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The War on Terror: A War for Human Rights

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:04 pm    Post subject: The War on Terror: A War for Human Rights Reply with quote

The War on Terror: A War for Human Rights
By Robert Spencer

The Indonesian terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), demonstrated last week that the war on terror is not just an effort to prevent recurrences of September 11; it is a struggle for human rights. As JI celebrates (yes, celebrates) its murder of fifteen people and the wounding of 150 more in a suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta last Tuesday, as well as the death sentence given Thursday to JI member Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, the “smiling bomber” who murdered 202 people in Bali last October, it is instructive to remember that JI is doing all this killing for the Sharia.

The Sharia is the classic code of Islamic law that mandates stoning for adulterers and amputation for thieves, disallows a rape victim’s testimony in her own case, and hamstrings freedom of conscience by prescribing death for apostates from Islam and those who have blasphemed the Prophet — an offense that Christians in Pakistan and other beleaguered minorities in the Islamic world have found to be distressingly elastic. Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda’s southeast Asian affiliate, dreams of the day when the Sharia holds sway over the entire world, or at least its own corner of it.

Jemaah Islamiyah is fighting to create a Sharia-ruled Islamic megastate in Southeast Asia, comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern Philippines island of Mindanao. In a certain sense it’s fitting that they see blowing up innocent people as a viable means to attain this end, for the utopia that group members envision is just as brutal and unreasoning. There have been numerous indications of that recently in places where the Islamic law that JI reveres is already (in varying degrees) in force:

• The supreme court of Afghanistan on Thursday upheld death sentences for two journalists, Sayeed Mahdawi and Ali Reza Payam. Their crime? Criticizing what they called the “holy fascism” that still holds sway in Afghanistan, and asking: “If Islam is the last and the most complete of the revealed religions, why are the Muslim countries lagging behind the modern world?”

• A court in Pakistan on Tuesday sentenced another man, Bashir Ahmed, to death for making “derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet and his companions.”

• Women’s groups in Malaysia protested, thus far in vain, against a decision by that country’s Sharia court that men could divorce their wives by leaving a message on their mobile phones.

• The Jordanian parliament rejected on Islamic grounds a measure that would have given women the legal right to file for divorce, as well as another that would have led to stiff penalties for “honor killings”: the barbaric murder of young women by family members who believe that they have committed adultery, thereby shaming the family honor. Many young women have even been murdered after being raped, since traditional Islamic law allows a rape charge to be established only by the testimony of four male witnesses who saw the act itself.

• In Iraq, Muslim authorities in the Shiite holy city of Najaf overruled, also on Islamic grounds, the appointment by American authorities of a woman judge, Nidal Nasser Hussein. Afrah Najem, who like Nidal Nasser Hussein is a female lawyer in Iraq, knows that she has hit the mother of all glass ceilings: “Ours is an Islamic society that would not tolerate a woman judge.”

Draconian blasphemy laws, appallingly loose divorce laws (for men only), a totalitarian resistance to self-criticism, institutionalized brutality and oppression of women — these are the features of the Sharia law that forms the centerpiece of JI’s dream state. Their path to this utopia is stained with the blood of the nightclubbers, businessmen and bystanders that JI is rejoicing over having slaughtered in Indonesia.

Donald Rumsfeld has declared that the United States will not accept an Islamic state in Iraq. One may hope that this indicates that the human rights component of the war on terror has at least some advocates in high places. For the events recounted above illustrate why everyone who values freedom and basic human rights should oppose the Sharia, whether it is implemented in whole or part, not just in Iraq or Indonesia, but everywhere that it hinders the liberty of human beings — including Saudi Arabia.

Like a peevish schoolmarm, the judge who sentenced Amrozi scolded him for perverting Islam and jihad. But it is unlikely that any of the Muslim onlookers who cheered and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is great) when Amrozi entered the courtroom were brought to a moment of theological reckoning by the judge’s lecture. After all, moderate Muslims still have not answered the nagging question of why, if Islam forbids terrorism and the Qur’an teaches nonviolence, have so many devout Muslims around the world misinterpreted it so thoroughly and repeatedly. Where are the moderate Muslims who can teach not Western non-Muslims, but their fellow Muslims that Islam is peaceful?

If the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Muslim advocacy groups really want to demonstrate that “Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness that should not be associated with acts of violence against the innocent,” let them definitively renounce the Sharia for which Jemaah Islamiyah kills, and which brings anything but peace and mercy to those who must suffer under it. Let them work to create in the United States a truly moderate Islam that accepts the principles of Western secular society and coexistence with non-Muslims. If they do not do this, it is clear: history will judge them as being on the wrong side of this great struggle for the rights of mankind.


Robert Spencer is author of “Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith" (Encounter Books) and of "Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West" (coming this September from Regnery Publishing). An Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation, he writes frequently on Islam in a wide variety of publications.
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