Tuesday 20 November 2007

Islamist violence is Sexual Violence

More evidence here ;

Dr. Tawfik Hamid [jihadi dropout] is not being flip. The physician and author believes the repressed passions of young Muslims, particularly Sunnis, make them susceptible to the promise of a heaven filled with pleasures of the flesh, and eager to blow up themselves and others to get there.

"I was 8 years old when I first entered this powerful brainwashing system," says Hamid, who grew up in affluence as the son of a Cairo doctor. "At first, my head was filled with images of a paradise of chocolates and lollypops. Later, it was of women." ...

"We used to pray and imagine these beautiful women in tents," he says. "At the same time, our sexual repression was overwhelming. We were taught that even masturbation would deny us our reward."

He has advice for the West, how we are approaching this war against terror the wrong way. He suggests changes we should make and believes nothing will happen until an Islamic 'Martin Luther' emerges to lead the Muslims in the right direction.

Hamid scoffs at the Bush administration's strategy of combatting Islamism with democracy.

"The only solution is a reformation of Islam," he says. "We should be encouraging and supporting religious reformers."

Hamid believes a reformation will lead to the more enlightened practice of Islam, as it did with the Christian and Jewish reformations. The essential ingredients of reform, he says, are rejection of the principles that apostates must be killed; women can be subjugated and enslaved; Jews are subhuman, and Islam can be spread through violence.

The challenge, he says, is that no Islamic Martin Luther has emerged. "Show me where Muslims are speaking out against these beliefs," he says.

"Only a small number of Muslims are jihadists, but many, many more sympathize with their goals. They are passive terrorists."

Hamid's book is "The Roots of Jihad." He remains a practicing Muslim, but wants his religion to become more free, more tolerant, more open to secular pleasures -- like baseball -- and more accepting of criticism.

The West, he says, could help with the latter.

"You are so willing to criticize your own religions," he says. "You must do the same for Islam."

In other words, instead of walking on eggshells for fear of roiling the wasps' nest, both East and West would be better served by a vigorous critique of Islam.


Wright draws a fascinating picture of Sayyid Qutb, the font of modern Islamic fundamentalism, a frail, middle-aged writer who found himself, as a visitor to the United States and a student at Colorado State College of Education in Greeley in the 1940’s, overwhelmed by the unbridled splendor and godlessness of modern America. And by the sex: like so many others who followed him, Qutb seemed simultaneously drawn to and repelled by American women, so free and unselfconscious in their sexuality. The result is a kind of delirium:

“A girl looks at you, appearing as if she were an enchanting nymph or an escaped mermaid,” Qutb wrote, “but as she approaches, you sense only the screaming instinct inside her, and you can smell her burning body, not the scent of perfume, but flesh, only flesh. Tasty flesh, truly, but flesh nonetheless.”

It wasn’t much later that Qutb began writing elaborate rationalizations for killing non-Muslims and waging war against the West. Years later, Atta expressed a similar mix of obsession and disgust for women. Indeed, anyone who has spent time in the Middle East will recognize such tortured emotions.

WRIGHT shows, correctly, that at the root of Islamic militancy — its anger, its antimodernity, its justifications for murder — lies a feeling of intense humiliation. Islam plays a role in this, with its straitjacketed and all-encompassing worldview. But whether the militant hails from a middle-class family or an impoverished one, is intensely religious or a “theological amateur,” as Wright calls bin Laden and his cohort, he springs almost invariably from an ossified society with an autocratic government that is unable to provide any reason to believe in the future.

Rather than turning their revulsion on themselves, they lash out at the object of their revulsion. Hence the focus on the “godlessness” of America


ALL SERIAL KILLERS, almost without exception, are severely sexually abused as children. The kind of people who hijack a plane with innocent people and drive it into a building with thousands of other innocent people are related to this phenomenon.
When sociopaths rape and kill, they do not see their victims as human beings, but only as objects. This is because the sociopaths were themselves, at one time, used as objects - as their bodily integrity was repeatedly violated. The rage that results from sexual abuse is one thing, but when combined with living in a dysfunctional culture of sexual repression and misogyny, where love is reduced to violent domination, it is quite another.

Throughout the Islamic Middle East, men and women are taught to be vehemently opposed to pleasure, especially of the sexual variety. Men are raised not only forbidden to touch women, but to even look at them. Sex before marriage is not just a sin -- but a criminal offence. It is punishable by a severe beating at best, and an execution at worst.

The sexual privileges that are allowed in Islamic cultures are permitted to men. Women's sexuality and social independence represent major threats to male supremacy and are tightly controlled. Thus, as the Moroccan feminist Fitna Sabbah reveals in her book Woman in the Muslim Unconscious, there is a disturbing conflict in the Middle East between sexual libido and repression. A deep-seated fear of, and hostility to, individuality prevails, and its main expression exists in misogyny.

Socially segregated from women, Arab men succumb to homosexual behavior. But, interestingly enough, there is no word for "homosexual" in their culture in the modern Western sense. That is because having sex with boys, or with effeminate men, is seen as a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The male who does the penetrating, meanwhile, is not emasculated any more than if he had sex with a wife. The male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not, since it is rationalized that he is not yet a man.

In this culture, males sexually penetrating males becomes a manifestation of male power, conferring a status of hyper-masculinity. It is considered to have nothing to do with homosexuality. An unmarried man who has sex with boys is simply doing what men do. As the scholar Bruce Dunne has demonstrated, sex in Islamic societies is not about mutuality between partners, but about the adult male's achievement of pleasure through violent domination.

There is silence around this issue. It is the silence that legitimizes sexual violence against women, such as honor crimes and female circumcision. It is also the silence that forces victimized Arab boys into invisibility. Even though the society does not see their sexual exploitation as being humiliating, the psychological and emotional scars that result from their subordination, powerlessness and humiliation is a given. Traumatized by the violation of their dignity and manliness, they spend the rest of their lives trying to get it back.

The problem is that trying to recover from sexual abuse, and to recapture one's own shattered masculinity, is quite an ordeal in a culture where women are hated and love is interpreted as hegemonic control.

With women out of touch - and out of sight -- until marriage, males experience pre-marital sex only in the confines of being with other males. Their sexual outlet mostly includes victimizing younger males - just the way they were victimized.

In all of these circumstances, the idea of love is removed from men's understanding of sexuality. Like the essence of Arab masculinity, it is reduced to hurting others by violence. A gigantic rupture develops between men and women, where no harmony, affection or equality is allowed to exist. In relationships between men, meanwhile, affection, solidarity and empathy are left out of the picture. They threaten the hyper-masculine order.

It is excruciating to imagine the sexual confusion, humiliation, and repression that evolve in the mindsets of males in this culture. But it is no surprise that many of these males find their only avenue for gratification in the act of humiliating the foreign "enemy," whose masculinity must be violated at all costs - as theirs once was.

Violating the masculinity of the enemy necessitates the dishing out of severe violence against him. In the recent terrorist strikes, therefore, violence against Americans served as a much-needed release of the terrorists' bottled-up sexual rage. Moreover, it served as a desperate and pathological testament of the re-masculinization of their emasculated selves


IF WE REALLY want to understand the mindset of the Muslim fundamentalists, it’s time that the issue of sexual politics was addressed head on. Just how does the total domination of women in fundamentalist societies affect the men? After all, when it comes to sex, both genders are involved. And when it comes to extreme forms of aggression and violence, sublimated sexual fear and repression are all too often at the root of the problem.
Take the heartbreaking story of a young Muslim woman, Fatima (I have changed her name), who was referred for psychotherapy. When I first saw her in the waiting area, she looked hunched and lifeless in her scruffy jeans and T-shirt. She had become so severely depressed she rarely left her refugee hostel. Her English was excellent. She was from a progressive Middle Eastern country where she had been a university lecturer before fleeing to the West. As a teenager she had been raped by her brother-in-law. Her mother swore her to secrecy — imperative to save the family honour. Years later, despite her successful career, her mother, against Fatima’s wishes, arranged for her to be married to a much older man. To conceal her lost virginity, her mother hired a doctor to sew up Fatima’s vagina. In an act of desperation Fatima took rat poison in a mosque. Her mother publicly denounced her daughter to protect the family from scandal. Should Fatima ever return home her brothers would murder her for bringing dishonour to their family. “Honour” killings, Fatima told me, were common — the authorities either turn a blind eye or issue six-month prison sentences.

It’s too easy to pigeonhole Fatima’s distress as a “woman’s issue”. Men are also victims of a cultural mindset that obliges them to display their masculine dominance by murdering their sisters if they are suspected of losing their virginity before marriage, or killing their wives if suspected of adultery.

Fundamentalists demand that women be veiled and segregated at every level of society, starting at puberty. Public displays of affection between husbands and wives are forbidden. Wife-beating is so prevalent, many see it as a normal part of marriage. In bed any sexual position where the woman is on top is haram or sinful. It’s difficult to imagine how either gender can enjoy intimacy in such a climate.

So what is the effect on young unmarried men who, like youths the world over, are subject to a whole host of fears about their burgeoning sexuality? What do they do with their unacceptable sexual fantasies fuelled by the strict regime and the temptations of the mysterious, hidden feminine world? Too often they project their self-disgust on to their object of desire, whom they blame for causing them to have “impure” thoughts. Twenty-five years ago when Ayatollah Khomeini took over Iran, women who let a single lock of hair fall beneath their headscarves were beaten for abusing their sexual power. Women who had worn make-up and Western dress under the Shah were denigrated as “Westoxicated”. And the supposedly sexually licentious West became, and remains, “the Great Satan”, purveyor of all evil that must be destroyed.

The connections between sexual repression, extreme violence and a male obsession with war and death are recognisable in the West. In America Christian Reconstructionists, a fundamentalist sect, also advocate the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality and “unchastity before marriage” (but for women only). Studies of the psychology of Fascism show how the Nazi cult of obeying, adoring and fearing the F├╝hrer is rooted in the patriarchal family obeying, adoring and fearing the father. The Nazis, like modern Islamic and Christian fundamentalists, were also obsessed with virgins and women as submissive housewives and perfect mothers. Their extreme masculinity values, above all else, male bonding and sacrificing their lives for the fatherland’s high ideals of racial or religious purity, with the promise of glorious martyrdom.

Fascist mindsets promote the abuse and denigration of “impure” women. In modern Islamist Tehran there is a thriving sex trade — an estimated 84,000 women are in prostitution and thousands of girls are sold as sex slaves across the Arab world.

Arguably such societies are in the grip of mass psychosis. Like a paranoid psychotic they split the world between those they hopelessly idealise as pure and good, and those they denigrate as evil and out to destroy them. It is not unusual for a paranoid psychotic to nurture delusions of grandeur and an imaginary hotline to God.

Western and Islamic feminists have for too long agonised about what right we have to assume that the sexual freedoms enjoyed by Western women should be a global gold standard of how to live in the modern world. The debate always becomes ensnared in multiculturalism — that we must respect the diversity of beliefs and traditions even if these include human rights abuses of women in Muslim countries. But we only have to look around us to see how, in the most sophisticated levels of society where women are seen as equal, men also benefit — they are more tolerant, more able to enjoy intimacy and less aggressive towards women and each other. So attitudes towards gender and sexuality are not just a feminist issue for women to discuss while the men set about combating terrorism.

To understand the violence of the fundamentalist fascist mentality, skewed gender relations and repressed sexuality, far from being peripheral, have to be confronted head on.

The author is a freelance writer and psychotherapist.

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