With all of the advancements in human rights, medicine, and more that the west can lay claim to, one would think it would be third world countries who could learn from us. Then again, one could be wrong. It seems that in at least one area – or subject, it is countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia and Kenya who could teach the United States. And that subject is Islam. No, I am not talking about “radical” or “fundamentalist” Islam, I am talking about Islam in general. Moderate Islam. Everyday Islam. The Islam that is practiced by approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, including those in America. And this is an important point to make.
Most of what we know about Islam and about Muslims, is what we hear in the 6 o’clock news report. “Radical Islamic Terrorists Bomb World Trade Center”, “Islamic Fundamentalists Kill Seven Civilians”, “Muslim Extremists Fly Planes into Pentagon.” Last July Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “All religions have extremists” and the fact of the matter is, she is absolutely right. It’s true. The Buddhists have Aum Shinrikyo, the Hindus had the Thugees, Islam has al Qaeda, the Jews had the Pharisees, and Christianity has the Ku Klux Klan, just to name a few. In fact, any group who terrorizes or kills people in the name of religion can be considered religious extremists. But religious extremism is not the subject of this article. No, we’re talking about moderate Islam.
Just this month, the country of Nepal has issued a ban on all Nepalese women under the age of 30 from immigrating to the Middle East to work as domestic servants. This followed a similar ban issued by Ethiopia less than two week before, and these are not the only countries to do so. In June Kenya also issued a ban on all men and women immigrating to the Middle East seeking to work as domestic servants, and in 2011, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka issued similar bans as well, and in particular singled out the Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait and Syria. These bans were not arbitrarily issued, nor were they issued to force some sort of monetary kick back to the various governments. The fact of the matter is, they were issued in order to protect the citizens of these assorted third world countries from abusive treatment, sexual assaults, rape, the confiscation of passports, the withholding of wages, and enslavement – practices that are rampant throughout the Islamic world and is actually part of the culture of Islam.
Often, these servants (both male and female) are the victims of sexual assault. Bishwa Khadka, the director of Maiti, a Nepalese organization dedicated to helping domestic servants who have been abused at the hands of the Arab employers, said, “We have met several housemaids who were not only raped by their masters, but also forced to have sex with the masters’ relatives. They are confined to the house and live in a situation akin to slavery.” One Nepalese woman named Kumari, who suffered such abuse at the hands of her Kuwaiti employer said, “My body would ache. He beat me up. First he covered my mouth so I could not scream.” According to Egyptian feminist Dr. Nawal Al-Sa’dawi, to understand the Islamic mindset regarding women one must realize that “It is said that women must be ‘tamed’ like horses and other animals – and this ‘taming’ is carried out by using violence against her, until her independent spirit – including her thoughts, her aspirations, and her dreams – is ‘murdered.’” This mindset is further validated in the minds of Muslim men, specifically regarding female servants, by the koran itself which states in sura 4:24, “and all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hand possess. It is a decree of allah for you…” (in case you think this has been taken out of context, please see sura 33:50, 23:5-6, 70:20-30).
Female servants as sex-slaves is still a predominant mindset in Islam. And not only is this belief prevalent among Muslim men, but there is a movement afoot to claim this “right” for single Muslim women as well, as is explained in the following video:
At this point I would normally be obligated to inform my readers that they should take heed lest this happen here in America. Many would, of course, scoff and say “No! Not here in America! Slavery is illegal here! These kinds of things could never happen here!” I will not, however, warn you that it could happen here, because to do so would be a waste of time since it is already happening here, and has been for some time among the moderate, non-extremist, non-radicalized, non-fundamentalist Muslim community in America.
- In July 2011, United Arab Emirates officer Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali, while in the United States as a student at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, has been accused of confiscating the passport of his Filipino housekeeper, as well as withholding her wages, making her work unreasonably long hours, and preventing her from speaking to anyone outside his family. In other words, enslaving her.
- In October 2008, Mohammad Atahee, a resident of Seattle, Washington was brought up on charges of illegally “marrying” a 16 year old Afghani girl who had been brought over to America illegally for the purpose of becoming a slave for Atahee. Prosecutors say that Atahee beat, threatened, and sexually assaulted the girl and forced her to cook, clean, babysit, and do laundry for him, his family and his friends.
- Also in 2008, Rozina Mohd Ali of Sugarland, Texas pleaded guilty for enslaving an Indonesian woman who was forced to labor for Ali and her family for long hours over a four to five year period. As with other Muslim slave “owners” in the United States, Ali withheld wages and her victims passport in order to prevent her from leaving.
- In 2006, Homadian Al-Turki, a resident of Aurora, Colorado, was convicted of enslaving and raping his Indonesian housekeeper, as well as theft of her wages. Federal charges of holding her passport to prevent her from fleeing were dropped after federal prosecutors decided the 28 year sentence by the state court was sufficient. In his defense, Al-Turki claimed that he had not actually raped or enslaved her, but that he had treated the woman no differently than any observant Muslim family would treat a daughter. Al-Turki told the judge, “Your honor, I am not here to apologize for I cannot apologize for things I did not do and for crimes I did not commit. Attacking traditional Muslim behavior was the focal point of the prosecution.” In other words, rape and enslavement is “traditional Muslim behavior.” (on a side note, I have met Al-Turki since his arrest and incarceration. He is still unrepentant and states that what he did was “normal for any Muslim” and a “common practice among Muslims.”)
- In March 2005, Hana Al-Jader, the wife of Saudi Prince Mohamed Bin Turki, was arrested at her home in Boston, Massachusetts on charges of forced labor, domestic servitude, falsifying records, visa fraud and harboring aliens after she forced two Indonesian women to work for her by convincing them they would suffer serious harm if they refused.
- In December 2005 Abdenasser Ennassime and his wife Tonya, both Moroccan Muslims living in Tacoma, Washington, were indicted and arrested for enslaving their 17 year old niece. They had brought the girl to America when she was only 12 years old, and, after reading in her private diary her complaints about her mistreatment, she was allegedly beaten, withdrawn from school, and forced to work even longer hours at the couples espresso stand.
- In October 2005 Waleed Al-Saleh, a Kuwaiti major and military attaché at the embassy in Washington, DC were accused of beating and enslaving three domestic workers according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court.
- In 2002, Abdelnasser Eid Youssef Ibrahim and his wife of Irvine, California pleaded guilty to four felonies in a child slave case, after they admitted bringing a 10 year old Egyptian girl to the United States, and threatening, beating, and forcing her to work 16 hours a day – seven days a week. The girl was forced to live in a 12 foot by 8 foot unlit and unventilated “cell” in the couples garage, and was not allowed to attend school or be seen by a doctor.
- In 1991, Saudi Prince Saad Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and his wife, Princess Noora were living on two floors of the Ritz-Carlton in Houston, Texas. During that time they were accused in a lawsuit by two of their servants (one from the Philippines and one from Sri Lanka) of holding them against their will for a period of five months by means of “unlawful threats, intimidation and physical force.” The two servants also state that they were only partially paid, denied medical treatment, suffered mental abuse and physical beatings.
- In 1988, the Saudi defense attaché in Washington, Col. Abdulrahm S. Al-Banyan was accused by his Thai servant of imprisoning her, not paying her, and providing her with insufficient food. The servant escaped by crawling out a window. Her employment contract specified that she was not allowed to leave the house or make telephone calls without the Colonel’s approval and permission.
- In 1982, a Miami, Florida judge issued a warrant to search the penthouse apartment of Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, based on information that he was holding an Egyptian woman against her will. Prince Turki and his bodyguards prevented a search from taking place, and then filed and were granted retroactive diplomatic immunity in order to prevent any legal proceedings against them for Prince Turki’s enslavement of the woman.
These are only a few of the known cases of enslavement, abuse and rape that servants have suffered at the hands of their Muslim “masters” in the United States, and these are only examples of those cases that have been reported. Imagine how many go unreported every day. I was once told by an attorney that of all the cases of domestic violence and child abuse that occur in the United States, only 10 percent are ever reported, and out of those 10 percent, less than 1 percent are ever prosecuted. If cases of enslavement, abuse and rape of domestic servants by Muslim “masters” in the United States has similar statistics, then this is truly an epidemic. And in thinking of this, I can’t help but remember the words of Homadian Al-Turki when he spoke to the judge about rape, abuse and enslavement. He called it “traditional Muslim behavior.” Not extremist, not radical, not fundamentalist, but “traditional.”
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