Commentary Magazine


Islam, Women, and Children

Three disturbing news reports crossed my desk recently, which, taken together, reveal anew the hostility of radical Islam toward the rights of women and children. The first was the widely reported story of two adult, male terrorists in Baghdad who drove through a checkpoint in a car with two young children in the back seat. Because of the children, they were waved through. Once on the other side, the two men got out of the car—leaving the boys inside—ran some distance away, and hit the detonator. They children were killed, along with one bystander.

According to the Washington Times, this use of children as camouflage or cat’s-paws has become routine. Al Qaeda in Iraq uses kidnapped children to pick up dropped weapons from battlefields because they know that U.S. soldiers won’t shoot at them. (Last year there was a period when using children with Down syndrome was the fashion.) I suppose we are not surprised by this sort of barbarity anymore. But we should be: Islam is not, by history or nature, a suicide cult. It is important to consider that people willing to do this to their own flesh and blood—for pretty meager tactical payoffs in terms of enemy dead—are not people who can co-exist with civilized society.

The second piece was, if anything, grimmer still. In the Australian, a report by Martin Chulov detailed the rising tide of Palestinian women found dead in the desert outside Gaza City, hunted down and killed, putatively for the sake of the local notion of female and family honor. In one ten-day period, Chulov counted seven murders and one incident where a woman was abducted at gunpoint, dumped on the sand, and riddled with bullets in her legs.

And what is this “honor killing” about? Apparently, more than just honor. Chulov believes that young men with new clout in the political factions of the Palestinian territories are behind a large part of it. The woman who was shot in the legs, a Fatah supporter, told him that the shooter was her cousin, who is head of the Hamas executive force in northern Gaza. She claims that her cousin and his fellow would-be assassins are also members of a group called the Army of Islam, which is a Taliban-style, al Qaeda-affiliated fundamentalist Sunni organization, advocating strict shari’a law.

The third unsettling story took place much closer to home. A few weeks ago a fire swept through a house in the Bronx, killing one woman and nine children. Mayor Bloomberg spoke at the funeral, quoting from the Qu’ran, and the local African immigrant community came out to show deep sympathy for the bereft father, Moussa Magassa, an immigrant from Mali who had become a U.S. citizen.

According to a rare bit of investigative reporting in the New York Times, in the city’s show of support for Mr. Magassa, an interesting detail of his domestic arrangements was overlooked. To wit, he lived in the house with both of his wives and all of his children. And, indeed, many of his sympathetic fellow immigrants from Africa have also imported their polygamous households to the U.S.

Of course, polygamy is a crime here, and if a would-be citizen admits to it, he is deported. But there is no need to admit to it, since, the story went on to say, all of the city’s social-service providers are trained to turn a blind eye. Many men come here with only one wife, sending later for another or even a third, and helpful relatives make the arrangements, including a tourist visa.

According to women in this community, all of whom spoke to the reporter on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution or social stigma, polygamy is the underlying structure that allows for so many other African/Islamic customs that we in the West generally disapprove of, including genital mutilation, routine domestic violence, and the general status of wives as chattel. None of the women chose it. It is foisted upon them by their husbands, and they are powerless to stop the second wife from moving in. No one knows how big a problem it is here, but in France, the government has ignored the polygamous arrangements of immigrants, and now has an estimated 20,000 such marriages, encompassing 120,000 people. Very sensitive to the demands of a multicultural society, indeed. These stories present a clearer picture of how Islamic fundamentalists treat women and children than we are usually treated to. And the future they suggest for us if we fail to enforce both our laws and our secular and Judeo-Christian customs here is not much better.

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