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Pearl, Okinawa Rape… Murder & Rape of Teen Iraqi Girl, Abeer al-Janabi

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”.

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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.

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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.

I had written a little piece about this on my old blog (graphic content, not suitable for children) and there is more here.

The Punishment:

  • 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”

——————
Conclusion:
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.

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Muslim

    August 6, 2007 at 10:57 AM

    Wow, thanks for pointing out that the US gov’t is unjust.

  2. Avatar

    Dawud

    August 6, 2007 at 11:09 AM

    As salaam aleikum!

    Blarb, I’m still new to the Muslim blogger community so I want to know—what can we possibly do ?

    I’m cynical on this–so please enlighten me!

  3. Avatar

    ruth nasrullah

    August 6, 2007 at 11:14 AM

    Walaikum asalaam, Dawud.

    On Jinnzaman’s web site – http://jinnzaman.hadithuna.com/abeer-hamza-memorial/ – he has information about memorials that are being scheduled around the world.

  4. Avatar

    Bismillah

    August 6, 2007 at 11:23 AM

    as salamu alaykum wa rahmatuAllahi wa barakatahu,

    inna lilahi wa inna elayhi rajeeon..

    SICK subhanAllah .. how do we act when we hear these things?? this is not only the murder… and MUTILATION…and before that [authobillah] RAPE of a YOUNG MUSLIM GIRL.

    what do we do?? how do we act? where is our outrage chanelled into constructive measures…? and here i guess is my real question: what are those constructive measures we need to take?

    Ustadh, may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward you. If you ever have time to address these questions I would seriously appreciate it… we hear of these things so sadly more than one time… what do we DO?!

  5. Avatar

    Abu Musáb

    August 6, 2007 at 11:46 AM

    If I didn’t believe in the concept of Aakhirah, I’d go insane reading this.

    To believe that there is true justice in our times is to believe that Santa Claus truly exists.

    May Allah accept Abeer and her family as martyrs.

    May Allah curse and punish the forces of taghoot and gather its leaders together with Fir’awn in hell fire.

    Ameen!

  6. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    August 6, 2007 at 12:21 PM

    Salaam aliakum

    I strongly encourage everyone to read the report in The Nation (linked above). One of the co-authors is Dr. al-Arian’s daughter. It’s long, so make sure you have some time to spare, but I assure you once you start you won’t be able to stop.

    Incidents such as these should galvanize us and motivate us to speak out at the double standards employed, by the corporate media and political elites. Educate your friends and co-workers, express to them how you feel, and why you feel this way. Write letters to your local newspapers. The anti-war movement is gaining strength, and we all need to do our part, even if it seems that what we are doing is trivial. Remember that only a few decades ago, this same country had to pack its bags and basically declare defeat in Vietnam merely because the population rose up in protest and refused to support their government in what they viewed as an unjust and evil war. Many Americans, including us, view this war in a similar way – surely we can try to cause a difference?

    And remember that there are plenty of untold stories as well. Here is yet one more victim, probably classified as ‘collateral damage’ by our forces.
    http://www.hishamstory.4t.com
    (excuse the poor English – its obviously written by Iraqi relatives of the boy).

    All of these incidents are tragic. They move our souls and fill us with varying emotions of despair, anger, and, yes, vengeance. Yet, throughout all this, we need to keep our faith in Allah firm, and realize that He will give the righteous their due and the impious theirs. It is not our right to take the law into our own hands. For those who listened to my talk on the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah that I have given in more than one place recently, it is incidents such as these that are ‘our’ equivalents of Abu Jandal and Abu Baseer. Sometimes, all we can do is verbalize our anger and educate others about the reality of the situation, and then make du’aa to Allah to help those who have been wronged, wherever they might be.

    Wa Allahu al-Musta`an wa alayhi al-tuklaan…

    Yasir

  7. Avatar

    MR

    August 6, 2007 at 12:30 PM

    :( SubhanAllah

  8. Pingback: To My Little Sister « iMuslim

  9. Amad

    Amad

    August 6, 2007 at 3:28 PM

    ASA, Sh YQ, for those who have not heard your lecture… can you summarize in a few lines what Abu Jandal and Abu Baseer refers to?

  10. Avatar

    Abu Abdurrahman

    August 6, 2007 at 4:53 PM

    Even better, why not have a summary and ALSO stick the talk up on MM?

  11. Avatar

    jinnzaman

    August 6, 2007 at 8:35 PM

    assalamu alaikum

    May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) bring tranquility and justice to our sister Abeer and to the rest of the Ummah and bestow upon humanity the light of guidance. Ameen.

    Its still not too late to organize a vigil in your area. If you are interested, contact abeermemorial@yahoo.com or visit the website abeermemorial.blogspot.com to find out where the vigils in your area are happening.

    May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) reward the brothers and sisters at Muslim matters for spreading the word about the vigils. Ameen.

    Let us become one Ummah and move as a single formation and set aside our differences for the cause of the preservation of the rights of the people and the establishment of Islam, inshaAllah.

    masalama

  12. Avatar

    your bro

    August 6, 2007 at 9:10 PM

    # Treaty of Hudaibiyyah (2 parts) – by Yasir Qadhi
    Part 1

    Part 2

  13. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    August 6, 2007 at 11:31 PM

    jazakallahu khayr yourbro for the links, but the lecture he is giving now is modified a bit to incorporate parallels to what is going on now. insha’Allah if we can get a recording we’ll try to post it.

  14. Avatar

    your bro

    August 7, 2007 at 12:13 AM

    how can I enable html on my posts? How were you able to add hyperlink to the text? jzk.

  15. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    August 7, 2007 at 12:38 AM

    html is already enabled, if you know html code just type it into your post and it should post appropriately

  16. Avatar

    khawla hurayrah

    August 7, 2007 at 11:59 AM

    Assalamu’alaikum
    It brought tears reading this post. May Allah have mercy on Abeer and her family that died with her.
    To remind myself and others, remember the hadith that talks about this world being only prison for the believers and paradise for the non believers. I do not envy their sentencing being lighter in this world because….

    Allah is Wise and Just, and on the Day of Judgement, justice will be done to all.

    May Allah make it easy on all believers to be steadfast in this Deen and save us from the fire. Ameen

  17. Avatar

    Faraz

    August 7, 2007 at 2:13 PM

    But what about our Muslim bloggers?
    Here is my piece on the topic, written back in July.

  18. Amad

    Amad

    August 7, 2007 at 2:27 PM

    Jak Faraz… I have added it to the list… if I missed more entries, pls post them here, and I’ll add them. wasalam.

  19. Avatar

    Sister Basmah

    August 8, 2007 at 2:14 AM

    SubhanAllah. May Allah grant Abeer and her family Jannat-ul-Firdows and forgiveness for all of their sins.

  20. Avatar

    Din

    August 8, 2007 at 8:25 AM

    Good article..in general..but 1 question:

    What do you mean when you say ” And I add that Pearl deserved no less.”?

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  24. Avatar

    Din

    August 9, 2007 at 7:47 PM

    ?

  25. Amad

    Amad

    August 9, 2007 at 8:05 PM

    I mean that Pearl deserved no less than what he got in terms of all the tributes, the movie and other stuff in his honor…. That was an important clarification… so it may not be misconstrued in a completely opposite sense.

  26. Avatar

    Din

    August 9, 2007 at 10:59 PM

    oh okay…:-)…

    ( pehaps edit your original text a bit to reflect what you meant as well…I almost misred it!)…

    Jazakallah khair for your response..

  27. Pingback: Remembering my dear sister Abeer Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi at Indian Muslims

  28. Avatar

    Te

    September 3, 2007 at 4:06 AM

    Great web site. Very interesting. I am a humanitarian who takes pleasure in the sharing of information and experiences.

    With that all being said, please forgive this one innocent question:

    In regards to the service members involved in the Okinawa rape case, are you saying the punishment was light, or not severe enough? I just want to make sure the right message is being sent. In my humble opinion, ALL rapists mentioned above (this includes accomplices) should at least be castrated.

    Also, I have dealt with US military prisons. It is highly unlikely that service members guilty of heinous war crimes will have 100 year sentences reduced to 10. Especialy those involved with the execution of a family and rape of a child.

    The 7 year confinement for the rape of the 12 year-old Okinawan girl was awarded in Japanese courts. Though U.S. prison systems are lenient, I can assure you that the military court system would have been much harsher. I have personally seen service members get twice that for much less.

    A point of interest:
    I can not find proof that those involved with the Okinawan rape were registered in the states as sex offenders. The animal that planned that attack is now dead. He went back to the states, raped a woman, killed her, then killed himself. There is something terribly wrong if assaults on foreign victims are not considered offenses worth registering.

    As said before, I like sharing information and experiences. Let me know if I’m wrong. I will not hesitate to revisit my research.

    God bless.

  29. Amad

    Amad

    September 3, 2007 at 4:29 PM

    Hello Te.
    thank you for your comments.

    Yes, I believe the punishment was definitely too easy. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of the sentencing issues, but it would seem that with good behavior, the soldiers would be able to get out on parole. So their fate in 10 years seems to be in their control… When I posted this on dailykos, someone mentioned that we could write to the prison warden and petition him/her not to allow the parole or something to that effect. Again, i would need some education on that.

    thanks

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#Current Affairs

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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#Current Affairs

Confronting Internalized Islamophobia

internalized Islamophobia

Last semester, I was teaching Roxane Gay’s essay “Peculiar Benefits” to a class of college freshmen. Following Gay’s lead, I asked my students to reflect critically on their own lives, on when they benefited from certain forms of privilege and when they didn’t. Unsurprisingly, my students pointed out many intelligent things, such as how English-language skills and physical ability are often unacknowledged as forms of privilege. What surprised me was what all the Muslim students listed not as a privilege but as a source of marginalization: being Muslim.

My students are on to something. Being  Muslim American today means dealing with a president who recently expanded his travel ban to six new countries, all of which have sizable Muslim populations. Being Muslim American today means worrying if your own house of worship will be attacked by a white supremacist, as happened in New Zealand, and in states across America. Being Muslim American means belonging to a faith community that, according to the research, endures the highest levels of religious discrimination in the country today.

In other words, being Muslim means confronting an Islamophobia that is real, that is part of American government policy, and that can even be deadly. With this sober reality, you might assume that American Muslims  would be unified in collective opposition to the dangerous bigotry that is Islamophobia.

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New research, however, puts this notion into question. According to a study by the Institute for Social and Political Understanding (ISPU), a research organization that studies American Muslims in depth, Muslim Americans can themselves be Islamophobic.

The findings are as interesting as they are unexpected. Over the last two years, the ISPU and Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative have used a measure tracking anti-Muslim sentiment that they developed. Called the “Islamophobia Index,” the measure is based on answers to specific survey questions regarding Muslims and their assumed behaviors.

Over the last two annual polls conducted by ISPU, the findings reveal that white Evangelicals hold the most Islamophobic attitudes of any faith group while Jews are among the lowest. In the 2019 study, only Muslims were less Islamophobic than Jews, but some Muslims still endorsed Islamophobic sentiments.

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Where does this internalized Islamophobia come from?

Some of it seems to be internalized shame. Muslims are the most likely faith community to “strongly agree” (44%) with the following statement: “When I hear that a member of my faith community committed an act of violence, I feel personally ashamed.” This compares to roughly a third of Jews (34%), Catholics (34%), Protestants (35%), and white Evangelicals (33%).

But that’s not all. Through crunching the numbers, the ISPU determined who’s more at risk in holding Islamophobic attitudes and what could protect someone from believing Islamophobic ideas. The least likely Muslims to hold Islamophobic views tend to be Democrats, thirty years-of-age or older, and self-identifying as Arab or Asian. Risk factors, meanwhile, include being between 18 and 29 years old, having experienced gender discrimination, either from within the Muslim community or from outside the Muslim community, and having experienced sectarian discrimination from within the Muslim community.

The least likely Muslims to hold Islamophobic views tend to be Democrats, thirty years-of-age or older, and self-identifying as Arab or Asian.Click To Tweet

What does all this mean? A fully formed picture may have to wait until a qualitative study puts some flesh onto these numbers, but it’s not difficult to see where the research is heading. It seems statistically likely that both gender discrimination and sectarian discrimination are pushing some young American Muslims into internalizing Islamophobia. According to ISPU’s 2019 Annual Poll, “as many as 41% of Muslim women experience gender discrimination at the hands of other Muslims at some frequency.” We should also note that sectarian discrimination with the American Muslim community has a racial dimension. The ISPU study identifies Black Muslims reporting much higher levels of sectarian discrimination (43% report it) than Arab Muslims (at 26%).

What does this mean for the community?

It’s time to state this plainly. We Muslim Americans simply must get our own house in order if we want to vanquish Islamophobia. Sexism and sectarianism have no place in the Muslim-American community. While outside factors such as negative media portrayals of Muslims certainly play a role in normalizing and promoting Islamophobic ideas, it’s also true—as this latest study makes clear—that Muslims who have personally experienced discrimination from other Muslims are the ones more likely to internalize Islamophobia.

And internalized Islamophobia, like all Islamophobia, is disastrous for everyone. People who score high on the Islamophobia index, Muslim or not, are also more likely to support discriminatory policies (such as the Muslim ban and the surveillance of mosques), curtailing civil liberties, and even the military targeting of civilians. On the other hand, those with the lowest levels of Islamophobia also exhibit high regard for African Americans, Jewish Americans, and LGBTQ Americans, proving that Islamophobia is but one part of how racism and discrimination work in this country.

Faith as a source of happiness

While internalized Islamophobia is real, it is also true that most Muslim women (87%) and Muslim men (84%) report seeing “their faith identity as a source of happiness in their life.” All the more reason why the onus of defeating internalized Islamophobia is on no one but us Muslims.

After all, as every Muslim reads in the Qur’an, “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (13:11). Stopping internalized Islamophobia is also a necessary step to defeating all Islamophobia. And when that day comes, I suspect my Muslim students will consider their faith not as a stigma of difference but as a source of profound pride.

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#Current Affairs

A Warrior Against Genocide, Abubacarr Tambadou | Imam Omar Suleiman

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Attorney General Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, the Justice Minister of the Gambia and Imam Omar Suleiman at Honor Our Heroes in Washington DC. Imam Omar presented the Torch of Justice Award on behalf of Justice For All’s Burma Task Force and the American Muslim community to the Justice Minister for fighting genocide.

 I have been working on stopping this genocide in my role as the Director of Justice For All and the part Attorney General Tambadou has played in taking this evil regime to the world’s highest court on behalf of the Rohingya is the kind of leadership and courage we need to see on the global stage.

Here are Shaykh Omar’s remarks. – Hena Zuberi, EIC

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I would like to begin this presentation to His Excellency Abou Bakr Tambadou by reminding all of us of the greatest man to walk the face of the earth after the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Bakr As Siddique.

It was narrated that Qais bin Abu Hazim said:

قَالَ قَامَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّكُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ ‏{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ}‏ وَإِنَّا سَمِعْنَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ إِنَّ النَّاسَ إِذَا رَأَوُا الْمُنْكَرَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُونَهُ أَوْشَكَ أَنْ يَعُمَّهُمُ اللَّهُ بِعِقَابِهِ ‏”‏ ‏

Abu Bakr stood up and praised and glorified Allah, then he said: ‘O people, you recite this Verse – “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the (right) guidance no hurt can come to you from those who are in error.”[5:105] – but I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: ‘If people see some evil but do not change it, soon Allah will send His punishment upon them all.’” 

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When Abubaccar Tambadou made his way from Gambia in West Africa, to the Rohingya refugee camps in Southeast Asia, he knew he couldn’t turn away from the evil he had witnessed.“

Listening to survivors’ stories he said the “stench of genocide” began drifting across the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar.

He said: “I realized how much more serious it was than the flashes we’d seen on television screens, Military and civilians would organize systematic attacks against Rohingya, burn down houses, snatch babies from their mothers’ arms and throw them alive into burning fires, round up and execute men; girls were gang-raped and put through all types of sexual violence.”

“It sounded very much like the kind of acts that were perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”

In that genocide, up to a 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed with machetes and rifles, about 70% of the country’s Tutsi population. Sexual violence was rife, with up to 500,000 women being raped. 

At that time, His Excellency Abubaccar Tambadou worked as a trial attorney, where he was responsible for prosecuting violations of international human rights law in Rwanda. He secured the prosecution of four war criminals, including former Rwandan army general Augustin Bizimungu who called his victims cockroaches. 

Here Abubaccar was now, a decade later, witnessing the Rohingya genocide. More than 128,000 Muslims remain in detention camps in Burma today, where they have been confined since 2012, arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military campaign of ethnic cleansing began in August 2017

Their villages have been burned down, their bodies discarded like waste, and the world has remained unwilling and unable to support them in their plight.

Simon Adams, head of the humans rights organization, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said there was only one man with the courage, skills and humanity to try to hold Myanmar accountable for the alleged atrocities.

“Some were afraid of retaliation from the Chinese” (who tried to stop the prosecution of Myanmar knowing that it may set a precedent for them being taken to court for their Uyghur  concentration camps).

Simon Adams continued to say, “Others said it wasn’t a good time, was too politically risky. [But] I was impressed by his fearlessness. He realized what would be coming pressure-wise but he was developing a strategy to deal with it.”

Abubacarr Tambadou

What is a hero?

Is it “an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles? Is it “someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom? Is it someone who uses their power responsibly to support the powerless? Is it the man of resilience who is braver for 5 more minutes than his fellow man?

To us, a hero is one who recognizes the truth when others deny it, lives by it when others abandon it, pursues it when others obstruct it, and upholds it when others oppose it.

Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was a hero because he not only refused to let falsehood stand in the way of his recognition of the truth when it was manifest to him, but also refused to let fear stand in the way of his pursuit of that truth when it challenged him. 

Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) ran to the defense of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he was being persecuted for his beliefs and shouted: 

أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّهُ

Would you kill a man for saying his Lord is Allah?

Abubaccar Tambadou rushed to the support of the millions being persecuted for saying their Lord is Allah.

Abu Bakr As Siddique said: 

لا يحقرن أحد أحدا من المسلمين فان صغير المسلمين عند الله كبير

Do not belittle any of the Muslims, for even the lowest of the Muslims is great in the sight of Allah.

Abubaccar Tambadou refused to belittle those brothers and sisters who had been deemed too insignificant by even the wealthiest Muslim nations to uplift

Abu Bakr As Siddique raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: 

الضعيف فيكم قوي عندي حتى أريح عليه حقه إن شاء الله والقوى فيكم عندي ضعيف حتى آخذ الحق منه إن شاء الله

The weak among you is strong in my sight, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs God willing. And the strong among you is weak in my sight until I take from them what is rightfully someone else’s God willing.

Abubaccar Tambadou fought for the rights of the oppressed Rohingya to be returned to them, and refused to succumb to the intimidation of the government of Myanmar (Burma) and other strong governments that feared being held accountable for their own war crimes.Click To Tweet

When Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was with the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), it was only the 2 of them and the third was Allah. Imam Al Ghazali (ra) said the most blessed oppressed one to support is the one who has no one but Allah (man la naasira lahu ilAllah), and so when you choose to champion those who others find no political usefulness in supporting, you become a special agent of Allah sent to their aid in rare company.

Your Excellency Abubaccar, may Allah grant you a generous space under the shade of His Throne on the Day of Judgment, and a distinguished station next to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the highest level of Paradise.

Justice For All’s Burma Task Force has filed a case on behalf of the victims of the Rohingya Genocide in the International Court of Justice- support the case by donating here. The Rohingya want justice.

 

Photo: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of Burma Task Force, His Excellency Abubaccar Tambadou, Imam Omar Suleiman and Karim Yaqub, Rohingya activist at the presentation of the Torch of Justice.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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