A War Crime in Cairo
by Phyllis Chesler
Something is very wrong with the mainstream American media. By now, we all know that CBS did not find it newsworthy that, on February 11, 2011, their own chief foreign correspondent had been gang-raped by a mob of 200 men on the Muslim "Sabbath"—on the very day that President Mubarak stepped down. Instead, they spent four days continuing to celebrate the freedom fighters in Tahrir Square.
Only after CBS finally broke this story did other American media networks come forward with news of their own: Apparently, CNN's Anderson Cooper had also been beaten up by the brave pro-democracy freedom fighters in Tahrir Square and ABC's Brian Hartman had been threatened with beheading in that same allegedly pro-democracy uprising. Even Christian Amanpour had to be hustled away to safety by her handlers.
Clearly, the American media is so invested in its own political "narrative" (Muslims are a peace-loving people, Americans are brutal invaders and occupiers, Palestinians are the innocent injured parties, Israelis are the brutal aggressors) that they are willing to blindly sacrifice themselves and their staffs to cover events in the Arab, Muslim, and Islamist world.
Before I discuss the war crime committed against Lara Logan—a war crime very similar to those that have been committed against black girls and women by ethnic Arab Muslims in Darfur—I want to pose some harsh questions.
Why did Daniel Pearl (may he rest in peace) think that the kind of Islamists whom Al-Jazeera had normalized, even glamorized, would not kidnap and behead him? In 2002, why did Pearl, and for that matter, Nicholas Berg (may he also rest in peace), the young American entrepreneur who was also beheaded in Iraq in 2004, believe that they could "follow the yellow brick road" to The Story or to The Fortune—without becoming the story themselves? Why did they believe that American Jews could safely travel to Islamist war-zones in the 21st century? Why did three American hikers in Iraq and Iran (Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd) believe that, post-9/11, indeed, in 2010, that central Asia was a beautiful backpacking kinda place? Bauer and Fattal remain imprisoned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has accused them of "espionage." Shourd was released after fourteen months.
Here is what I am saying. Infidels (non-Muslims) and women (both Muslims and infidels) are treated this way, both now and historically. Non-Muslims, both men and women, were and still are persecuted, tortured, and murdered by Muslims; Muslim women were and still are routinely and publicly stoned or flogged to death, routinely, normatively, and widely battered and honor murdered; and routinely and publicly gang-raped.
In 2001, egged on by their imam, and also on the Muslim "Sabbath," hundreds of men in Hassi Messaoud, Algeria physically and sexually attacked (raped, gang-raped) any woman they could find. They also cut off breasts and genitalia; buried some women alive; murdered some. What crime had these women committed? According to the imam, they had been bussed in to work for a foreign company and thus were seen as both whores and traitors.
Lara Logan also worked for a foreign company. She was a blonde infidel and a woman.
But let's return to Cairo. In the fall of 2006, (at the end of Ramadan), perhaps a thousand men conducted a "sexual wilding." They surrounded individual girls and women who were fully veiled, partly veiled, and unveiled, and "groped and assaulted" them. (They probably raped and gang-raped them too but the media was too…polite to say so). Individuals tried to help these women – who escaped from the male crowds naked and half-naked. The police refused to make any arrests and the Egyptian media did not cover it. I and others only learned of this incident because some foreign journalists blogged about it – and because one brave Egyptian woman spoke about it on a live Egyptian television program.
Journalists are incredibly endangered in the Islamic world. There were more than 140 incidents of journalists being physical attacked in Egypt alone during the so-called 18-day "revolution" in Cairo. Western human rights workers have been kidnapped, held for ransom, tortured, and murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As I suggested previously, the kind of Egyptians in Tahrir Square are not pro-western, pro-modern, pro-democracy, pro-human rights activists; they are Islamist revolutionaries or, if you will, Islamists who wish to "reform" the secular state. The minority of women in the Square are wearing serious hijab and face-veils.
None other than Egyptian Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a profoundly and classically anti-Semitic preacher who has an audience of 40 million viewers on Al-Jazeera, preached today in the Square to hundreds of thousands people. Yes, he actually says things like: "Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God." He also approves of female genital mutilation and "light" beating of women. Actually, he is a…moderate. He is also a long time member of the Muslim Brotherhood and has twice turned down offers to be its leader.
According to a number of journalists and scholars who have been covering the Logan atrocity, the jeering, leering, Egyptian gang-rapists kept cursing her as a "Jew." Then again, this crowd also called Mubarak a "Zionist" and had stars of David/Jewish stars scrawled over his face on countless placards.
President Obama has demanded that the Egyptian police hunt down the gang-rapists. This is a laughable request. It will either lead to nothing—or the Muslim Brotherhood will use his demand as the excuse to murder two hundred of their political opponents—the truly secular pro-individual rights activists—and then say that they were the attackers.
President Obama: If you want to do the right thing, bring the Muslim Brotherhood and the interim military government of Egypt to the International Criminal Court in Holland.
Organized feminist groups: Bring some international lawsuits on behalf of Logan, demonstrate outside the Egyptian Embassies, revise your views of how both Muslim and infidel women are viewed and treated in the Islamic world. This barbarism is endemic to the culture, the region, and the religion, it is not caused by American or Israeli wars of "aggression." By the way, the National Organization for Women's website does not mention Logan's gang rape. While they do discuss violence against women, and oppose female genital mutilation, their focus remains largely on abortion, employment, and lesbian rights.
I am not saying that journalists should flee the field. I am not denigrating their choice to bring us the news at considerable danger to themselves. I am suggesting that they start to think realistically, clearly. One does not venture into Islamist mobs without a full platoon of Marines by your side to protect each and every journalist.
And I worry: Who will protect the Marines?
By the way: Many Islamist (and uneducated, illiterate, religious) Muslims view raped women as adulterers who should be stoned to death; or as prostitutes who should be flogged, often unto death. In 2008, a 13 year old girl in Somalia was raped by three men and then stoned to death by a crowd of 1000. In 2011, in Bangladesh a 14 year old girl was raped by her cousin, then sentenced to 100 lashes. She died after receiving 60 lashes.
Perhaps Logan got off "easy." I say this with irony, bitterness, and rage, both on her behalf and on behalf of all the Muslim and Christian women who are also raped, traumatized, shunned, dishonored, jailed, and sometimes also murdered.
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