Friday, August 14, 2015
ISIS's Satanic Verses
For over a year now since ISIS first came on the global radar screen, international news organizations have been reporting on its viciousness, from beheadings of journalists and aid workers to attacks on non-Muslim minority groups like the Yazadis and Syrian Christians. Some of the most horrendous reporting has focused on very young women who’d been captured or kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery, often to young jihadis as war brides. One of the more harrowing reports came from the Guardian almost exactly a year ago, describing the torment and despair felt by Iraqi Yazidi families who’d learned that their daughters had been sold as slaves to Islamist militants who’d just rampaged through their area.
For the past week, Khandhar Kaliph's hands have trembled whenever his phone has rung.
He nervously greeted his daughter, who had been kidnapped when the Islamic State (Isis) overran the Yazidi city of Sinjar. There was a minute of silence, before he broke down sobbing.
"She said she is going to be sold as a slave this afternoon, for $10," Kaliph said, his tears dropping into the brown dust. "What can a father say to that. How can I help? We all feel so useless."
Kaliph's daughter, who he did not want to name, had access to a group phone passed around between other girls imprisoned by the Islamic State in Bardoush prison in central Mosul.
All face the imminent prospect of being married off. Or worse, being used by the jihadis as a sex slave.
The New York Times takes the story into even more horrifying territory today with a story from the western Iraq town of Qadiya, about the religious justifications that ISIS’s clerical leadership have developed “ISIS Enshrines A Theology Of Rape” was the story’s headline.” Historically, religion has been used to justify a great deal of violence and iniquity, whether it be ancient Buddhist monks leading battles against Hindus, medieval Christian crusaders taking on the Saracens, or Jewish fundamentalists conducting “price tag” attacks against Palestinians on the West Bank. But I don’t think I’ve come across a situation where a spiritual tradition has been used to excuse or encourage pathology quite like that described here. The mix of depravity and “devotion”---the suras alternating with sexual degradation-- has an edge that is almost Satanic, an Islamic version of a Black Mass.
In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.
He 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.
“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.
The systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State in the year since the group announced it was reviving slavery as an institution. Interviews with 21 women and girls who recently escaped the Islamic State, as well as an examination of the group’s official communications, illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the group’s core tenets.
The report, filed by Rukmini Callimachi, a former West Africa reporter for the AP who was hired by the Times to report on ISIS and Al Qaeda, explains that the trade in Yazidi women and girls “has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.” Of the more than 5000 Yazidis who were kidnapped last year, 3000 are still being held. To handle them, Callimachi reports,
The Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And 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.
A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.
“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s. Like some others interviewed by The New York Times, she wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.