I am overwhelmed with sadness over the state of the Muslim world. I am looking at the photograph of an Iranian woman about to be stoned to death in Iran, buried to her waste in dirt to keep her from running away.
A few weeks ago, I read about a 14 year-old Iranian boy who died after receiving 85 lashes for the ‘sin’ of eating in public in the month of Ramadan. Salah Uddin Choudhury has been in prison for one year in Bangladesh for the ‘crime’ of urging his nation to recognize Israel and advocating interfaith dialogue among equals as well as warning against the growing power of Islamists in Bangladesh.
What are Muslim community activists in America doing about their homegrown brutal human rights violations? They are silent.
The picture of the stoned woman has been seen by some Muslims I know in the Middle East and also fellow Americans, Christians and Jews. The first reaction by the Muslims was “what did she do?” while the first reaction by Americans was “How could this happen?”
The Muslim majority here in the US remains silent seeing the outrageous brutal medieval-style and inhumane punishments practiced in many parts of the Muslim world. Americans, who are puzzled by the silence of the so called “moderate” Arab-Americans after 9/11, do not understand that Arabs learned to be silent and indifferent to terror before even coming to America. Generations after generations of Muslims lived under dictatorships and were trained to look the other way when Muslims tortured and terrorized other Muslims. The result is a population de-sensitized to seeing brutality and horror. Too many of them see cruel punishment as normal. Their silence over the killing was not just an insult to America after 9/11, but is aiding and abetting the cruel culture of hate, terror, torture and beheadings.
Arab men, known for ‘machismo’, are doing nothing while watching such horrible injustice happen to their women and children. There is no uprising by Arab women over the inhumanity and cruelty their sisters in Islam are suffering. “She must have done something really bad!” one Muslim woman said to me after seeing the picture. By that, she of course meant having sex outside of marriage. 2000 years after Christianity abandoned stoning as a form of punishment, Islam still continues to practice it.
Even Muslim groups who live with Western freedoms are not making a strong stand to stop this cruel practice. There is a petition being circulated on the Internet by mostly non-Muslim or former Muslim groups to save the life of yet another Iranian woman from being stoned to death. On the other hand, many Muslim women in America, all the while enjoying Western freedoms, are busy covering their ankles, complaining about the French law against wearing religious symbols in French public schools or filing law suits to get their faces covered up on their drivers’ licenses in America.
These hijab-wearing Muslim women expressed no outrage over the brutal murder of Margaret Hassan in Iraq, a British woman who dedicated 30 years of her life to helping Iraqis. How many properly covered up Saudi, gulf state, Egyptian, Syrian or Jordanian women went to Iraq, Iran, Algeria or Sudan, to help their sisters and brothers in Islam as did Margaret Hassan? The answer is practically none. That job was usually left to Westerners who do it out of their Judeo-Christian inspired sense of humanity.
Most Islamic studies professors and Islamist groups in America exercise their freedom of speech given to them by America, but only when speaking against America, Judaism, Christianity, President Bush and Pat Robertson. However, they never dare to criticize their culture of origin and some even still have respect for the tyranny of the old country. They leave the job of ridding the Muslim world of terror to the victims of terror, namely America and Israel. Whenever they criticize the Muslim world it is in the context of blaming America for supporting dictatorships. However, when America attempts to bring democracy and get rid of Arab dictators they turn around and accuse America of occupation or empire building. No matter what America does, they voice criticism. That can only mean they do not seem to be serious about reformation in Muslim countries. They are, however, very serious about embarrassing, criticizing and hurting America.
Many Muslim groups and Middle East studies professors are aligning themselves with the liberal ‘hate America’ crowd in Western academia and media. Three days after the Tsunami in South Asia, I saw an Arab-American leader criticize America’s response as “slow and too little, too late” on CNN. They have the audacity to criticize America and give a free pass to the oil rich Arab countries that should be the first to respond financially to save their poor Muslim brothers and sisters in Indonesia.
Islamism and the old defeated and failed ideology of pan-Arabism is what many Islamic groups in America are advocating. They are silent in the face of Muslim poverty, corruption, neglect of human rights, oppression of women, honor killings and the brutal and unusual punishments such as cutting off limbs, flogging and stoning. They are not using American freedoms as an opportunity to change their countries of origin, but as an opportunity to influence and change America to be like the countries they came from. Their goal is also to keep Muslim-Americans under their control and the control of Muslim world mullahs, sheiks and dictators they should have left behind. How can any one take them seriously when they do not lift a finger to protect human rights in Muslim countries, but are militant in turning Arab-Americans into yet another voting block to influence American politics? They take no stand to protect the life of the Muslim woman being stoned and explain away such atrocities and beheadings while crying ‘profiling’ in America by the FBI.
Wahhabi Islamist groups in the West are dreaming of a day when Sharia Islamic laws that call for stoning women come to America and dominate the whole world. That is why Muslims in the West are not outraged over this picture.
Arab-Americans should reject Islamist groups and become part of the solution and not part of the problem in America. Let the history books say that Arab-Americans were the seed and cause of change in the Middle East. Let us stand behind President Bush in trying to bring about democracy in the Arab world. Let us form active genuine peace groups and reach out to other religions. Let us celebrate the freedoms America has given us by extending our compassion to the victims of terror left behind in our countries of origin. That should be the mission of Arab organizations in America and not the silly anti-American causes they are pursuing with the blessings from the enemies of America.
Arab-Americans should no longer stand silent before acts of terror and beheadings on our fellow brave American men and women in the US armed forces as well. America should never allow the poison of medieval-style justice and morality to penetrate its psyche under the guise of multiculturalism. It is time for America to hold Muslim countries and culture responsible for terrorism. Those countries are waging a two-faced war against the West while hiding behind their terrorists and their sacred veils.
Yes, the silent Muslim majority is the problem. Their silence is empowering not only the terrorists and brutal dictatorships, but all of the cultural, political and social pathologies behind them. Arab- Americans who speak out might be called ‘heroes’ by some. However, speaking out of love and gratitude for America is the duty of all American citizens.