Feminists, Muslim women in denial about Islamic State
While the Islamic state is enslaving and murdering thousands of women the silence of so called feminists in the West is deafening.
Sydney mother Assma Abdullah (Jasmina Milanov), who recently abandoned her two children and escaped to Syria, made hijrah, or migration in the cause of Allah. She is one of many vulnerable targets of Islamic State, which has enslaved and brutalised women, and introduced female police to persecute their own sex.
Why are Muslim women around the world enthusiastically joining a jihadist movement that enforces subjugation, and why are Western feminists giving jihadists a free pass?
Islamic State published a recruitment document, Women in the Islamic State: Manifesto and Case Study, with references to the holy texts. Written in Arabic and released by al-Khansaa, an armed brigade of female morality police, the treatise endorses hudud punishments such as public execution or lashing for “crimes against religion”: adultery, homosexuality, theft and apostasy. Women must remain hidden, veiled and homebound, and nine-year-old girls can get married. The manifesto envisions a future removed from the corruption of “Saudi tyrants” and atheistic Western contamination. Women are entreated to commit themselves to the movement and raise children as true believers.
In areas under Islamic State control, women are obligated to wear full Islamic dress, and female students from age 10 must cover their face and hands outside school. Following the recent capture of Palmyra, Islamic State commanders threatened women with flogging for disobeying Islamic dress code. Education must conform to a curriculum of takfiri dogma, which excommunicates and labels Muslims apostates or infidels if they are considered insufficiently pious.
Islamic State has executed women for refusing to marry jihadists, and in Iraq, decreed that female genital mutilation should be performed on women between the ages of 11 and 46.
Women and girls from minority ethnic and religious communities, such as Christians, Yazidis, and Shabak and Turkmen Shi’ites have been used as human shields. Many were abducted and sold as sex slaves in markets after being stripped and examined for virginity.
Islamic State has encouraged women to form their own militias, such as the Khansaa and Umm al-Rayan police units, based in Iraq and Syria. While operating checkpoints for a monthly salary, members are instructed to apprehend men who disguise themselves in women’s clothing to avoid being conscripted by Islamic State. Using thousands of enslaved Yazidi women, Khansaa is also running brothels for the benefit of Islamic State fighters.
Some of the most dedicated Khansaa women are said to be British extremists. Aqsa Mahmood from Glasgow is thought to be a central figure.
In the tradition of early Islamic conquests, Islamic State fighters claim religious legitimacy for slavery, based on texts that specify the distribution of war booty: four-fifths for fighters and one-fifth, or khums, to Muslim commanders.
In their online magazine Dabiq 4, Islamic State refers to the revival of sexual enslavement during war as heralding the apocalypse.
Islamic State has coerced women into “sexual jihad”, a form of temporary marriage for the pleasure of fighters. Foreign females have not migrated to Islamic State areas to fight in the frontline but to take part as “jihadi brides” or “comfort women” for militants.
For many recruits, the promise of a swaggering warrior lover and marriage blessed by a purified religion is irresistible compared with nuptials arranged by pragmatic parents.
The reality of living under Islamic State may be grim but newcomers are driven by online propaganda. Tantalised by the adventure of joining a revolutionary movement, they are ready to breed children for polygynous jihadis and a new world order. A future with Islamic State holds the promise of purpose and certainty in a recaptured golden age of Islam; a utopian existence in this world, and eternal life in paradise with loved ones. Also on offer is the surreptitious indulgence of enacting dark fantasies of violence fired by religion and sanctioned by the mob.
Not every generation has the opportunity to bring about a revolution, even if it looks to the past. In recent times, political upheavals in Iran, Algeria and Afghanistan were motivated by a desire to regain a sanctified early Islam.
Such a retrograde concept of uprisings, typical of radical political change in the region, is alien to the Western model of revolution as a progressive force for freedom and modernity.
Any liberal ideals initially proclaimed by the Arab Spring have been buried by Islamic State and discarded by naive female volunteers from abroad. But their conscription is vital for Islamic State because the caliphate needs settled families. About 550 women, of 4000 Western recruits, are thought to have moved to Islamic State areas, and some have brought their children. Islamic State also has enlisted more than 400 children, the “Cubs of the Caliphate”,
Instead of repudiating jihad, misogyny, temporary marriage, polygyny and centuries of patriarchy, human rights violations are being underwritten by the follies of gullible Muslim women around the world, as well as Western feminists, who traditionally pride themselves on opposing any sign of gender discrimination in their own societies.
By accepting institutionalised persecution of females by Islamic State, the feminist movement inevitably sides with the militia and its ideology.
During the Cold War, such fellow travellers were labelled useful idiots.
Ida Lichter is the author of Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression.