which it is used, as we shall indeed see later. Similarly, "jihad" as a generic word can be used even when the sought goals are not Islamic, i.e. in non-religious contexts.
The Qur'an uses the verb of "jihad" in its generic meaning of "exerting the best efforts against something" in the following two verses:
And We have enjoined on man goodness to parents, but if they jahadaka (do jihad against you) to make you associate [a god] with Me, of which you have no knowledge [being a god], do not obey them. To Me is your return [O people!], so I shall inform you of your past deeds (29.8).
And We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents; his mother bears him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years; and that [you must] be grateful to Me and to both your parents. To Me is the eventual coming (31.14). And if they jahadaka (do jihad against you) to make you associate [a god] with Me, of which you have no knowledge [being a god], do not obey them, but keep company with them in this world kindly; and follow the way of he who turns to Me. Then to Me is your [O people!] return, then I shall inform you of your past deeds (31.15).
Jihad in the verses above refers to actions taken by non-Muslim parents against their Muslim offspring to force them to worship other than Allah. This goal goes against the message of Islam which teaches the oneness of God, Allah; obviously this kind of jihad is not Islamic. The verses above also confirm the already mentioned fact that jihad is not necessarily an act of violence.
It is worth noting that the verses above command the Muslims to remain kind and caring toward their parents, but to resist any attempt by the latter to force them to give up the Islamic tenet of monotheism in favor of some polytheistic belief.
(*read more at the end of this article*
The worldwide media war, a war of words and ideas has lead the way for the imperialist conquest to dominate the world. Since our founding in 2003, Axis of Logic's mission is expressed in the words of our motto: "Finding Clarity in the 21st Century Mediaplex." Eric Walberg's essay goes a long way toward finding clarity.
- Les Blough, Editor
Canada's 'honour killings': Where is the sense of honour?
by Eric Walberg
As Canada continues to pour troops and money into American wars and intrigues in the Muslim world, the media focusses on so-called honour killings, notes Eric Walberg
Afghan immigrants Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Mahommad Yahya and their 21-year-old son Hamed were found guilty in a Canadian court Sunday of first degree murder in the 2009 “honor killing” deaths of four female family members, and sentenced to life imprisonment. These were not poor, uneducated people, but upstanding members of Canada's economic elite. The enterprising Mohammad escaped to Pakistan as “free Afghanistan” descended into civil war in 1992, before emigrating to Australia and then Dubai, where he made his fortune in its hot real estate scene, finally settling in Canada in 2007.
|Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, Zainab Shafia, 19, and her two sisters, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13. The four women were found dead, apparently by drowning, in a vehicle submerged in a canal just outside of Kingston, Canada on the northern tip of Lake Ontario on June 30, 2009.
Judge Robert Maranger called the crimes “heinous”: “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour. It’s a sick notion of honour that has no place in a civilised society.” Mohammad Shafia replied: “We are not criminals. We are not murderers. We didn’t commit murder. This is unjust.” “I am not a murderer. I am a mother,” echoed Tooba Yahya.
The three defendants were found guilty of the deaths of the couple’s three daughters and Shafia’s first wife. The bodies of the victims were found in a car submerged in a canal lock near Kingston, apparently an accident, but wire-taps of the father revealed he showed no remorse for their deaths because they had damaged the family’s reputation by wearing revealing clothes and otherwise rebelling against tradition. This and other circumstantial evidence convinced the jury that the father had arranged their murder, using their brother as an accomplice.
History of "Honor killings" in all cultures
Since 2002, Canada has suffered about 6000 murders, 13 of which involved “honour killings”, defined as a homicide of a member (female or male) of a family or social group by other members, for bringing dishonour upon the family or community. Whether or not the accused here carried out the crime, such drastic resolutions of a family conflict are surely reprehensible, though a tradition that has been part of all cultures -- European and American included -- until the recent past. “Shotgun weddings” are just one form, as are “shotgun divorces”. A third of all women murdered in the US are murdered by boyfriends or husbands. Both East and West, statistics show that most murders are by family members.
The main difference between the very few honour killers in Canada’s legal history and the overwhelming number of whiter, more “civilised” home-grown murderers is that the latter do not justify their actions by a sense of morality however “twisted”. They are usually acts of revenge, hatred, drunkenness -- both behind the wheel and through drink-induced madness.
But what about the other homicides which Canadians are increasingly indulging in? Canada is slogging through its 11th nightmarish year of occupying Afghanistan in the name of freedom. Statistics about Afghan “casualities” are notoriously poor, as the occupiers say they’re too busy to compile them. How many innocent Afghans, not to mention freedom fighters, have Canadian soldiers and mercenaries killed since 2002? Surely many thousand times the 13 deaths attributed to honour killings on the home front.
And just why are the Shafias with their un-Canadian ways even living in Canada at all? It is a direct result of the destruction of their homeland which the US fuelled starting in 1979 by arming and funding mujahideen. Without that truly gruesome political event, the Shafias would have been living in a peaceful Afghanistan, where compliance with social norms by their children would have been the case, and no thoughts of this ultimate punishment would have entered their stern father’s head.
But no. And just as Canada enthusiastically jumped onboard the USS Mission Civilatrice in Afghanistan a decade ago fighting those very mujahideen, it is a high profile participant in the propaganda campaign to convince Canadians that Afghans are barbarians and that exterminating them is a Boy Scout’s duty.
The shameful, very noisy trial of the Shafias distorts the real news about Canada's relations with Afghans, a perfect metaphor for the high-tech imperial centre presenting itself (through the embedded media) as the world’s sole source of progress and reason, even as it drags that world down into chaos and destruction. The colonial periphery is depicted as savage and cruel, whereas it is in fact the victim of immeasurable violence at the hands of the empire. The handful of “honour killings” and hand cuttings for various crimes (especially popular in US ally Saudi Arabia), however deplorable, are a drop in the ocean of imperial violence, and have actually increased due to Western meddling.
Murder Rates and Other Crimes in Muslim and Western Countries
The reality is best revealed by statistics. Muslim countries have far lower murder rates than Western countries. As empire-central, let’s focus on the US, where the murder rate is 5.2 per 100,000, seven times higher than Egypt’s 0.8 (sorry, no stats available for poor Afghanistan). The US also has the highest incarceration rate in the world bar none -- seven times that of Canada and nine times that of Egypt. US prisons are notorious, where rape and drug addiction abound.
The flip side of honour crime is rape. The incidence of rape in the US is 300 times that of Egypt (Egypt 0.1 per 100,000 vs 30 in the US and 1.5 in Canada). The incidence of rape in Afghanistan was once upon a time also negligible. It is now an epidemic far more horrible than the isolated honour killings there (or by hapless Afghan emigres) -- and directly a result of the occupation’s 150,000 killer-invaders and the chaos they have brought. For better or for worse, we must conclude from these statistics that old-fashioned honour killing is a powerful disincentive to rape.
Also for better or for worse, it is a fact that second generation Muslim immigrants often discard their religion and customs, seduced by the overt sexuality and commercialism of Western culture. The Shafias went that route. But at the same time, other immigrants become more devout and angrily reject the alluring trappings. What happens to them?
Aafia Siddiqui convicted in US Court
A famous case is Aafia Siddiqui, a brilliant American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist, who donned the niqab and showed sympathy for the likes of Al-Qaeda and other groups resisting the US onslaught on the Muslim world. She paid the price by being given a life sentence for supposedly trying to murder her US interrogators in Afghanistan. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan criticised the conviction and the judicial process saying it was carried out by a kangaroo court, though curiously Amnesty International has not championed Siddiqui's cause.
|Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistan neuroscientist studied at MIT in Cambridge, MA. She was abducted by the US and held incommunicado for 5 years in Afghanistan before being taken to New York for trial.
Dr. Siddiqui, after her shameful arrest and torture during imprisonment and interrogation by US authorities. She is now languishing in a US prison, sentenced to a term of 86 years.
Women and Values in Muslim and Western Societies
Not only Muslim immigrants find solace in traditional Islam. According to a survey conducted by Swansea University, Wales, nearly two-thirds of the 100,000 recent British converts to Islam were women, more than 70 per cent white, with an average age at conversion of 27. They identified alcohol and drunkenness, a “lack of morality and sexual permissiveness” and “unrestrained consumerism” as their motivation.
Current NGOs and Western media blithely exhort Afghans and other unfortunates to adopt Western standards with nary a word about how they might be serving the West’s implicit imperial agenda. This is rank hypocrisy in the eyes of Muslims. Take for instance the Independent Republican Institute, which was active in overthrowing the Honduran government in 2009. It was just last week caught with its finger in the cookie jar in Egypt, much to the feigned shock of US President Barack Obama, who threatened to cut off US bribes (excuse me, funding) to Egypt unless all charges against the IRI functionaries and other intriguers (excuse me, altruists) were dropped immediately.
The Islamic world broadly disapproves of what it sees as the collapse of morality in the West. While Western critics accuse Muslims of having an “obsession with the purity of women”, for Muslims, naked ladies on magazine covers, legalised prostitution -- not to mention the alarming incidence of rape in the West -- do not represent liberation of women. On the contrary, they see much of Western culture as undermining any genuine sense of dignity for women.
Following the verdict against the Shafias, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called honour killings a practice that is “barbaric and unacceptable in Canada....This government is committed to protecting women and other vulnerable persons from all forms of violence and to hold perpetrators accountable for their acts.”
The only riposte possible is to condemn Nicholson’s own endorsement of Canada’s “barbaric and unacceptable” involvement in US imperial wars which kill thousands of “women and other vulnerable persons", and to demand that he “hold perpetrators accountable”. Fat chance.
(photos and related text added by Axis of Logic)
READ BIO AND MORE ESSAYS BY ERIC WALBERG
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly You can reach him at his website. His Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games is available at Clarity Press.
*Jihad con't: Aside from its use of the term "jihad" in its generic meaning in the two verses above, the Qur'an uses "jihad" in another twenty eight verses in a specific meaning. In this case, the phrase "fi sabili Allah", which means "in the way of Allah" or "for the sake of Allah", either follows "jihad," or one of its derivatives, explicitly, or is implied by the context. For reference, Appendix A lists all thirty verses that mention the term "jihad" or any of its variations.
Contrary to the common belief that is embodied in the misinterpretation of "jihad" as "holy war," Islamic jihad does not refer solely to fighting in the way of Allah. This, in fact, is a special case of jihad. The Qur'anic concept of jihad refers to exerting efforts, in the form of struggle against or resistance to something, for the sake of Allah. This effort can be fighting back armed aggression, but can also be resisting evil drives and desires in one's self. Even donating money to the needy is a form of jihad, as it involves struggling against one's selfishness and inner desire to keep one's money for one's own pleasures. Jihad can, therefore, be subdivided into armed jihad and peaceful jihad. Armed jihad, which is the subject of Chapter 4, is only temporary and is a response to armed aggression. Once the aggression has ceased, armed jihad comes to an end. Armed jihad, thus, can take place only when there is an aggressive, external enemy.
Causes of peaceful jihad, on the other hand, are always existent, which is why this form of jihad is permanent. One major form of peaceful jihad is the war of the Muslim against his "nafs," an Arabic term that may be translated as the "lower self," and which refers to the individual's inferior drives and evil motives. This most dangerous enemy never disappears, hence this war knows no end.
The other form of peaceful jihad involves every act of peaceful struggle undertaken by the Muslim against external sources of evil. Preaching the message of Islam in a hostile environment, opposing an evil act, and all such peaceful good actions are instances of jihad because they involve some form of resistance and struggle to achieve a good goal. For instance, the Prophet's patience at the accusations and abuse that the disbelievers directed at him for preaching the Qur'an was peaceful jihad: Therefore [O Muhammad!] be patient with what they say, and glorify your Lord by praising Him before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and during hours of the night do also glorify [Him], and during parts of the day, that you may be well satisfied (20.130).
It is interesting to note how the terms "jihad" and "Islam" relate to each other in Arabic and in the Qur'anic sense. Linguistically, the general term "jihad," which refers to "struggle" and "resistance," has almost exactly the opposite meaning of the general term "Islam," which means "surrender" or "submission." The Qur'anic "jihad," however, which is about resisting the lower self and other sources and forms of evil, is the route that the individual must take to attain the state of Qur'anic "Islam" or "submission to Allah."