Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Nicholas Berg

I tried downloading the Nicholas Berg video, but it was too large for this unstable dial-up internet account. I guess part of me didn't want to watch it anyway. I remember a similar 500kB video that was sent to my email account about two years ago. I didn't know what it was, so I opened it and almost got sick to my stomach. The camera was focused on a man lying on the ground with a boot on his neck, his face down to the earth. Out of nowhere, a large knife is shown to the camera, then slowly it sinks into his neck just below the jaw line. The hand holding the knife moves it back and forth in a sawing motion while the victim screams in agony until his voice is reduced to a gurgle like sound. Eyes popping out and blood pouring from his neck. It was extremely graphic, although it was in black and white.

Strange coincidence that the Nick Berg video was released almost
simultaneously with the video of Palestinian 'freedom fighters'
displaying the severed head of an Israeli soldier on a table.
Al-Jazeera had the head blurred out, and the Nick Berg video was
casually mentioned near the end of their news bulletin, and that was
that. No extensive discussions with Arab 'intelligentsia' followed, no replaying of the video over and over again for days (as the Abu Ghraib images), no talk shows with enraged, fist shaking, name-calling Arab figures discussing the effect of these videos on the 'image' of the Islamic or Arab world. Just shame and guilty silence. Apparently, pictures of an American female soldier taunting a naked man with underwear on his head is much much more gruesome to Arabs. I guess not everyone is perfect.

So, to distance myself from the shameful hypocritical Arab and Muslim masses. I wish to denounce this barbaric act and the pathetic ideology that fueled it, to disown any person from my part of the world who would justify it, and to offer my sincere condolences and sympathy to the family and countrymen of Nicholas Berg.

And for Muslims, who are definitely going to say 'this isn't the real Islam':

"When you meet the unbelievers, strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives." Surat Mohammed:4

Grow up, and leave the 7th century.

Some angry readers have interpreted the above last statement as an
attack against fellow Muslims. That was not what I had intended. I
usually do my best to avoid theological debates on Islam for safety
considerations but I'll indulge them just this once. My purpose was to point out that Islam indeed excuses such barbaric acts. This is not the same as saying that all Muslims believe in such acts or commit them, moderate Muslims exist, but Islam is not moderate. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists have not deviated from Islam, in fact all their practices are derived from the Quran and Hadith.

So yes, Islam is the problem here. Poverty, economic conditions, abuse by so called colonialism, and political frustration are not. Similar conditions elsewhere in the world have not prompted non-Muslims to commit suicide bombings or fly planes into towers. Islam, along with favourable cultural, tribal, and social values existing in the Arab world has prompted that drive. Islam and the Quran alone are not the root cause.

The solution is not however to alienate all Muslims, or to expel them, or annihilate them. It is up to 'moderate' Muslims and their clerics to carefully examine their scriptures and to reform, the same way Jews and Christians did. The Quran is a book, and its tenets were appropriate for a certain era in history. Most of it does not apply today, so it is not 'untouchable'. You either believe in the whole book, together with its violent verses, or you should stop claiming to be a consistent believer. You cannot select verses which appeal to your argument and ignore the rest.

How would you explain these, for instance:

"The just retribution for those who fight Allah and His messenger, and commit horrendous crimes, is to be killed, or crucified, or to have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or to be banished from the land. This is to humiliate them in this life, then they suffer a far worse retribution in the hereafter." Surat Al-Ma'ida:33

"O believers, do not take Jews and Christians as allies, they are
allies of one another. Those among you who ally themselves with these belong with them."
Surat Al-Ma'ida:51

I can go on and on, but I would rather not. I have intensively examined the Quran and Sunna, and I might have a few things that would scare some pious believers. Maybe, some other time, when I'm in a safer environment, I would devote a website or a book to the subject.