Monday, July 12, 2004

Arab Holocaust

I came across an article, published on El Correo's online OpEd page. I have kept a copy in the original language here, as Spanish newspapers have a tendency to ask payment for access to their archives. From now on, I will try and keep as many relevant articles in their original language archived on this site.

The El Correo newspaper lends its OpEd page to Adbel Haqq Salaberria, who is the spokesman for the Comunidad Islámica en España, which represents muslims in Spain. Mr. Salaberria speaks in this article of a seminar he attended, organized by a Basque cultural center, which dealt with current opinions among Arabs (No, I'm not going to use 'the Arab Street'). They showed a movie, with in it an interview with the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, the Lebanese, Iranian-backed terrorist organization responsible for the 1983 bombings of the American embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut amongst other, killing over 300 US servicemen and women. Of course, a spiritual leader has nothing to do with all this. This view is not beholden to islamists, but can be considered commonplace in Europe, where until recently a distinction was made between Hamas and its self-proclaimed military wing, Izzedine Al Qassam. Only the latter was recognized as a terrorist organization in the EU, leaving Hamas free to travel around Europe in search of funds on behalf of the 'social' side of Hamas. Recall also the outrage in Europe over the targeted killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas' 'spiritual' leader.

Read the article below, I've highlighted some sentences which I found disturbing.

Islamic Limits To Islam

During the last day of the excellent and successful seminar 'Contemporary Arab Representations ' organized by Arteleku in Donostia, we had the opportunity to witness the launch of a video titled 'Voices of Current Arab Critical Thought' directed and presented by Gema Martín Muñoz, Arab World Sociology professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), and Rafael Ortega, historian and specialist in the arab world. Among other important, interesting and hard to find testimonies, there is one which is especially significant. The Shi'a ayatolah Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of Hezbollah, considered a modern, 'moderate' reformist leader. According to Gema Martín Muñoz, who went to his residence in Beirut to hold the interview, his house is visited by a pilgrimage of Arab personalities, islamists and laymen, left or right, who respect him as a living symbol of the resistance of the Arab people. One needs to remember that Hezbollah succeeded in liberating Lebanon from Israeli occupation, a victory without precedents in more than half a century of Arab humiliation.

During the interview, the discourse used by this leader of the Pary of God was very grandiose and filled with friendly and reconciliatory words , above all towards Christianity. Words of tolerance for other beliefs, of friendship with the Sunni brothers -especially in Iraq-, of democracy and human rights, all come from the mouth of the man who, about twenty years ago, delivered a 'fatwa' which incited the Shi'a of Lebanon to organize the suicide attacks against the American embassy in Beirut and against an American control post in the Lebanese capital. Both attacks left hundreds dead and sped up the pull out of American troops deployed in Lebanon in 1983. Everything [he said -V-Man] seemed to be taken out of a script which could well have been written by Kofi Annan, and which included a condemnation of the March 11 attacks (in Madrid, V-Man). But then the hopeless situation of Palestine came up. In this matter, the reasoning was ,more or less, the following: What can the Palestinians do against the sophisticated weaponry of the Israeli army? They use the only thing they have, their body, and they throw themselves like bombs against an invader who deprives them of everything. They are not terrorists, they are martyrs. Granted, there are civilian dead. But the Palestinians aren't after killing innocents but instead look to attack Israel's security, and they are legitimate to do so.

Islam is not a political doctrine, something that can be shaped according to human conjuncture. It allows for some interpretation and there is diverse jurisprudence, but it has unavoidable issues and fixed borders. One of which is that the means are perfectly limited and only by using these established means, and no others, can the result sought after be reached. This brings us to two key issues when talking of suicides and the war strategies of some self-appointed Islamic groups, not just in Palestine, but in the terrible world war scenario of today: the issue of value of life, especially human life; and the issue of jihad, its requirements and limits.

To Islam, like with all Judeo-Christian traditions, life is a gift and a holy posession. A human being is just a Calif, meaning, a representative or caretaker of God on earth, who must be held accountable of his care. When sacrifying an animal, a muslim must do so in the name of God, out of respect for the owner of that life. The general norm is 'Thou shalt not kill'. Taking one's own life is also not permitted, which is why Islam does not condone suicide.

In relation to jihad a series of circumstances are necessary, which aren't present in any known conflict. To start, it must be carried out in the name of Islam, and in defense of a territory in which Sharia is applied in full. An emir call for it, not the leader of a messianic political group, or the president of a banana republic. First, Islam must be offered to the adversaries, and if the renounce it, they are to be attacked. You may not kill the eldery, children or women, except if they take part in battle. You may not poison the waters, nor cut down trees, nor use fire. You may not fight an enemy which outnumbers the muslims by two to one, except for when the muslims have better weapons and are clearly better prepared. You must respect all pacts and safe-conducts you reach with the enemy. It is clear that the act of suicide or the killing of innocents isn't contemplated. If you cannot fight, the jurisprudence advises to seek shelter in the closest muslim lands under the protection of an emir, or to remain under the yoke of the enemy, always and when permitted practicizing Islam and continuously inviting the invader to embrace Islam. A similar attitude, held by the Sufi brotherhoods of the eastern caliphate, converted the savage mongol invaders, of which was based another and powerful caliphate.

To an agnostic it may sound ridiculous when, in a hopeless situation, the only thing that is left to the believer is return to God. The true believer puts it in practice. What's more, the muslims have an impregnable strength: their five pillars (faith, prayer, charity, fasting, pilgrimage). If muslims would dedicate themselves more to constructing the 'House of Islam' in stead of setting upon doing battle in the 'House of War', the help, which without a doubt they need to survive the holocaust they are suffering, would come without delay. This is compulsory belief for a muslim. The despair represents an absolute loss of faith and gives weight to powers foreign to God, which in turn is a very grave sin in our Sharia. The key to escape this prison is with the five pillars of our religion, abandoned in part to follow the road of modernist and reformist language, a false idol which demands our sons' sacrifice and the corruption of our hearts with hate.

Yala al-Din Rumi, universally acclaimed master sufi, said on one occasion: "If any muslim should have doubts if what was promised and commanded by God was possible, he is a hypocrite. If he believes that what God has ordered him to do, is not possible to do, you should hit him hard with his head against a wall. Something clearly is not working in his his head. And if afterwards he still thinks it is impossible, you should hit him harder".
I want to comment on a couple of things. First, it is unclear from the article whether he is quoting Fadlallah or giving his own opinion when he talks of suicide bombers. The way he writes of his experience, I fear it's a mix of both, as is the case in more instances in the article. And then there's that 'To an agnostic it may sound ridiculous when, in a hopeless situation, the only thing that is left to the believer is return to God. The true believer puts it in practice.' which can be explained in two ways, of which one would be horrifying.

I'm getting a bit tired of all those wise men rambling about how we in the West don't know what Jihad is, then poffering some vague explanation ('it's something personal', 'only in self-defense', 'it's something which has never happened before, because you'd know it if it would' like he's saying).

Oh, and did he really mention 'Arab' and 'Holocaust' in the same line?

The bold part in the semi-last paragraph (the last one is just, well, to quote Seinfeld, 'it doesn't help') is just blatantly opposing integration of his communitiy in a Western society. And on top of that -but that might just be my paranoid eye, is he blaming us for 'a false idol which demands our sons' sacrifice and the corruption of our hearts with hate' -suicide bombings?

If this man is representing muslims living in Spain, we have a bigger problem than I thought.