Friday, October 8, 2010

My trip to Al-Qaeda (Lawrence Wright)

I was just watching a documentary. Rather well done, even handed. From someone, who has been there. And I think, in many ways, it may be the best documentary I've seen on this subject.

This is a couple of the things he said....

"In the middle east, men grow up largely outside the company of women. They're untrained. They haven't spent their adolescence molding their behavior around pleasing girls. Which is a lot of what civilization really is. That's right, its not so easy to be a terrorist, if your girlfriend won't let ya. The men are nearly incapacitated by longing." - Lawrence Wright, "My Trip to Al-Qaeda"

Lawrence tells a story....

There was a girls' school in Mecca (Makkah). A fire broke out. The girls are always locked inside, for discretion, for religious, propriety. Fifteen girls died, and more than fifty were injured. When the seventeen fire engine arrived to fight the fire and save the girls, but a single man stood in their way and stopped them dead in their tracks, because the girls were not wearing their Abaya, as they needed to be properly covered in public. He was a Mutawwa, a member of the "Committee for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice". The country's religious police. That, should tell you something right there. Is there really, really a God, who would want a people to be governed by a group of "religious police".

Another man there, saw his daughter on the other side of the locked gate, where the girls were screaming for someone to let them out. The father obeyed the Mutawwa, and told her to go back inside to get her Abaya. She followed her father's command, re-entered the school, and died inside, burned to death.

Did this event change how things like that are handled? Some claimed, of course. They fired the head of girl's education. But, have they stopped locking girls inside old buildings, with no fire escapes? Is the government now building safe schools for girls? Are they conducting fire drills?

None of this is to show these people as being bad people. Its pointing out how their culture has lead to where we are now. Not only have they been put upon by modern, first world, Western societies, but also by their own, their neighbors, their religion, their leaders.

But this is only part of the story. For there is much more. Not only are these people living in a culture that leads them down a path like this, we have fallen into the path nearby. And if we're not careful, we will, over time, begin to look more and more, just like them.

"There is a hole inside us. Its black hole. The country that we were, is being sucked inside. Al-Qaeda can't destroy America. Only we can do that, to ourselves." - Lawrence Wright

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