Journalism is meant to convey an impartial view of the world. Whilst the spirit of this ideal is laudable, the application is increasingly rarely seen.
Nazi-Style Propaganda from the Time
Skimming across news reports on social media briefly, my eyes caustically jarred upon a Times article defamatorily titled “Koran encourages rape”.
Can a newspaper fall so low? Could it be that a paper will front page grand lies demonising a minority? We are talking about Muslims here, and the nihilist paper which pedals lies only to have them retracted later knows the value of the initial impact of its propaganda – and frankly dangerous propaganda at that.
The report derives from a recent New York Times (NYT) piece authored by Rukmini Callimachi titled “ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape”. Buzzfeed journalist Hussein Kesvani brought Callimachi’s attention who in turn called it a “bastardization” of her article. The title was subsequently changed by the Times to the current title: “ISIS uses Koran to justify rape”.
Whilst the change is appropriate, the NYT report itself raises some concerns.
“Reporting” or Neocon Pro-War Spin-doctoring?
The Times – a paper which has columnists like its former editor Daniel Finkelstein (a neocon with links to the far-right, hate preacher Douglas Murray and neocon Michael Gove) and the pro-war neocon Oliver Kamm, tellingly took the NYT piece and promoted it with a slanderous title. This would only occur if content fitted he objectives of their warped world view. With regards to the article itself, the sudden human rights concern is mixed in with a cultural attack on Islam, however one example to achieve this could not have been more dubious.
We are often led to believe by ISIS and neocons hell-bent on foisting their cultural war on the world, that Islam is being practised there. One of the most basic precepts of Islamic hygiene laws is that it is forbidden to pray in a state of major ritual impurity, with intercourse placing one into such a state. This is common knowledge amongst Muslims. According to the article the ISIS fighter,
“…bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her. When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.”
Now, either the ISIS fighter is ignorant (and there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that such individuals possess rudimentary knowledge of Islam, although the rules around ritual purity is so basic it is unfathomable that the person would be ignorant of these rules), or, the report is inaccurate/falsified – a possibility which not entirely implausible.
What makes the report more questionable is its subtle neocon-style of attack peppered in and around the report. For instance, an assertion is made that the practice has become an “established recruiting tool” to lure men from “deeply conservative Muslim societies” where “casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden”. Buried in such an assertion is an unsubstantiated stereotypical assumption that “conservative” or rather, Muslims who choose to practice their faith, are somewhat sex-starved because they cannot engage in casual sex or date.
The report draws on the laughably designated “scholar of Islamic theology”, Cole Bunzel, whose expertise on “Islamic theology” seems to be derived from his research on the “Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia” and whose claim to fame is a research paper on ISIS. The Washington Post noted that whilst US warring helped create ISIS, and that his paper argues that “ultimately regional Sunni powers should lead”, Bunzel also advocates war:
“Bunzel himself suggests that the total military destruction of the Islamic State’s structure and its charismatic leader would cripple the caliphate.”
This of course, is not surprising given the fact that the Brookings Institute, whilst ostensibly “left” leaning houses the notorious neoconservative, Robert Kagan. He is the founder of the Project for the New American Century, an infamous think-tank which acted as the hub for neocons who then went onto formulate an imperialist foreign policy which materialised the Iraq war. Among Kagan’s colourful views is the belief that (American) power “employed under a double standard, may be the means of human progress – and perhaps the only means”.
The report also uses translations by the Middle East Media Research Institute, more commonly known as MEMRI. MEMRI was founded in February 1998 by Israeli intelligence officers including Colonel Yigal Carmon. Its sinister motives were revealed in 2004 when renowned academic and historian Professor Juan Cole was intimidated by Carmon for exposing MEMRI’s reality. Professor Cole responded with a re-affirmation that the organisation “operated as a PR campaign for Likud Party goals”. He further stated,
“I continue to maintain that MEMRI is selective and biased against the Arab press, and that it highlights pieces that cast Arabs, especially committed Muslims, in a negative light… On more than one occasion I have seen, say, a bigoted Arabic article translated by MEMRI and when I went to the source on the Web, found that it was on the same op-ed page with other, moderate articles arguing for tolerance. These latter were not translated.”
Members of the board of advisors include Iraq war architect and torture-justifier Donald Rumsfeld, Ehud Barak, warmonger and veteran neocon Norman Podhoretz, pro-Israel, pro-torture Alan Dershowitz, and former director of the NSA and CIA, Michael Hayden.
Where there are neocons…
Propaganda serves a purpose. And what is the purpose here? Why are we suddenly so concerned that a major paper front-pages a story about rape and Yazidis? Rape is often used in war. The secular President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been using rape as a weapon of war against women and children for quite some time. US forces set the standard with soldiers raping and sexually torturing as a “systematic policy” – including sickeningly recording the sodomisation of boys in front of their mothers as they shrieked in pain. Due to the American invasion of Iraq, Iraqi women have been prostituting themselves in order to feed their children. Today, in Baghdad, the prostitution industry is thriving. According to one relatively recent report, Iraqi women and girls, the youngest of whom was only 11 years old, were forced to have sex with men from Yemen, America, and the Gulf states. This is sexual slavery born from “democratic secularism” of the kind which is rarely covered and which the neocons will not go to war for against their installed banana republic.
What neocons and complicit media will also whitewash and ignore is the presence of rape in the Zionist context. Two years ago, it was reported that an IDF colonel-rabbi implied that raping of gentile women is permitted in war. This would perhaps explain why rape of Palestinian women was used as a military tactic by Jews during the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. During the height of the Gaza massacre last year, Middle East scholar Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University in Israel suggested raping Palestinian mothers and sisters as a solution to Hamas’s armed resistance.
Dr Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, professor of law at the Hebrew University and a writer on military violence against women in conflict zones, says that sexual violence is still prevalent, from the way settlers assault Palestinian women, to how Israeli checkpoints and the occupation control pregnant women’s access to hospitals. “The inscription of power over Palestinian women’s bodies is always there.”
I don’t expect a headline from the Times declaring “the Torah urges rape” any time soon.
There is War…
The repulsive crime of rape induces strong emotion. Neocons play emotion; indeed leading neocons believe rationality should be set aside in favour of emotion. This suits neocons because emotion often leads to a degree of irrationality and psychological malleability – perfect for neocons to step in and “guide”. The level of sensationalism and spine-tingling detail published about ISIS has been particularly unique and timely. That the US military hawks are currently pining for increased military attacks, whilst Obama is considering adding more bases and troops in Iraq exceeds coincidence when associated neocon-linked organisations begin propping articles. Britain too has already dog-whistled hawks in government about committing itself to more war: the very act which gave rise to the circumstances in which Yazidis are now allegedly bearing the horrific brunt of war.
The neocons raped the Middle East and now rape is being used as a weapon of war across the Middle East. Neocons once again are planning more war. In all this, the revolting political exploitation of the case of Yazidis is missed: conveniently remembered and forgotten as and when neocon objective need to be served and fulfilled.
The frank and stark reality of ISIS is that it continually contributes to the tarnishing of the prestige of Islam, much to the radiant glee of neocon propagandists. The claim that the Qur’an encourages slavery is an outrageous lie and betrays Islamic history. Certainly, in an era in which it was internationally entrenched and customary, Islam sought to place reigns and restrictions on the practice, and was markedly different to the concept of slavery envisaged in the West. Titus Burckhardt wrote that,
“Slavery within the Islamic culture is not to be conused with Roman slavery or with the American variety of the ninetheenth century; in Islam the slave was never a mere “thing”. If his master treated him badly, he could appeal to a judge and procure his freedom…”
The only avenue through which slavery was permitted was via the rigorous rules of a legitimate Jihad, and even then it was at the Caliph’s discretion whether prisoners of war should be enslaved or freed. In stark contrast the Atlantic slave trade was used to prop the economies of Europe, thus entrenching the practice as opposed to extinguishing it through a meticulous method which ensured a cultural shift. The aspect of cultural shift is important: whilst the black people were “freed”, in the US in particular, the master-slave mentality remained in the form of white supremacy in the southern states; the Jim Crow Laws are a legacy of the not too distance, post-slavery past. It is this post-slavery period which gave rise to freedom fighters like Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who struggled for civil liberties – a struggle which continues to this day as evidenced from frequent reports of unarmed black people being shot on the streets by a structurally racist police.
The highlighting of “sexual slavery” is interesting as is the superior cultural and moral standing presumed in this attack. The way in which readers have lauded the NYT article reminds me of psychological projection: the defence of humans against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. Sexual slavery is an issue which still blights the West today. Western Europe, for instance, serves as a clientele base for sexual slavery. Siddharth Kara, a lecturer on human trafficking at Harvard University, writes,
“Of all the regions I explored, none was more complex than Europe… the proximity of poor Europe to rich Europe and the ease of travel to almost any country in the European Union made the movement of sex slaves throughout Europe a high frequency operation almost impossible to thwart.”
Indeed it can be argued that the West is not sanctioning this. Neither, however, are Muslims who have globally rejected ISIS, and effectively bound themselves to international treaties prohibiting human trafficking. Applying here the culturalist attack launched by neocons, which posits the blame on Islam, one can equally argue that the greed of capitalism and laissez-faire, libertine liberalism “encourage” this modern sexual slavery. In the richer European nations, sexual slavery is found in massage parlours, apartments, hotels, clubs and brothels. Kara further highlights that,
“Several slaves I met were first exploited in club brothels before being moved to hotels or street prostitution. Most of the clubs looked exactly the same as any normal club, with bouncers at the front door, and music, dancing, alcohol and drugs inside. Other clubs were unflinching in their debauchery, such as a sex club I visited in Chisinau, Moldova that was filled with men from several countries engaging in depravities with drugged young girls. Many were barely pubescent.”
This liberal/capitalist culture beneath the veneer of freedom “encourages” people to dig deep in their carnal desires, eventually thrusting society to ever more adventurous interpretations of their freedom (or feminism for that matter) which are necessary to justify paid derivation of sexual pleasure from women.
Islam spiritually cultivated the importance of freeing slaves as an aspect of “religious devotion”, to borrow the New York Times article’s words, by already placing slaves in terms of their rights close to free members, and fostering a spiritual atmosphere of freeing slaves to the point that Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) would actively purchase slaves to free them, Bilal Ibn Rabbah (may Allah be pleased with him) being a foremost example. Not only was he purchased with the specific purpose of freeing him, he was placed atop the most venerated place of worship in Islam, the Kaba, from where he made the call to prayer. Islam further aided the emancipation through material assistance of slaves by allowing them to purchase their freedom with money given to them through Zakaat (mandatory alms paid by Muslims).
Hadiths also point to a similitude to family members, ordering Muslims to take care of slaves as brothers. Contrary to what the bigoted Times would have one believe, the Qur’an, accepting the reality of slavery when revealed, encourages the marrying off of slaves (male and female), and upholds manumission as a moral ideal. As reported by the cousin of the Prophet peace be upon him, Ali, (may Allah be pleased with him), among the final words utter by the Prophet peace be upon him were the following:
“Take care of prayer; take care of prayer and keep your duty to Allah regarding slaves under your command.”
The numerous reasons founded in replete Islamic texts “encourage” freeing slaves (from expiation of sins to punishment for slapping a slave, to the right of the slave to buy himself out), as opposed to reinstituting slavery.
The claim that the Qur’an “encourages” slavery – regardless of how ISIS purportedly propounds its twisted claims or neocons lead one to believe – is factually incorrect. It is a Nazi-esque lie pushed by a neocon paper and predicated upon the continued demonization of the Muslim minority.
 Burckhardt, T. Moorish Culture in Spain, Translated by Alisa Jaffa, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1972. P.30
 See Morgan, K., Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy, 1660-1800, University Press: Cambridge, 2000
 Kara, S., Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, Columbia University Press: Chichester, 2010, p.11
 Ibid. p.12
 The Prophet peace be upon him said, “Your slaves are your brothers, and Allah has put them under your control. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats, and dress him of what he wears. Do not overburden them to do things beyond their capacity, and if you do so, then help them.” (Bukhari)
 Al-Qur;an, Surah Al-Nur: 32
 Al-Qur’an, Surah Al-Balad: 12-13.
 Sunan Ibn Majah