A Nigerian commenter posted to one of the “Hadji Girl” threads describing a horrific incident in which a 20-year-old woman was stoned to death recently by an angry mob. He wondered whether feminists and the “human rights crowd” would now denounce what he described as this evidence of religious persecution.
I looked for the news story and found it here. It is a hideous story. On June 29, a young woman walked into the Jumat Mosque in Izom, apparently to deliver a letter she had written denouncing the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, and pastors both living and dead for what were described as “misdeeds.” When the letter had been read by those inside the mosque, the woman was trailed, arrested, and brought to nearby police headquarters for interrogation, at which point young men in the area who had heard what she had done stormed police headquarters, overwhelmed police, and ultimately stoned and beat the woman to death. According to the report, no one has so far identified the young woman and she was not someone known to local residents.
In the course of searching for this story, I came across a number of bloggers eager to denounce Muslims for this act, most claiming this was an instance of Muslim persecution of Christians, some decrying Muslims as “fanatics” and “bloodthirsty.” I thought this was odd, given that the letter is said to have denounced Jesus Christ as well as the Prophet Mohammed. It’s true that Islam considers Jesus to be a prophet (which is the reasoning used by some to suggest that the denunciations of Christ were part of an overall denunciation of Islam). But it’s also true that a Christian would likely not be leaving letters denouncing Jesus anywhere; in general, Christians do not denounce Jesus Christ. So I think we can rule out the possibility that this was an instance of Muslims persecuting a Christian. But the main point the bloggers seemed to want to make was something along the lines of, “Look, how hypocritical feminists/leftists/progressives are. If it’s a Muslim woman killed by an American, they’re all over that, but if it’s Muslims killing a non-Muslim or a Christian, mum’s the word.” Their secondary goal seemed to be to say, in response to the rape of the Iraqi girl by American troops, “Muslims do it, too.” Or, “Muslims do it more or worse,” or something like that. An accompanying goal, of course, was to divert attention from the way troops in Iraq seem to have developed a pattern of terrorizing Iraqis, including civilians.
I was thinking along these same lines a few days ago while I was looking for information about the rape of ‘Abir Hazahm in Iraq. I noticed in the course of my searches that some websites documenting atrocities of American troops in Iraq were intent on pinning the misdeeds on Jewish soldiers, in particular. Some of these sites were hideously anti-semitic. Was the point really to document atrocities or to justify and fan the flames of anti-semitism?
I will go so far as to agree that too often leftists are hypocritical in these matters. Having said that, I’m a radical feminist, not a leftist (except that radical feminism is arguably all that is really left of the true Left, but that is another subject for another day, and what calls itself the Left in this day and age is nothing I want any part of.) I am interested in the liberation of the people of women– no matter their culture, their country, race, ethnicity, religion. Any rape, any torture, any murder, any abuse, stoning, execution, brutalizing of any woman or girl matters to me. It is all hideous. It is all egregious. It is all wrong and it all needs to end. I look towards the day when women like my sister, stoned to death in Izom, are no longer reduced to the status of pawns in men’s warmongering, death-loving, vengeance-worshipping pissing matches, when we are viewed as fully human, our deaths mourned as the lives of free human beings ought to be mourned, not as the loss of men’s property, chattel, servants, breeders, not as territories, cities, buildings, land are mourned. Not as the collateral damage of war. Not because we belong to some group of men or another.
When I read this story, I see a woman first harmed by patriarchal religion, as all women have been and are to a greater or lesser degree, by an endless number of mechanisms designed to subordinate women to men. I see a woman harmed by a world which treats girls and women hatefully from the time of their birth. I see a woman who was angry– with patriarchal religions in general, with pastors living and dead in particular. It’s not hard to imagine why she might have been. When I read this story, I see a courageous young woman, speaking her truth, crying out, brutalized and murdered by an angry mob of men because she dared to challenge those who had harmed her. The story is particularly poignant because we do not even know her name, who she was, or anything about her, just that she dared to step her toe over a line it is forbidden for a woman to cross. She is every woman. She is all of us.
No one can hurt her anymore; that is the only consolation in the desperately sad story. But there is a world full of women who are still being hurt by patriarchal religion, whose lives are being ruined by it, and I care about those women– whomever they are, whatever their religion. Don’t bother to post comments suggesting I will pick and choose amongst the atrocities against women which I report, based on some political loyalties you may fathom that I have. I won’t. My loyalties are to the people of women. I think women are a people. It is the women — whomever they are — I am concerned with. It is the atrocities they experience, like this woman experienced, at the hands of men, which you will always find me speaking out against.
Rest in peace, my sister. I am so, so sorry. You didn’t deserve what was done to you. It was wrong. May you rest in the arms of the Goddess. I won’t forget you.