Women Against War

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Speech by Dina Refki at Women Against War’s Exhibit of Eyes Wide Open

As a Muslim American woman, I cannot begin to describe the pain that I feel for the destruction and madness that are going on, the millions that are being spent on inflicting deep wounds that will last for centuries, and the lives that are lost everyday on each side.  

I think at the heart of this madness is an age old blind hate ideology that both warring sides practice. This ideology turns human beings into demons who do not deserve the rights that human beings are entitled to, and paints the “other” with a uniform brush of evil. It makes it a duty for each side to destroy the “other” and rid humanity of them.  I guess this is needed to make the unnatural and unimaginable act of murder natural and imaginable.  

The same maddens that made the terrorists paint Americans with a uniform brush of evil and justified in their minds the terror they inflicted is used by extremists in the US media and elsewhere who paint 1 billion of the world’s population with the stereotypical brush of terror and violence. As an American Muslim, it is excruciatingly painful to witness the daily assault on the identity of Muslims, the daily demonization of 1 billion of the world population.  

For centuries, various acts of terrorism have been carried out in different parts of the world by different groups for a variety of purposes. Communist organizations, fascist groups and radical separatist factions assumed responsibilities of these acts. To mention a few, the Red Army faction in Greece, the Neo Nazis in Germany, ETA in Spain, Red Brigades in Italy and many other organizations sought to make their voices heard through terror and violence by killing innocent and defenseless people.  Terrorism is NOT a Muslim invention!! Yet the term terrorism is exclusively reserved for Muslims. Terrorists who hold Christian or Jewish identities, however, are never labeled by their religious identities.  

Even if the terrorists have Muslim identities, the terror they perpetrate cannot be called “Islamic terror.” Why, because murder is not an Islamic Act, let alone murdering of self or innocent people. The Qur’an says: If someone kills another person, it is as if he murdered all mankind and if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind.  

Islam cannot be reconciled with terror. The prophet of Islam says “The merciful are shown mercy by the Merciful one. Show mercy to those on earth and you will be shown mercy by the One in Heaven.” God commands believers to respond to respond to evil with goodness. “The Qur’an says “A good deed and a bad deed are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and if there us enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend.”  

The Qur’an says “O, you who believe! Show integrity for the sake of god, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just.” Let not the hatred of a people who obstructed you from the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgress. Help one another in benevolence and piety, and help not one another in sin and transgression.” So one is prohibited from transgressing against those who wronged him/her. The sanctity of human life is an elementary Islamic principle.  Killing of oneself is an unforgivable major sin in a category of its own. Nothing in Islam justifies suicide. Nothing. I constantly wonder if there is one Qur’an worldwide, how do the terrorists reconcile these verses that are not subject to any misinterpretations or distortions.  

By attacking Iraq, a country that has not attacked us, and wrecking havoc on that country, we are turning this into a war of defense in the minds of many. This is extremely dangerous. Muslims believe that the only time you are allowed to fight is in self defense. If people start to believe they are defending their country and their homes from people who invaded them, this will legitimize the resistance in the minds of many. And the vicious cycle of war will be endless. This is exacerbated when they see images of civilian torture and killings and they wonder whatever happened to the claim that the US is there to liberate Iraq? When did we Iraqis become the enemy? Americans are supposed to be the ones trying to bring democracy to us and liberate us, help us build a better world.   

War is without question the ultimate terror machine. Dropping bombs on civilian population is murder. An whether you will apologize or not after the bombs fall, these actions ruin lives forever, leave deep scars, and feed an endless cycle of revenge and  retaliation.  

This war is sowing seeds of hate that will thrive for many many years. We are rapidly alienating even moderate Muslims by cementing of the idea that is rapidly taking very strong hold in many Muslim countries that the US is against Islam and is out to destroy it, crusade style. History is very much alive in the minds of people. The collective memories of the crusades, a term which we still use in this country to allude to something noble and just, are very much alive in this region. This war takes place in the shadows of the crusades and the oppressive years of colonialism European countries. It is reviving a painful past and paving the way for an even more painful future.  

As Muslim Americans, our pain is multiplied. We are seen as the enemy within who is not entitled to the same constitutional rights as everyone else. We are humbled and deeply grateful, however, for the efforts to stop the madness.