Thursday, October 9, 2014

ISIS, its captives and Arab society

By Lamis Anadoni
Lamis Andoni
(The Arabic original of this article was posted earlier)
I cannot get the image out of my head of the Yazidi father crying bitterly after his daughters were kidnapped by ISIS, their fate unknown. They could be dead, they could have been sold into the new slave markets, or they could be spared from the markets because of their beauty and used to satisfy the desires of those who say they want to establish God's state on Earth.
Some of the young men of ISIS, I am sure, did not come from ultra-conservative religious societies, but from open and even Western societies, as not every member of the group lived in isolated areas. It is frightening to see them finding the freedom to satisfy their lusts by humiliating and abusing women in the so-called "Caliphate State".
According to the logic of the supreme authority within the group, which claims that its reference is Islam, it is acceptable for those who do not agree with the ISIS vision, whether Muslims or non-Muslim, to be killed; in the case of women, they can be sold into slavery or killed, as they are only incomplete creatures and the root of all sin. The mere fact that these women are Christian, Yazidi or even Muslims opposed to ISIS denies them their humanity automatically, it seems.
What is truly shocking is the absence of anger about this among many religious people, even those who are moderates. Frankly, the reason for this has to be that what ISIS is doing is an expression, albeit an extreme one, of the general male vision prevalent in Arab societies. It is all too common for men to decide on a whim what is permissible regarding women and their rights, or for their bodies to be violated. Why, then, are we claiming to be surprised by ISIS brutality and inhumanity?
Yes, I am accusing loud and clear all the principles of the "moral" upbringing, especially religious references, of suppressing the human spirit and fuelling cruelty. The emotional growth of men is being stunted and too many seem to be incapable of understanding what it means to have any kind of relationship with women, whose rights guaranteed under Islam are cast aside.
In the light of society's hypocrisy regarding gender morals and ethics, ISIS's actions are not completely rejected. If ISIS is selling women as captive slaves, who is buying them? They are men who inwardly despise women; owning a slave frees them from any moral qualms or obligations. I cannot image the fate of these women because they are being sold by ISIS to criminals with a cruel mindset.
Look at what happens to many Syrian refugees, for example, due to the exploitation of their poverty and displacement. We are seeing the rape of minors being "legitimised" based on the supposed inferiority of females and on the common characteristic of Syrian women, which is their beauty.
How can we understand the spread of the phenomenon of marrying minors, even outside the context of girls being bought from their parents? I do not have statistics, but these stories are becoming more and more common due to the moral and legal decline of our societies; there is no rule of law or moral conscience.
I am referring also to the lack of morals of any individual who harms anybody, male or female, because moral standards prevent us from hurting others, raping and abusing minors, and humiliating women or any other human beings. There is no honour in allowing men to kill women, with the blessing of the family and society. Honour is found in preserving the life and dignity of people, women included, not violating and humiliating women in "honour crimes".
The silence of religious figures makes these acts acceptable, or at least makes such violations less significant than others. In the case of the captive slaves, for example, they are considered to be from another sect, and so are regarded as easy prey.
This article may be looking in the first place at the plight of those taken captive by ISIS. In reality, though, we have to admit that they have been enslaved by the entire Arab mentality and society.

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