HUSAIN: Terror in the dark

While U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice engages in a hackneyed pious outcry over Syrian atrocities that the world has become accustomed to hear from the United States whenever an enemy state violates human rights or U.N. resolutions, America’s complicity in oppression is being ignored. America’s protégés in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are murdering, torturing, imprisoning and demolishing houses of worship in the dark with American military and political support.

According to Amnesty International, since the outbreak of the Bahraini uprising against the U.S.-backed Sunni dictatorship in Bahrain in February last year, the Bahraini regime has murdered at least 47 people, imprisoned more than 2,500 people, tortured five people to death and sacked at least 4,000 people from their jobs for participating in protests. Physicians for Human Rights documented systematic and targeted attacks and torture against Bahraini medical personnel who attended wounded and dying protesters during the uprising. The Saudi regime continues to amputate hands and legs, behead women for allegedly practicing witchcraft and demolish historical sites in the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina.

The puritan Saudi regime has demolished 95 percent of Islam’s millennium-old historical sites in the past two decades alone. Since the early years of Saudi control over Mecca and Medina in the early 20th century, the regime has demolished mausoleums that housed Islam’s great figures of the seventh and eighth centuries. Recently, the house of Prophet Muhammad’s wife Khadijah in Mecca has been turned into a toilet block. Seventeenth-century Ottoman-carved columns in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the sixth-century house in which the Prophet Muhammad was born, and the 15th-century green dome that rests above the tomb holding the Prophet are under threat of destruction by the Saudi regime.

This Saudi cultural vandalism should not be of concern to Muslims alone. Islam’s heritage is now part of the human heritage; it belongs as much to the West as it does to the East. You just need to look at the verses of the Koran inscribed above Sterling Memorial Library’s main entrance to appreciate the role Islam — alongside our world’s other great religions and civilizations — has played in humanity’s collective advancement. The whole world should abhor the savagery the Saudi regime is perpetrating against Islam’s earliest historical sites and great figures.

Both the Saudi and Bahraini regimes maintain apartheid in state institutions. The Shiite majority in Bahrain is excluded from the security forces, and security posts are largely staffed by Sunnis. Sunni mercenaries recruited from Jordan, Syria and Pakistan comprise a large chunk of the Bahraini regime’s front-line forces that deal with Shiite protesters. In Saudi Arabia, Shiites face persecution that curtails religious freedoms. Public schools tell them they are unbelievers. Shiites cannot serve as judges in ordinary courts and are barred from senior government and military posts.

Yalies should know that the pro-American dictatorial regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been sustained by American military and political support. In the last two years alone, in what is thought to be the single largest arms deal in U.S. history, the United States and Saudi Arabia forged a deal worth $60 billion of advanced aircraft and sophisticated weaponry. Every year, the United States sells $200 million of weapons to Bahrain. But the U.S. government seems indifferent to the Bahraini regime’s deployment of toxic terror against protesters; a Pennsylvania-based company has supplied the Bahraini regime with tear gas that has killed five civilians, including women, children and the disabled.

It is easy to overlook U.S. support for these regimes and explain the lack of democracy in the Middle East with jejune protestations about the incompatibility of Islam with democracy. The Bahraini and Saudi regimes have crushed their people’s quest for dignity in the dark with U.S.-made weapons, and we hear nothing more from the regimes’ American and European patrons than repeated empty expressions of deep concern.

Faisal Husain is a first-year graduate student studying history.


  • ignatz

    Well, now. We can all agree that Susan Rice’s verbal emissions are devoid of wisdom and should be ignored. Too, we can all agree that the House of Saud is wicked and should have fallen long ago. But these points in no way refute “the incompatibility of Islam with democracy.” Look at the world’s Islamic nations and see the depressing absence of democracy — indeed, of basic human freedoms — in virtually all of them. (Algeria calls itself a democracy even though its president was actually selected by the army.) We could debate why Islam has failed throughout history to accept democracy. But Husain’s eagerness to “blame America first” should not obscure the brute fact that freedom is simply not to be found in Islam. Not in the seventh century, not in the fifteenth century, and not in our time either.

  • ColinRoss

    Ignatz, your arguments are very foolish and uninformed. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, and is democratic. What did the protesters of the Arab Spring chant as they fought for their basic human freedoms? Allahu Akbar. Have a little more faith in the universal human need for dignity, respect and liberty.

    P.S. How was European democracy doing in the 7th and 15th centuries?

    • River_Tam

      > P.S. How was European democracy doing in the 7th and 15th centuries?

      That’s quite a standard you’re holding them too.

    • ldffly

      You might try the Roman Republic and ancient Athens. Not perfect, but no human society is perfect.

  • Arafat

    Could someone send me pictures of the Bamiyam Buddhist sculptures? You know, the ones Islamists blew to smithereens in Afghanistan.

    The history of Islam is filled with endless examples of destruction of non-Muslim’s artifacts.

    Muslims also re-write history to suit their goals – the destruction of other cultures – and one can see this happening live today in the Middle East (and with the West’s partial, or complete collusion).

    I guess it’s of some solace, though, to know Islam does it to itself as well. It’s more than Sunnis and Shi’ites killing one naother with wild abandon it includes, as well, the destruction of their artifacts too. Gosh, what a shame.

  • ignatz

    Colin Ross nicely proved my point — that basic human freedom is absent in “virtually all” of the world’s Islamic countries — by reminding us about Indonesia. Thanks, Colin!

    • ColinRoss

      NATO member Turkey.
      Egypt (if the secular army is prevented from killing democracy in its infancy).
      The list goes on. None of these countries has a perfect democracy, but neither did we. They are all progressing and struggling towards it as any country does. Islam is just like any other factor–it can be a bad influence if in the hands of extremists, or a good one in the hands of those inclined towards republican ideals. If you think Islam gave us terrorism, then Christianity gave us the Crusades. Neither is an accurate statement–misguided, ignorant, or evil people gave us both.

  • ignatz

    Really, Colin! Egypt? It’s ruled by the military, and there’s no democracy, only the feverish dreams of Western intellectuals. Tunisia? You say Tunisia is “imperfect,” but it’s far worse than that. “Independent human rights groups . . . have documented that basic human and political rights are not respected. The regime obstructs in any way possible the work of local human rights organizations. In the Economist’s 2008 Democracy Index Tunisia is classified as an authoritarian regime ranking 141 out of 167 countries studied.” Would YOU like to live in that “progressing and struggling” society? No, I didn’t think so.

    You refuse to face the facts, Colin, because they demolish your a priori assumption that “Islam is just like any other factor.” Well, it’s not. Islam is the only religion that slaughters people daily on 5 continents to achieve its goals. Check out Better yet, go study some history.

    • ColinRoss

      First, as I said and you seem to be ignorant of, the Egyptian military is secular, not Islamist, and opposing the forces, many Islamic-based, that are striving for democracy.
      Second, I’m not surprised that a 2008 evaluation of Tunisia classified it as authoritarian, seeing as the revolution that has established democracy there did not happen until 2010. I am surprised that you want to argue about Islam and democracy and did not know this.
      Finally, your claim that Islam is slaughtering people daily is repugnant and not worthy of a response.

  • ignatz

    I agree that the Islamic slaughter taking place in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America is repugnant. And the Western world agrees with you that it’s not worthy of a response. Wouldn’t want to appear insensitive to Islam, after all……

  • Inigo_Montoya

    I’m curious, ignatz,

    What is our course of action if we accept your view that Islam and therefore Muslims are innately and immutably violent and anti-democratic?

    Your other posts suggest that you believe that (A) America can’t safely leave Muslim countries and/or individuals be, and that (B), so long as they’re Muslim, America can’t negotiate with them.

    Are you, then, prepared to stand behind what you’re tacitly advocating?

    It seems to me that there’s only one course of action to take with a person whom “we’re not safe leaving alone” and who is “innately and immutably violent.” That sort of person is a dangerous potential killer, and needs to be forcibly detained.

    Your statements, in other words, together imply Muslims must either be converted or, failing that, forcibly subdued. Are you prepared to advocate mass religious persecution? Because that’s what you’re advocating.

  • Arafat

    Turkey has jailed more journalists than any other country in the world. Turkey’s decades long flirtation with democracy is quickly fading as the latest Islamist (Recep Erdogan) strips the former MILITARY (yes military) leaders of their power.

    Erdogan and his Islamist friends have rekindled Islam’s hatred of the Kurds and have led several military actions against the Kurds. They have diminished the secular rights and freedoms that were commonly accepted under the military rule.

    A democracy is more than voting. It includes the freedom to protest, question, express different opinions without being thrown in jail. It includes minorities having rights and not being victims of military actions.

    Here is one man’s take on Turkey’s enlightened governance:

  • Arafat

    The source of Muslim repression, or why Muslims are drawn to repressive leaders like moths to flames:

    Islam’s prophet was a theocratic, megalomaniac. Unlike Christ, Buddha or other religious leaders, Mohammed demanded that he ruled over everything.

    Christ said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Mohammed said and practiced the opposite.

    Sharia law is all about repression of the individual, whereas democracy is about empowering the individual.

    Free speech, freedom to choose a religion (or not to choose any religion), freedom of conscience are all alien to Islam.

    It’s “hip” among the mainstream media to write about The Arab Spring as if it connoted a sort of rebirth, but anyone who has studied Islam realizes that this misleading misnomer is the ultimate lie and says more about the ignorance of media organizations like the NYT, CNN, BBC, etc… than it has to say about the real world. But, then again, that’s what intelligent people have come to expect from our media and the pundits they pay big bucks to help them sell advertising space.

  • Arafat

    This is as good as ColinRos can do in highlighting and Islamic democracy which tells us all we need to know about how incompatible Islam and democracy really are.

  • ignatz

    Inigo_Montoya asks rhetorically how the West should respond to the global challenge of Islamic aggression and brutality, a question well worth pondering, but then abruptly proclaims that anyone worried about this problem is is tacitly advocating “mass religious persecution,” presumably of Muslims. Just for the record, I have never advocated anything of the sort. One might have hoped that a Yalie could contemplate a serious problem without demonizing the person who pointed it out.

  • Inigo_Montoya

    So what do you advocate? If Muslims pose a violent threat so long as they are Muslim, and if this will be the case even if they are left alone, does this not imply that they must either be converted, or, if they refuse to convert, forcibly subdued? And isn’t that the definition of religious persecution? Where do you get off the train of reasoning?

  • ignatz

    Why not start the ball rolling with an all-day symposium at Yale on “Combatting the Global Challenge of Islamic Aggression”? We’ve certainly had many such symposia on far less important topics….

  • ignatz

    Religious cleansing is currently underway in nations like Nigeria, where Boko Haram—”Western Education is Forbidden”—and other Islamic groups have declared jihad on the Christian minorities of the north, killing and displacing thousands, burning and bombing hundreds of churches, most notoriously this last Christmas, where over forty people were killed while celebrating Christmas mass. Likewise, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, about half of Iraq’s one million Christians have been forced by targeted violence to flee their homeland, the most notorious incident, again, being a church attack, where some 60 worshippers were killed.

    Churches are constantly being attacked, burned, or forced into closure, not just in Nigeria and Iraq, but in Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia. In Egypt alone, after several churches were burned, thousands of Christian Copts gathered to demonstrate—only to be slaughtered by the military, including by being run-over by armored vehicles.

    Muslim converts to Christianity are regularly ostracized, beat, killed, or imprisoned—recent examples coming from Algeria, Eritrea, Kashmir, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and even Western nations. Iran’s Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, whose plight actually made it to the mainstream media, is but one of many people imprisoned and tortured for simply following their conscience and converting to Christianity. Uganda offers a typical example: there, a Muslim father locked his 14-year-old daughter for several months without food or water, simply because she embraced Christianity. She weighed 44 pounds when rescued.

    Christian girls are being abducted, raped, and forced to convert to Islam—recent examples coming from Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Sudan. In Pakistan alone, “a 12 year-old Christian [was] gang raped for eight months, forcibly converted and then ‘married’ to her Muslim attacker.” Now that she has escaped, instead of seeing justice done, “the Christian family is in hiding from the rapists and the police.” Earlier in Pakistan, a 2-year-old Christian girl was savagely raped and damaged for life because her father refused to convert to Islam.

    Such persecution is not merely performed at the hands of “outraged Muslim mobs,” but is institutionalized in many Muslim governments, including those deemed “U.S. friends and allies”—such as Afghanistan, where the last church was recently razed; Egypt, where Islamists, supported by the U.S., openly speak of returning Copts into second-class dhimmis; and Saudi Arabia, where churches are not permitted, and Bibles and crucifies are confiscated and destroyed.