In memory of our sister, Abeer al-Janabi…
1996: Three US Servicemen were convicted of raping a 12-year Japanese girl. On the trial's opening day, Gill (one of the servicemen) said that he raped the girl, while Ledet and Harp (the other two servicemen) said they had been bullied by Gill into abducting the girl and that they did not participate in the rape itself. While passing sentence, Chief Judge Shinei Nagamine said Ledet received a lighter sentence because he did not actually have intercourse with the girl. “He tried to have sexual intercourse but was unable to because he realized she was so young,” Nagamine said.
The Punishment: 7 years imprisonment for each in Japanese jails. According to the article, the “sentence was lighter than expected”.
Fast-forward to 2002: Daniel Pearl, a journalist for WSJ was kidnapped and brutally murdered by extremists in Karachi, Pakistan. Videos of the beheading flashed around the world and Islamophobes ranted and raved about how this proved Islam promoted terrorism. Following Pearl's tragic death, the Daniel Pearl Foundation was created in 2002, three books were published, various articles were written in all the major newspapers, HBO produced a movie “The Journalist and the Jihadi“, and about 2 months ago, a movie “A Mighty Heart” was released. And I add that Pearl deserved no less.
The Punishment: Four men were charged in Pearl's death. Three were given life imprisonment and one was given the death sentence.
Fast-forward to 2006: In March, four of our nation's soldiers gang-raped and murdered a 14-year girl named Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, after murdering her mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 34; her father Qasim Hamza Raheem, 45; and her sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza, aged 5. According to the military, PFC Steve Green, SGT Paul E. Cortez, SPC James P. Barker, PFC Jesse V. Spielman and PFC Bryan L. Howard planned the girl's rape. PFC Howard was told to monitor a radio as the others entered the victims' house nearby. The affidavit states that Green ordered the father, mother and younger daughter into a bedroom. Shots were fired, after which Green emerged and reportedly said, “I just killed them, all are dead.” Green and at least one other individual proceeded to sexually assault Abeer Qassim Hamza, after which Green fired two or three shots into her head, killing her.
Abeer's mother, Fakhariya, was reportedly worried that her daughter had attracted the attention of U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint near their home. She asked her neighbor, Omar Janabi, if Abeer could sleep in his daughter's room. Janabi agreed, but it proved to be an ineffective deterrent as the attack took place in broad daylight the day after.
Based on reports, after the rape the lower part of Abeer's body, from her stomach down to her feet, was set on fire. The fire eventually spread to the rest of the room and the smoke alerted neighbors who ran to tell Abu Firas Janabi, Abeer's uncle, that the farmhouse was on fire and that dead bodies could be seen inside the burning building. Janabi and his wife rushed to the farmhouse and doused some of the flames to get inside. Upon witnessing the scene inside, Janabi went to a checkpoint guarded by Iraqi soldiers to report the crime.
- In February, Sergeant Paul Cortez was sentenced to 90 years in prison.
- Last November, Specialist James Barker was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
- A few days ago, Private Jesse Spielman was sentenced to 110 years in prison. (See here and here)
- Also, Private Bryan Howard, who served as a lookout, was sentenced to 27 months in jail for acting as an accessory and helping to obstruct justice.
- The last soldier is yet to be sentenced but don't hold your breath for anything much worse.
While the papers and news tickers are screaming “Soldier sentenced to 100 years in prison”, the truth in fact is that all three could be free on parole in only 10 years!
Consider for a minute the circumstances of this brutal rape and murder. Think about the savagery and animal-like behavior of the perpetrators.
Compare it to to the “light” sentence for the rape of the 12-year old Japanese girl, who is still ALIVE. Or compare it to the beheading of Pearl and the punishments meted out by the “terrorist safe-haven”, “uncouth” nation of Pakistan. Or compare it with Ali Timimi was handed a life sentence WITHOUT the possibility of parole. Or compare it with the witch-hunt of Dr. Sami al-Arian. Or compare it with our brother Sabri BenKahla was tried twice and finally 'found' guilty, receiving 10 years without parole. Note what the article on Sabri states, “Under normal sentencing guidelines, Sabri Benkahla would have received at most a three-year term for his convictions this year on charges of lying to a grand jury, obstruction of justice and making a false statement.But for the first time, prosecutors were able to obtain a stiffer sentence by arguing that Benkahla's lies effectively promoted terrorism by obstructing a wide-ranging terror investigation.”
Compare it with all it above, and then tell me, doesn't the light punishments for the four soldiers deserve human outrage? Not just Muslims, but especially Muslims. How can it be that a rape of a 12-year old Japanese girl justified what was called a 'light' sentence of 7 years in Japanese prisons, how can it be that Sabri receives 10 years for just LYING, while the gang-rape, murder of this 14-year old Iraqi girl and the murder of her father, her mother, and her 5-year old sister wasn't enough to justify a life-sentence at the least, let alone the death penalty? Each of these soldiers gets JUST TEN YEARS? How will we justify this light treatment of the heinous crime of our “civilized” soldiers to the rest of the world, especially to the Iraqis? What a farce! What Injustice!
Imagine if 5 Muslim men, even 5 non-Muslim men (though the “Muslim” effect would have been worse) had conspired and carried out what they did in Iraq right here in America? Do you think we would be reading this about the murderer's relative: “Spielman's grandmother, Nancy Hess, collapsed outside the courtroom after the verdict was read; Fischbach ran to her side and called 911. Soldiers in Spielman's unit fanned the woman with napkins.” What would the headlines be blasting? Would there be any punishment less than the death penalty meted out (and might I add justifiably)?
Where are the news reports about the relatives of Abeer, the VICTIM? Why is it that I had to search really hard and come up with the following from a UK newspaper (nothing in US papers that I could find):
The murdered girl's surviving family said today they were disappointed that Spielman did not receive the death penalty. The crime outraged Iraqis and significantly increased tensions with American forces in Iraq.
“We were expecting the death penalty against those criminals and the place to carry out the sentence is where the incident happened,” Janabiat's cousin, Abu Ammar, told Reuters. Her uncle, Hadi Abdullah, said the family wished the sentence could be appealed so that the death penalty could be imposed for all those responsible.
And this is only one incident that was “caught”… Read this report on The Nation and consider just this one quote from a soldier, “I just brought terror to someone else under the American flag, and that's just not what I joined the Army to do”
Some might say that the media's collusion with the government's propaganda, its whitewash of certain events and the sensationalism of other events is as clear as the sun during a cloudless day. Others might insist that it is the government that is severely restricting access to the events in Iraq and other military zones in order to minimize the “public relations” collateral damage. Both arguments have merit.
But what about our Muslim bloggers (with few exceptions such as this)? While we take out time to blast the terrorism in the name of Islam (and rightfully so), while we call out the “lunatics” amongst us, why do we not find it worthwhile to sound off about the injustice committed to one of our sisters and her family? Or even the recent massacre at the Red Mosque? Would we be as quiet if Abeer was our own blood relative? What are we afraid of? Remember, we are not calling out for armed militancy, we are not calling out for terrorism, all we are calling out for is JUSTICE. We are still in the land of “free speech”, aren't we? Why aren't we asking for the same standards to be applied to Muslims as they applied to others… not special treatment, merely FAIR treatment.
Inna lillahi wa innah alehi raajioon.