Last night on ABC an Indonesian woman made one of the most important statements about the world post Sept 11 2001. She said: “I am a Moslem woman, my husband was killed in the Bali bombing, I am very lonely without him, and I find it hard to look after my children. These Moslem groups who claim responsibility for the Bali bombing, I haven’t heard from them. Why don’t they come forward and help their fellow Moslems, people like me. They say Westerners are the enemy, but westerners have helped me.”
The interview/anecdote was by way of oblique commentary on footage of that smug so-called cleric Abu Bakar Bashir being removed to an isolated island prison, to reduce his ability to motivate fanatical followers. Also it surveyed activity in the town of Solo Indonesia where the Bali bombers are considered martyrs. Their sneer at the west is simply sickening; Bashir’s mindset which seems to be beamed in from another planet, it reminds me of stories of the Inquisition. Only a phase of the Abrahamic religions, when one is held up as the only and all else are infidels, can produce a mindset that regards non-believers as non-human. During the Inquisition, all manner of tortures were made use of; the worst, such as boiling a human in oil were only abandoned when the screams of the unfortunate victim became unbearable to the ears of the torturer. What a learning process for the terminally obtuse.
Islam like Judaism and Christianity exhorts its followers to do good works, to be merciful to the less fortunate. As the Indonesian widow laments, she should have been helped by fellow members of her religion. If this precept has been abandoned by the extremists, what else has been overlooked? One is reminded that prior to Sept 11, several of the suicide bombers took refuge in a US red light district. So much for religious principles.
It has been a week of action on the feminist front, and one hopes things are moving forward. In Pakistan where the 14 year old advocate for female education was shot twice by that pillar of Taliban masculinity, at last it seems things have turned against the bullies and destroyers of ancient monuments. The Pakistani Govt has offered a hundred thousand dollar reward for the capture of the assassins; this has had the effect of alienating the loyalty of Moslem leaders against the Taliban. Finally, one hopes, people are reminding themselves that not everything is permissible in their extremist ventures. Things done in the name of a religion still have to be judged by the principles of that system. Let us hope that process is still possible.