Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome
Part 47: The High Price of Obedience and Hypocrisy
-AYAAN HIRSI ALI
I cannot continue this exploration in good conscience without acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice of Nazimuddin Samad, 28, a Bangladeshi law student and blogger. As reported in The Guardian (April 7, 2016), last week Samad was hacked to death by at least four assailants shouting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) as they attacked him on a busy road near Jagannath University, where he studied. Samad is not the first blogger killed viciously by radical Islamists; sadly, he will not be the last. He had been on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a group of radical Islamists drew up and sent to the Bangladesh interior ministry. His murder was only the latest in a series of killings of secular activists and bloggers in the country.
The day after, demonstrators in Dhaka urged the Bangladeshi authorities to take the killing seriously. They accuse the government of having fostered a culture of impunity in the past. In 2015, suspected militants hacked at least four atheist bloggers and a secular publisher to death in one of a series of targeted killings in the Muslim-majority country. The Guardian article reports that though the Police arrested members of a banned group suspected as the perpetrators, none has yet been prosecuted.
As stated in Part 44 (On Religious-Political Holy Alliances), collusion between political and religious leaders have been the norm instead of the exception. The Bangladeshi government simply imitates the Saudi monarch in Saudi Arabia, who has entered a "Holy Alliance" with the Wahhabist movement since the late 18th century. In a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" deal of Koranic proportions, the Wahhabists sought protection from the Saudi royal family. Tit for tat: The Saudi royal family would endorse the Wahhabist austere form of pure Islam and to return the favor, the Saudi royal family would get political legitimacy and regular tithes from Wahhabist followers.
The most critical instrument in Holy Alliances is the bogeyman (often spelled as boogeyman). Throughout history, authoritarian regimes all over the world have been nurturing, then incestuously colluding with bogeymen to advance their political legitimacy for the sake of political stability and unity. The Oxford Dictionary defines bogeyman as "an imaginary evil spirit, referred to typically to frighten children." Parenting may or may not include the utilization of a bogeyman to enforce children's perpetual fear and obedience. Thus, in a political science context, governments may or may not utilize bogeymen to unite citizens and enforce their blind obedience. And that is exactly the problem. As pointed out by American historian and social activist Howard Zinn (1922-2010): "Historically, the most terrible things—war, genocide, and slavery—have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience."
For Adolf Hitler, the Jews were the bogeymen. For Catholics, the Protestants (and vice versa). For communists, the capitalists (and vice versa). For Shiites, the Sunnis (and vice versa). For royalists, the Republicans (and vice versa). For liberals, the Conservatives (and vice versa). During the Cold War, fascist military juntas in South and Central America employed the bogeyman strategy to persecute any opposition. Anyone who dared to speak out against a regime were labeled as "communists" (whether real or not) then summarily made to "disappear". Likewise, several Muslim countries still employ the bogeyman strategy to persecute non-Muslims and infidels. Mind you, authoritarian regimes do not necessarily apply the bogeyman strategy because they feel threatened by vocal critics (whether secular bloggers or other groups); instead, the ultimate objective is to unite and consolidate their political base.
As aptly described by David Tormsen in 10 Sordid Stories Of The Saudi Royal Family (June 23, 2015): "Absolute monarchies generate more crazy stories than democratic republics. While the common people of the Saudi state are subject to strict rules and tender mercies of the religious police, the royal family are subject to no such restrictions and live lives of luxury and adventure. Instead, the biggest threats to the Saudi princes and princesses are often themselves."
In one of the examples, Tormsen illustrates the preposterous level of mind-blowing hypocrisy: "Halloween is banned in the Saudi kingdom, as are most foreign holidays, for their "un-Islamic" nature. Every October, shopping malls are patrolled by religious police on the lookout for outlets selling costumes. But this prohibition doesn’t extend to the royal family. According to US diplomatic cables released through Wikileaks, there is a wild party scene in Jeddah under the protection of Saudi princes. In 2009, Prince Faisal al Thunayan held an underground Halloween party at his residence, inviting over 150 young Saudi men and women. Prince Faisal is a Cadet prince, meaning that he is not in line for the throne but still enjoys all the protection and perks of being a member of the royal family. The religious police were kept at bay by khawi, young Nigerian bodyguards of a similar age who grow up with their princes and serve for life and are considered utterly loyal.
Despite Saudi prohibitions on alcohol, Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch made from sadiqi, a local moonshine. Top-shelf liquor bottles filled with sadiqi were on display. The event, co-sponsored by US energy drink company Kizz-me, featured dancing, costumes, and a DJ. The American consulate officials attending the event heard by word of mouth that many of the female guests were actually prostitutes hired for the event and also that cocaine and hashish use is common at these kind of parties."
Alcohol, prostitutes, cocaine and hashish. The Saudi royal family can get away with all of that, never mind the "pure" Islam's strict theology of Wahhabism. What Wahhabism? Yet Nazimuddin Samad was hacked to death only because in his FaceBook profile he courageously declared that he has no religion. This explains why the Bangladeshi government have fostered a culture of impunity towards past perpetrators. Most likely there must be a tit for tat, Saudi-style, incestuous pact between the Bangladeshi government and the religious vigilantes. Ironically, the assassination proves the truth of Nazimuddin Samad's statement that "Religion and race are [an] invention of the savage and uncivil people." Unfortunately, he was cowardly murdered by the very same savage and uncivil people in the name of, what else, religion.
[To be continued.]
Johannes Tan, Indonesian Translator & Conference Interpreter