Mr. and Mrs. Suicide Bomber
by Phyllis Chesler and Nancy Kobrin
Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, the sister of al-Zarqawi's right-hand man and the female half of the husband-and-wife team of suicide killers who struck in Amman last week, is now in Jordanian custody. Her final act—blowing up a Muslim wedding in progress—demonstrates clear contempt for human bonding and hope. She thereby becomes the latest in the long line of terrorists who regard everything sacred as just another target for murder.
It is important to understand that, in fighting a war on terror, we are not only waging a war between two different worlds. We are also fighting a war between the forces of life (eros) and death (thanatos). All that we hold dear, both instinctively and through religious and social training, is being specifically targeted by the jihadists.
Even the concept of motherhood is under attack. For instance, in September, in Tal Afar, Iraq, a woman was photographed holding the hand of a three year old girl. Shortly thereafter, she blew up herself and murdered several others when she became a suicide bomber. It would be difficult to find a clearer illustration of the contempt the terrorists harbor for the natural inclination, especially among women, to protect a small child. That contempt is shared by male terrorists. Anecdotal information also exists about male suicide killers who purposely position themselves next to mothers with small children before they detonate their explosives.
Whether this contempt is conscious or not is beside the point. Emerging from cultures that despise women and locate shame in female genitalia and that routinely beat girls and women or else make them the victims of honor killings, these death-dealers mock the values of the life force and the female principle. Their hatred may include motherhood as well as the socialization of men to serve as protectors of women and children.
Jordan has been trying to deal with honor killings. Perhaps that is why King Abdullah was able to condemn these jihadists as "insane." This is hardly the norm for the Middle East. In cultures that have normalized, not criminalized, such deeds, there are no such denunciations or concepts of mental health. Given the level of child and woman-abuse in so many Muslim societies, which has been further intensified within radical Islam, few individuals can create a strong sense of self. Jordan is at least making progress.
Still, the country is not immune from the Middle East's unfortunate afflictions. The tendency to scapegoat others—such as Israel, the Jews, or America—is rampant. This is one reason why many Jordanians have suggested that either Israel or the Jews were behind the latest bombing of three hotels. They say they cannot believe that a Muslim would do this to other Muslims. To their credit, however, Jordanians immediately protested the attacks on their fellow citizens. Jordanian officials meanwhile did not hesitate to identify al-Qaeda terrorists as the perpetrators.
Jordan's resolute response to the attacks is only the latest blow to the terrorists' fortunes. As the barbarities committed in the name of Islam become undeniable—we must note here the high body count caused by the "insurgency" in Iraq; under Khomeini in Iran; under the Taliban in Afghanistan; during the so-called civil wars in Algeria; and today under Arab ethnic Muslim rule in Darfur, Sudan—Zarqawi and his acolytes are driven to murderous desperation. Acting out the darkest dramas of the Middle East, they are losing the hearts and minds of the Muslim world by reducing them to bloody body-parts.
Most worryingly, the explosions in Jordan may foreshadow a twist on the simplified martyr marriage: the martyr might be even further glorified if he or she stops marriages, pregnancies, and small children in a desire to extinguish human life. As last week's attacks in Jordan so gruesomely demonstrated, that has always been and remains their goal.
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--Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Author of Infidel and Nomad
This is a bold book, intimate and rich in detail… Chesler is a voice crying out for women. She will never stop
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