Monday, May 2, 2011

Did We Humiliate Osama Bin Laden?

It may have been wishful thinking, but I assumed that Osama bin Laden’s body was more or less dumped in the ocean. This seemed to be a fitting, and humiliating end for a man who deserved nothing more. (See my previous post.)

Now, other voices have entered the fray, making for a debate. American sources say that bin Laden’s remains were treated with some degree of respect, while a number of Muslim clerics and scholars have said that he was humiliated.

American authorities have provided a summary of their actions:

“The deceased's body was washed and then placed in a white sheet.

“The body was placed in a weighted bag.

“A military officer read prepared religious remarks which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker.

“After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body eased into the sea from the USS Vinson.” Link here.

To me this feels like more respect than he deserved.

On the other side of the debate, an Iraqi Muslim scholar has declared that the body was disrespected. Thus, that bin Laden was humiliated.

This is from the AP report: “’What was done by the Americans is forbidden by Islam and might provoke some Muslims,’ said another Islamic scholar from Iraq, Abdul-Sattar al-Janabi, who preaches at Baghdad's famous Abu Hanifa mosque. ‘It is not acceptable and it is almost a crime to throw the body of a Muslim man into the sea. The body of bin Laden should have been handed over to his family to look for a country or land to bury him.’"

Doesn't this sound like he is referring to a respected member of his community. One can only wonder how many people you need to murder-- most of them being Muslims, as it happens-- before you lose your standing as a respected member of the community.

Perhaps, if some of these same clerics had treated bin Laden like a pariah, he would have had more difficulty recruiting suicide bombers.

And then this: "‘The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration,’ said Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical cleric in Lebanon.” Link here.

As you would expect, radical clerics take the opportunity to issue threats against America. That is their modus operandi. They want us all to beware of the wrath of offended Muslims.

But, isn’t that the whole purpose of terrorism, to propagate their religion and to continue to practice their customs by threatening anyone who would dare declare them to be unworthy of respect.

And isn't that why so few Americans are fully aware of the horrors that are visited on citizens in Muslim countries. If they are, and if the perpetrators of these acts feel no shame, the actions will surely continue.

Last night I watched Lara Logan describe in horrifying detail how she was sexually assaulted by a crowd in Tahrir Square, Cairo. Among the most striking parts of a harrowing interview was Logan's admission that she herself had not been aware of the extent to which Egyptian men harassed women. She said nothing of the additional fact that more than 80% of Egyptian women are subjected to genital mutilation.

These facts were widely available at the time, on this blog and in many other places.

If a journalist, someone whose job it is to know these things, ignore the most basic facts about the real life of people in Egypt, doesn't that say that the media has been far too timid, even too terrorized, to show the dark side of life in some Islamic countries?


Anonymous said...

Have you seen Debbie Schlussel comments re; Lara Logan

Susan said...

Your statistic on genital mutilation ( 80% of all Egyptian women, you state ) is actually closer, I think, to that of Egyptian women who have been sexually harassed. Nearly all Egyptian females underwent a clitoridectomy (ca. 97-98%) until Suzanne Mubarek launched a campaign to stop it. Then the number is said to have slowly dropped to 91%.

And isn't it telling that one of the men in the compound where Osama bin Laden was shot tried to use a woman as a human shield to protect himself?

I don't know if we particularly humiliated or intended to humiliate OBL...I think the main idea may have been to dispose of the body in as expeditious a manner as possible. (Isn't that what the Navy does--bury its dead at sea?)

Dennis said...

From what I read Osama used his wife as a shield. Just the kind of person one would expect if true.
Just the kind of ignominious end one would wish on a coward like Osama.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks for the link to the Debbie Schussel piece. She argues that Lara Logan must have known what was going on in Egypt, but that she was covering up her own knowledge and was also refusing to mention that the perpetrators of the gang rape were Muslims.

As for the statistics on female genital mutilation, I lowered the numbers a bit because 10% of the country is Christian and I assume that women in a Christian community have not suffered the horror.

Obama's using his wife as a shield is a perfect image for a complete coward... he couldn't even die like a man.

Anonymous said...

Having seen several Navy burials at sea, I can state that the public description of OBL's ceremony, while traditional, appears to be the minimum required....and that is OK. The Navy struck that fine balance between doing what it needed to do and nothing more.

So again - Well Done to the Navy.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for the clarification?

Now, what do you think about the decision not to show the photo of the dead OBL?