Sunday, October 24, 2004

Prayers for Margaret Hassan

He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him. (Proverbs 24:24)

People were praying today for Margaret Hassan, who was shown on al-Jazeera television this week pleading for her life, with her hands tied behind her back. “Please, please, I beg of you, the British people, to help me. I don’t want to die like Bigley ... Please help me. This might be my last hour."

So at churches in Dublin and Birmingham, and throughout Britain and the US, people prayed today that Margaret Hassan would not be murdered by her Muslim captors in Iraq. They prayed that we would not see a video of Margaret Hassan's head being cruelly sawed off with a knife - the fate of Daniel Pearl, Kenneth Bigley, Eugene Armstrong, Kim Sun-il, Jack Hensley, Nicholas Berg, Georgi Lazov, Ivaylo Kepov, Dalibor Lazarevski, Zoran Naskovski, Dragan Markovic, Raja Azad, Sajad Naeem, Barie Nafi'a Dawoud Ibrahim, Enzo Baldoni, Paul Johnson Jr., Ramadan Elbu, and many others, some of whose names are unknown.

Margaret Hassan is a Muslim; a dual British-Iraqi citizen who has lived in Iraq for 30 years. She is a woman, and we are told that Islam demands that women be treated with respect. She is an innocent person who works for the world's largest aid organization, facing a brutal and agonizing death at the hands of Muslims - an act which we are told would be a "perversion of Islam". And this is Ramadan, which we are told is the Islamic "month of peace".

Forgive us for not believing everything we are told. We know, for example, that Ramadan is not - and never has been - an Islamic month of peace. In 1973, Egypt launched a bloody surprise attack on Israel during Ramadan. Far from restraining their aggression, Sadat and his generals regarded Ramadan as a particularly appropriate time to unleash war on Israel, and they named their attack Operation Badr, after the historic battle fought by Mohammed in 624 - fought on the 7th day of Ramadan.

Muslims conquered Rhodes in 653, during Ramadan. Saladin was notorious for fighting during Ramadan, during which he scored his greatest victories. Civil war raged for eight years in Yemen and for seventeen years in Lebanon, with no breaks for Ramadan. When the Indian government declared a unilateral cease-fire in Kashmir for Ramadan in November 2000, as a gesture of respect for Islam, their Muslim opponents ignored it.

Enough about "peaceful" Ramadan, now and forever.

Enough about Islamic reverence for women, too. Let the pro-Muslim feminists tell that one to their sisters in Saudi Arabia. Women (including the youngest girls) are regularly beaten, raped, facially mutilated and murdered in Muslim nations, by Muslims who claim express religious sanction for their deeds. It is not unusual for a Muslim girl to be raped by one relative and then murdered by another, for the crime bringing of "dishonor" on her family. To observers of life in places like Pakistan and Iran, these events are depressingly familiar.

If Margaret Hassan lives, then, it will not be for the sake of Ramadan, or the fact that she's a woman. How about plain and simple mercy - doesn't every section of the Koran begin with "In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful"? The "Muslim insurgents" of Iraq show no spark of mercy for their captives, unless they get something in exchange for it, so presumably they are not "real" Muslims. (And yet we are told that when we oppose them, we are not just making war on Muslims, but on Islam itself.)

Shouldn't every "real" Muslim be praying for the life of Margaret Hassan, as earnestly as those Christians in Dublin are?

But there is still no mention of Margaret Hassan today at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There is no outcry from the American Muslim Council or the American Muslim Federation on behalf of Margaret Hassan. In Hamtramck, Michigan, where Muslim prayer calls sound five times a day, there are no calls to pray for Margaret Hassan.

Those of you who pray, on this day or any other, pray for the Muslim Margaret Hassan.