Nothing reveals more about man’s soul than how he treats a child. Manipulation of a child’s innocence or taking a child’s life to further man’s grander objective is pure evil. It is worrisome when a culture gives rise to a mindset where this happens as children fall victim to man’s political or religious ambitions.
Understanding this is all-important in dealing with the Muslim mindset, particularly as President Obama continues to believe he can engage in meaningful dialogue with leaders he just does not understand. While extremists foster this culture, the lack of outrage by moderate Muslims makes them just as culpable. Our President ignores the reason why such a dialogue—now and for the foreseeable future—remains impossible. It boils down to Muslim children being used/abused by Muslims to promote a political or religious agenda.
Last month, a 13-year old Syrian boy, Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb, marched with his family in a nonviolent anti-government rally in the city of Daraa. Authorities detained him along with hundreds of others involved in the protest against President Bashar al-Assad. After weeks of absence, Hamza’s barely recognizable body was returned to his family. It bore extensive evidence of torture—bruises, burns to the feet, elbows, face and knees, and the removal of his genitals. The wounds, according to family members, were consistent with those caused by electric shock devices and cable whippings. His eyes were swollen and black, with both arms bearing bullet wounds. Despite warnings by the Syrian secret police not to speak out about it, his incensed family has.
Hamza’s horrific death at the hands of Syrian authorities was to send a message: If we will do this to a child, just think what awaits you. While Daraa residents have made their outrage over the boy’s death clear, little anger has been expressed elsewhere from within the Muslim world.
Hamza is yet another in a long line of Muslim children who, for decades, have served as pawns for Muslim leaders in power—or those trying to gain power.
The effort by al-Qaeda to gain control in Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion led to one of the most barbaric acts against a child in an effort by these terrorists to intimidate through fear. Unable to convince villagers to support their cause, one couple was invited to have lunch with al-Qaeda leaders. After arriving, they were served the main course—the baked remains of one of their children. This incident, first reported by journalist Michael Yon in 2007, is not a one-time atrocity.
Foremost among nations victimizing their own children based on religious justifications is Iran.
During its eight-year war (1980-1988) with Iraq, Iran incurred high casualties attempting to penetrate Iraqi positions defended by minefields. Valuing his trained fighters more than his children, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, solicited child “volunteers” to march through the minefields to clear an approach path along which Iranian soldiers could then follow. Khomeini gave plastic keys to each child prior to the clearing operation, informing them it would open the gates of paradise once they ascended to Heaven. So brainwashed were they by their religious handlers, the children naively raced each other through the minefields, undeterred as bodies were ripped apart by detonating explosive devices.
Thousands of Iranian children marched to their deaths this way, manipulated by the evil designs of religious leaders and zealots they trusted. Among those cheering them on to death was Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In Iranian schools, as well as those in Hamas-controlled Gaza, children are taught to hate Jews. They are shown cartoon videos reinforcing this message and glorifying those who become suicide bombers. Lost upon the children is the hypocrisy that there has yet to be the child of an Islamic religious leader ever taking on this role.
Understanding Iran’s sick history of victimizing children and knowing it now has advisers in Syria assisting Assad in cracking down on anti-government protests, it would not be surprising if Iranian agents played a role in torturing young Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb.
A 2004 incident at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank is most telling about how diverse cultures place different values upon the same life. As a young Palestinian boy approached, Israeli soldiers saw an explosive vest under his jacket and dove for cover. Although their initial reaction was to shoot, they could see the child was distraught—and held their fire. They disarmed the vest, discovering the child was mentally retarded, later learning extremists took advantage of this to force him into becoming a suicide bomber. The Israelis returned the child to his parents.
The late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir observed there would never be peace in the Middle East as long as Muslims hated Jews more than they loved their own children. She was right. In devaluing any child’s life, Muslims effectively make them “children of a lesser God.”
The Middle East will never know peace as long as the cycle of hatred fostered by Muslim extremists and tolerated by Muslim moderates continues to victimize Muslim children.