Kobrin: Obviously Atefeh Rajabi was a very brave young woman to have spoken out against the oppression and lack of freedom of the Shiite regime of terror. Her brutal execution exposes the weak underpinnings of such delusional thinking right down to a fetish for women’s underwear! It is important to understand the link between the pathological control of the female and Islamic suicide terrorism. Such terrorism begins in the home. It is learned behavior – the need to hate and the need to have an enemy embodied in the female is in place by age three. For Shiite Islam it is even more extreme because it lost the battle with the Sunnis over who was the rightful heir to Islam. The Shiites wallow in their self-pity for being the losers as they felt that Ali and Husayn should have been the recipients of Muhammad’s mantel not Abu Bakr who was not a blood relative. So for the Shiites blood plays a very specific role in its obsessive quest for a pseudo-honor which really masks huge shame and humiliation for having lost this initial war within Islam. Hence blood vengeance continues to be sought.
Least we forget, modern suicide terrorism begins with Hizbollah, the Party of God, the premier Shiite terrorist organization in the early 1980s in Lebanon. They borrowed heavily from their Iranian co-religionists – such as hostage taking and then the alleged martyrdom, and the scapegoating of children as bomb sweepers at the front for the Iran-Iraq War. The Shiites harbor a special confusion concerning blood and contamination.
Blood is confused with water as in some way being able to “cleanse” family honor. This is a common primitive misperception about the scary nature of blood. However, most peoples and their cultures outgrow such infantile thinking. Honor is a code word for sexual purity of the women – clearly another obsession. The men harbor a fear of the mother’s body because she gave birth to them, that is, that they literally issued from her body. The early mother is either hated or revered – extreme splitting into good or evil. The non-male is viewed as female. There is even a hidden wish to return to a kind of prelapsarian womb of the early mother, pre-birth, that is to remain in utero forever – completely taken care of.
You see, this is the life fusion which is transformed into a death fusion along with the mixing of bloods in the suicide bombings where they must target, take hostage and murder the innocent by fusing with them in death as they can not die alone nor can they live alone. The making of body parts in the suicide bombing also is an indicator of how primitive the carnage and thinking is – one finds this in serial killing. Suicide bombings are a form of political serial killing on the part of the bomb makers and the other terrorist operatives who keep on killing even after they have killed off their own suicide bomber. One bombing is never enough because it is a bottomless pit of hatred and thirst for blood vengeance – a kind of addiction.
Even the Jew is seen as a female. Now there are virtually no Jews left in Iran but we find huge anti-Semitism. This is often the case – anti-Semitism without Jews as in parts of Europe. The need to hate remains and it is like a bottomless pit – the ongoing scapegoating of woman or the Jews. Again in Iran, there was even the law that a Jew could not go outside when it was raining or snowing because the Iranians actually feared that the Jews would contaminate the water which the Muslims might use for ritual ablutions!
In addition, there is also a historical link between Iranian fascism as Professor Hughes describes and Nazism. We see this most especially in the terrorist groups in Lebanon who embraced the deployment of the female suicide bombers in the mid-1980s such as the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP) also called the Partie Populaire Syrienne (PPS) who under the influence of Hizbollah were the first to use women as female suicide bombers against the Israelis in southern Lebanon.
This terrorist group was founded by Antoun Sa’adeh who loved Hitler. Often it is argued that these female suicide bombers were Christian, therefore this proves that suicide terrorism is not about Islam. This is surely a specious argument because in ever instance where there has been suicide bombings, the region has been drenched in Islamic violence and its Jihad in theory and practice. This goes for the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka where the Muslims were thrown out of the terrorist organization in the early 1990s because they could not be trusted. Even though they are a “secular” nationalist separatist terrorist organization, Hindu-Muslim violence has gone on for centuries in the Indian subcontinent. Lebanon, too, has been saturated in blood politics of Islam including sectarian violence.
Bat Ye’or, the leading authority on the status of Christians and Jews (the Dhimma whose root means “to blame”) in Islam, has underscored how Arab Christians have been co-opted by Islamic terrorist organizations, especially with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But, returning to the theme of the Mullah’s Misogyny, domestic violence and Islamic suicide terrorism, the behaviors are primitive in nature, they are imitative. Just like toddlers who don’t know how to really be, the Mullah as terrorist merely imitates the violent behavior which he learned at home. He learned that it is acceptable to murder a woman and to call it honorable.
There is a long tradition in Shiite Islam of suicide terrorism. After all the Isma’ili was a sect of Shiite Islam which terrorized this part of the world during the Middle Ages. They created the Hashishiyun (lit. Ar. the Hashish Eaters) also known as the Assassins from whence comes the English word “assassination”. They fought “fil sabil Allah”, literally fighting in the path of Allah until death. Even if one where to put aside, its terrorist organization Hizbollah for the moment, Shiite Islam has religious practices which use blood in order to terrify and to bind the child into a fused group identification. One example is the controversial practice of Tatbir, where the parent cuts the forehead of the young child during the alleged mourning and commemoration of the massacre of Husayn on the plains of Karbala.
We have Tatbir on t.v. and in the magazines -- the blood letting. This is traumatizing to the child and it is meant to control the child through fear – all the more so for the little girl. The parents are seen whipping themselves causing blood to flow down their backs through a group hysteria which causes an incitement to direct murderous rage outwards. A child never learns to contain his rage or to learn how to self-sooth and to be calm – just act out rage and kill. These kinds of cultural practices with their accompanying and reinforcing ideologies do not bode well for finding peaceful solutions or promoting negotiations for peace. Instead these practices MAKE and MAINTAIN the female as the most vulnerable such as Atefeh Rajabi who is executed for speaking truth to power because she was a female who the regime could not “control”. Bottom line – terrorism – be it domestic violence or Islamic suicide terrorism is about the pathological control of the female because IRONICALLY, it is the men who can not control their own sexual urges and desires.
Thus it fits that the Ayatollah Khomeini abused his wife Batool and that she was held captive by him. The thinking is like this – if a Muslim man were to see a woman, he would not be able to control himself, so he merely dictates that a “sheet” that is a hejab be thrown over her so that she can be literally erased from the landscape of reality --out of sight, out of mind. This is in place of the male learning to control himself or even assuming responsibility for his actions.
Similarly, headgear is always important because culturally it signals one’s communal affiliation but also at a deeper level for women, headgear – the scarf – is a classic example of concretely attempting to control what is inside her head, namely her thoughts with the male fear that she could become an independent thinker like Atefeh Rajabi. This is very threatening to an authoritarian regime. What we see happening in France too over the headscarf, the foulard, allows the Muslim men, to be supremely passive aggressive, letting the Muslim women be the carriers of their rage just like the female suicide bomber. These Muslim women appear as if they have a voice in Islam when in fact they are being used and abused by their own men – it is a smoke screen. The Muslim men merely let their women do their dirty work under the guise of modesty and pseudo-independence.
As for drug addiction mentioned above, this fits perfectly with the craving for pleasure and the inability of the males to control themselves joined with feeling impotent and incompetent. It is a skewed thinking. You know, even the Qur’an has been written with blood instead of “regular” ink. This shows the same obsession and confusion concerning the nature of blood, the human body and the profound denial of death which nonetheless, borders on necrophilia. Furthermore there is the ongoing receding horizon so to speak of splitting hairs with regard to rules and regulations – hence the institution of a new kind of women’s underwear. They must control everything – obviously, it is impossible to engineer such control.
Professor Hughes asks a great question -- how could psychoanalysis explain why Khomeini designed a theocratic dictatorship based on the hatred and suppression of women? First, I agree with Professor Hughes that I do not mean to appear to be so reductive as to think that only a psychoanalytic understanding can explain all. I have studied many languages and cultures, including Arabic and especially Old Spanish in Arabic script of that alleged golden age of medieval Spain where the myth is that everyone got along with each other – Christian, Jew and Muslim. Terror is always culture specific. Nonetheless, psychoanalysis does have a lot to offer because it remains to be the only viable theory for explaining paranoia. Moreover, psychoanalysis is no longer limited to the West. There are many Muslims who are psychoanalysts who live in the region as well as in Europe, and North America. We rarely hear from them though. One of the best books on the subject is written by a French trained Tunisian Muslim psychoanalyst, Abdelwahab Bouhdiba called Sexuality in Islam. All of my work on Islamic suicide terrorism has been done by working from within the cultures and using Arab Muslim psychoanalysts or mental health professionals as much as possible.
To answer Professor Hughes’ question and as Ms. Zand-Bonazzi has noted -- the Ayatollah Khomeini engaged in domestic violence in his own home. It follows then, that he would create a theocratic dictatorship based on the hatred and suppression of women. He suppressed them at home hence, he would also do so outside of his home -- it is a concrete extension of his own daily practices and quite revealing about how much he must have hated his own mother and feared that he was himself a female not a male as he had the pervasive need to pathologically control all women.
Before I turn over the discussion permit me to address the subject of the Chechens as it was raised earlier and what happened in Beslan and the dual simultaneous airplane crashes over Russia by the Chechens. It is a supreme tragedy. The taking of Middle School #1 and the murder of all those hostages, especially the children. I just completed a comprehensive study of the cultural contexts in which the female suicide bomber has been deployed or is threatening to be deployed in twelve cultures to date. I called this study “Fueling the Flames of the Female Suicide Bomber.” This took me several years and a lot of research. I read extensively on the Chechens. While Islam came relatively late to Chechnya in the 18th century, its ideologies which as I have repeatedly stressed are predicated on splitting between good vs. bad with no middle ground or balance, had uncanny fit with the pre-existing Chechen culture of the adat, the clan system, child rearing practices which are shame-based, honor and blood vengeance. This is a culture where bride stealing, a kind of primitive hostage taking, and where and where cleansing family honor by blood, merely masks the same kind of obsession for female sexual purity and its fears. Again, the pathological control of the female. It is patriarchy at its worst. There is no question too that the Chechens are being influenced by Afghan alumnae as my colleague Yoram Schweitzer has dubbed them, and that Chechnya was ripe for this kind of Islamic suicide terrorism. It is only a matter of time before it will happen more frequently in Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
While there is no question too, that the Russians have behaved atrociously in Chechnya, such behavior can never justify the murder of innocent children through Islamic suicide terrorism or what I call “the you do it too syndrome” where the Chechens or the Palestinians or the Shiites bemoan their alleged victimhood claiming that they have no other means to fight back save for suicide terrorism. This is the same kind of argument and thinking of those who blame the true victim as in the honor killing's “she made me do it.” Such thinking demonstrates and reveals the profound impairment of the murderer who controls through murder. The Mullah’s Misogyny is merely the Mullah as Murderer. This is why nothing will change and Islamic suicide terrorism will be with us until and when the world begins to understand the profound ramifications of misogyny and hatred of women which leads down this particularly perverse and violent path – fi sabil Allah.
While there are those who scream that Islam is peaceful, this is only one half of the story – the other half is the ideology of Jihad which can not be so easily expunged from the Qur’an and the Sira, the biography of Muhammad. Nothing will change until the discussion about this tactical tool of suicide terrorism, the suicide bomber, moves to this deeper level -- where Islam in general and Shiite Islam in particular, are understood to all too conveniently reinforce preexisting cultural practices, customs and ideologies which exacerbate a people’s paranoid splitting with its need to hate and the need to have enemies, focused on the female. This kind of hatred is like a malignant super-glue that keeps a fused unhealthy group together by a charismatic leader such as the Mullah, Osama bin Laden or the Ayatollah Khomeini -- all for destructive purposes. And above all, its enemy is always perceived as female in fantasy, if not in reality.
Hughes: As we can see from the many examples provided by Ms. Zand-Bonazzi and Dr. Kobrin, a discussion of the misogyny of fundamentalist mullahs is not superficial or ancillary to understanding global Islamic terrorism. Many academic and diplomatic professionals consider the experiences and social status of women and girls of secondary importance compared to terrorism, nuclear weapons programs, and the expansionism of Islamic fascism, but in this political movement, terrorism begins at home. To understand the nature of Islamic fundamentalism, there is no better place to start than the analysis of the murder of a 16 year old girl for “acts incompatible with chastity.”
The details of the short life of Atefeh Rajabi that have emerged describe the corruption of government officials and their complicity in the crimes they accuse and punish girls for committing. Atefeh had been arrested before and whipped with 100 lashes for sexual misconduct. According to one of her friends, Ateqeh talked about what the “Islamic moral policemen” did to her while she was in jail. Ateqeh had nightmares about it and said that Behshahr Prison was “Hell itself” (Iran Focus, August 31, 2004).
The executions the Iranian regime carries out in public on a weekly basis reek with the stench of political murder and cover-ups. The mullahs keep the population too terrified to rebel. According to an eyewitness of Atefeh’s hanging: “When agents of the State Security Forces brought her to the gallows, I felt cold sweat running down my back. She looked so young and innocent, standing there in the middle of all these bearded men in military fatigues. Judge Reza’i must have felt a personal grudge against her. He put the rope around her neck and left her dangling on the gallows for 45 minutes. I looked around and everyone in the crowd was sobbing and damning the mullahs for doing this to our young people” (Iran Focus, August 31, 2004).
Since 1979, there has been endless talk about headscarves, proper coverings, and even socks and undergarments. Such discussions seem so trivial, yet the covering of women and girls’ bodies is central to mullahs’ fundamentalist ideology, and the constant harassment, arrest, whipping, and even murder of non-compliant females is the way the mullahs maintain control over females and threaten the entire Iranian population.
Consider the recent incident where Islamic terrorists kidnapped two French journalists in Iraq and threatened to kill them if France prohibited schoolgirls from wearing headscarves. The power to force schoolgirls to wear headscarves is that important to the fundamentalists!
In conclusion, misogyny is central to Islamic fascist ideology, just as anti-Semitism was central to Nazism. It is the mullahs’ obsession. Suppression of women and girls is the measure of their political success and control of society. If women and girls could throw off the hejab, the mullahs’ theocracy would crumble because the most basic tenet to their ideology and means of control will be defeated. I hope that some day soon Atefeh’s death will be avenged by the defeat of the mullahs’ regime.
To finish reading this symposium, click here.