[originally published in my Octant, February 2006]
The Human Rights Watch seems to present to the public and governments aspects formerly the dominant province associated with Amnesty International. Of note are two especial contributions, each dealing, in various ways, with the manner in which Islam manifests and is understood by particular groups of people. The real and serious concern is whether the actions perpetrated are trully reflective, as its promulgators seem to believe, of the writings (or actions?) of Mohammed.
1984’s Ministry of Thought
Thoughts are dangerous. Or at least some are. In some places, thoughts that should be encouraged by all reasonable adults are instead viewed as dangerous. This seems to reverse healthy thought: unhealthy dangerous thinking, in the minds of those in power, accuses those with healthier thoughts than themselves of having dangerous ones.
On the one hand is the arrest of Rabbah al-Quwai’i in Saudi Arabia for his views that question aspects of Islam. He is of course someone who is likely to gain the support of the international community as he has a relatively high ‘public’ profile.
On the other, one may readily wonder how many other individuals are similarly arrested, killed, imprisoned or prevented from expressing their views because deemed incompatible with a society overshadowed by sectarian views against freedom of thought?
Newspeak: Murder is Suicide
Then, there are specifically actions that seek to simply kill.
It is quite naïve and sad to employ a concept that, though it may enable us to gain a caricatured image of the act, describes actions that pure-and-simply murders others. Even Human Rights Watch is here perpetuating an erroneous view. On one of its pages, it speaks of the murder of others by carrying bombs on oneself by that same misnomenclature of ‘suicide’. Specifically, in its otherwise positive contribution, it addresses one section of its document thus:
To the Groups Responsible for Perpetrating Suicide Bombings and Other Attacks on Civilians
Human Rights Watch unreservedly condemns suicide bombings as war crimes and crimes against humanity. We call on those responsible to desist immediately and to renounce their use unconditionally. In particular, Human Rights Watch calls on the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to:
· Cease such attacks immediately and declare publicly that they will not resort to such attacks in the future under any circumstances.
Are the bombings actions of suicide?
Clearly, the answer is ‘no’. One must not confuse this question with a similar one as to whether the bombings are effectively suicidal, for the answer to that one is clearly affirmative.
The bombings are not intended as actions of suicide, but as actions of intent to kill others (in other words, murder), in which the self-killing of the bomber is an ‘unfortunate’ side-effect of the act. The intent, and the predominant consequence remains the murder and maiming of the intended victims, and ‘by the grace of God’ the perpetrator may have his or her life spared.
Perhaps it is high time that journalists and others speaking publicly use the correct description, and call these Murderous Bombings, and its perpetrators Murderous Bombers.