Salah Uddin Shoab Choudhury has paid dearly for his struggle against radical Islamism in his native Bangladesh. His voice needs to be heard. Is there a non-nasty side to radical Islamism? Besides suicide bombing, repression and violence against women and despotic regimes, I guess they are OK if you like that sort of thing.
Nasty side of radical Islam
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Many nations having Shariah Law or Mullah rule in the world are continuing to commit various forms of notoriety in the name of Islam. I know, what Islamists and people like Ahmadinejad or Wahhabis or notorious groups like Hamas, Hezbollah or Al Qaeda are doing, is not Islam at all. To get more specific answer as to why I have drawn such conclusion, we need to carefully read this entire article to understand, what is happening in those nations, which are having Shariah law or laws of Mullahs. Here we have reports on sexual assualt inside Iranian prison by the prison guards by taking the refuge of sermons issued by Mullahs. It is evidently proved that such practices are continuing in Iran since the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini.
A highly influential Shi'a religious leader, with whom Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regularly consults, apparently told followers last month that coercion by means of rape, torture and drugs is acceptable against all opponents of the Islamic regime. In the wake of a series of publications worldwide regarding the rape and torture of dissident prisoners in Iran 's jails, supporters of Ahmadinejad gathered with him in Jamkaran, a popular pilgrimage site for Shi'ite Muslims on the outskirts of Qom , on August 11, 2009. According to Iranian pro-democracy sources, the gathered crowd heard from Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi and Ahmadinejad himself regarding the issue.
According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center [ITIC], an independent intelligence analysis organization, Mesbah-Yazdi is considered Ahmadinejad's personal spiritual guide. A radical totalitarian even in Iranian terms, he holds messianic views, supports increasing Islamization, calls for violent suppression of domestic political opponents, and, according to the ITIC, "declared that obeying a president supported by the Supreme Leader was tantamount to obeying God."
At the Jamkaran gathering, Mesbah-Yazdi and Ahmadinejad answered questions about the rape and torture charges. The following text is from a transcript by Iranian dissidents to be a series of questions and answers exchanged between the Ayatollah and some of his supporters.
Asked if a confession obtained by applying psychological, emotional and physical pressure was valid and considered credible according to Islam, Mesbah-Yazdi replied: "Getting a confession from any person who is against the Velayat-e Faqih [Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists], or the regime of Iran's mullahs] is permissible under any condition."
The Ayatollah gave the identical answer when asked about confessions obtained through drugging the prisoner with opiates or addictive substances.
He was asked, "Can an interrogator rape the prisoner in order to obtain a confession?", which was the follow-up question posed to the Islamic cleric.
Mesbah-Yazdi answered: "The necessary precaution is for the interrogator to perform a ritual washing first and say prayers while raping the prisoner. If the prisoner is female, it is permissible to rape through the vagina or anus. It is better not to have a witness present. If it is a male prisoner, then it's acceptable for someone else to watch while the rape is committed."
This reply, and reports of the rape of teen male prisoners in Iranian jails, may have prompted the following question: Is the rape of men and young boys considered sodomy?
Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi: "No, because it is not consensual. Of course, if the prisoner is aroused and enjoys the rape, then caution must be taken not to repeat the rape."
A related issue, in the eyes of the questioners, was the rape of virgin female prisoners. In this instance, Mesbah-Yazdi went beyond the permissibility issue and described the Allah-sanctioned rewards accorded the rapist-in-the-name-of-Islam:
"If the judgment for the [female] prisoner is execution, then rape before execution brings the interrogator a spiritual reward equivalent to making the mandated Haj pilgrimage [to Mecca], but if there is no execution decreed, then the reward would be equivalent to making a pilgrimage to [the Shi'ite holy city of] Karbala."
One aspect of these permitted rapes troubled certain questioners: What if the female prisoner gets pregnant? Is the child considered illegitimate?
Mesbah-Yazdi answered: "The child borne to any weakling [a denigrating term for women] who is against the Supreme Leader is considered illegitimate, be it a result of rape by her interrogator or through intercourse with her husband, according to the written word in the Koran. However, if the child is raised by the jailer, then the child is considered a legitimate Shi'a Muslim."
Meanwhile, the same devil Ahmadinejad in another live interview with state run radio station said that that any rape or torture of political prisoners in Iranian detention centers in recent months had been carried out by "enemy" agents, not the government."
Recently two prominent members of Iran 's human rights community, the feminist lawyer and journalist Shadi Sadr and the blogger and activist Mojtaba Samienejad, published essays online from inside Iran arguing that far from being a new phenomenon, prison rape has a long history in the Islamic Republic.
In her essay Ms... Sadr wrote:
"Published reports are available about these types of torture committed against women political prisoners after the 1979 Revolution. The most systematic type of reported rape has been the rape of virgin girls who were sentenced to death by execution because of political reasons. They were raped on the night before execution.. These reports have been substantiated by frequent statements from the relatives of women political prisoners. On the day after the execution, authorities returned their daughter's dead body to them along with a sum considered to be the alimony. Reports state that in order to lose their virginity, girls were forced to enter into a temporary marriage with men who were in charge of their prison. Otherwise it was feared that the executed prisoner would go to heaven because she was a virgin!
"It is known beyond a shadow of a doubt, that during the 1980s, the rape of women political prisoners was prevalent. It was so prevalent as to make Ayatollah Montazeri, who was Khomeini's deputy at the time, write the following to Khomeini in a letter dated October 7, 1986: "Did you know that young women are raped in some of the prisons of the Islamic Republic?""
Recently Mr. Samienejad, who was imprisoned in the past for blogging but has managed to avoid detention this year, published a post, in English, headlined, Memories of Prison and Raped Prisoners. Mr. Samienejad's post began:
"The practice of rape on prisoners, brought up by [reformist Mehdi] Karoubi in his letter to [former President Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, has existed for the last three decades in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many prisoners have written about it in their memoirs, and rumors have always existed about the issue... Prisoner rape is one of the most horrific forms of human rights violations in Iran , but not much has been said about it until now, despite its widespread practice. Social stigmas have made people reluctant to discuss the issue, and an admission of the practice would have had grave implications for the Islamic Republic. However the taboo is broken now; Rafsanjani, the second most powerful figure of the regime, has now publicly been informed about rape in prisons. A door has been opened and the issue must now be discussed. I saw and heard about many rape cases during my prison term. With the issue now open for discussion, I want to retrieve from my memories some of the stories and retell them, so we can better know who these rapists are.
In the first of five harrowing memories, Mr. Samienejad writes that during his detention four years ago:
"The terms 'coke bottle' and 'baton' were constantly used by my interrogators, who were threatening to use these objects on me."
Mr. Samienejad also describes his unsuccessful attempt to get prison authorities to accept a letter of complaint he wrote on behalf of another prisoner who appeared to have been raped. He concludes:
"Prison authorities never investigate these cases and do not take them seriously. If I were to write all my memories of such cases I would have to write about many cases. What you just read in this article are only a few examples of what I saw. In my two years of imprisonment, I witnessed and heard about hundreds of cases of rape. I will write about them gradually in the future."
Despite what he says is this first-hand knowledge of brutal abuses by Iranian authorities, Mr. Samienejad contacted The Lede to say that it is important to him that outsiders understand that the blame lies within specific individuals. According to Mr. Samienejad he and other Iranian activists were upset that an editorial about prison rape in New York Times was headlined "Shame On Iran ."
Iranian pro-democracy activist and eminet journalist Shirin Sadeghi wrote in an article: "On Friday June 19, a large group of mourners gathered at the Ghoba mosque in Tehran to await a speech about the martyrs of the post-election protests by presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to one Iranian blog, 28-year-old Taraneh Mousavi was one of a group of people that was arrested by plainclothesed security forces for attending the gathering.
"Taraneh, whose first name is Persian for "song", disappeared into arrest.
"Weeks later, according to the blog, her mother received an anonymous call from a government agent saying that her daughter has been hospitalized in Imam Khomeini Hospital in the city of Karaj, just north of Tehran -- hospitalized for "rupturing of her womb and anus in... an unfortunate accident".
"When Taraneh's family went to the hospital to find her, they were told she was not there.
"According to another Iranian blog which claims to have original information about Taraneh from her family, Iranian security forces contacted Taraneh's family after the hospital visit warning them not to publicize Taraneh's story and not to associate her disappearance with arrests made at post-election protests, claiming instead that she had tried to harm herself because of feeling guilty for having pre-marital sex.
"Witnesses have come forward to the various Internet sites who are covering Taraneh's story, stating that she was mentally and physically abused in Tehran's notorious Evin prison and also that a person who matches her physical description and injuries had been treated at the Imam Khomeini Hospital, was unconscious when witnessed and was later transferred out of the hospital while still unconscious.
"Taraneh's is not the first allegation of brutal raping of a post-election protester -- according to the UK Guardian, an 18 year old boy in Shiraz was repeatedly gang raped by prison officials while in detention after being arrested for participating in the protests on June 15. That boy's father won't let him back in the family home."
Despite its agitations for reform, Iranian society remains traditional, according to Iranian-British blogger Potkin Azarmehr, and it's the stigma of rape that is being used as a weapon against the protesters. "By killing protesters, the government makes martyrs of them, but by raping them and allowing them to live, it makes them shunned in society," Azarmehr said.
Not that the stigma of rape is exclusive to Iran and other more traditional societies. A friend of Azarmehr's who is presently in Iran told him that he's sick of hearing that people like Taraneh are better off dead" from friends abroad, just because they can't handle the fact that she's been raped.
The psychology of threatening protesters and political activists is not a new science. The strategies and ultimate goals are the same for any kind of torture: to humiliate, disembody [through denying the victim authority over his/her own physical self], extract confessions [whether true or false] and ultimately permanently terrorize the victims to prevent further 'disturbances'... The last part often fails spectacularly, as victims tend to feel even more antagonism toward the perpetrators, and even more of a 'do or die' mentality about agitating for change at any cost.
Prison abuse and torture is also about marking these victims as defiled human beings -- it's like a scarlet letter of social isolation against them, to deny them the community support and strength which they need to move past those memories and not be defined by them. This is where others can step in and change the very attitudes toward abuse which so many institutions count on when they commit these crimes.
The story of Taraneh's condition is still unfolding and there are no certain confirmations of its details beyond the reports of bloggers who are obliged to remain anonymous for safety reasons -- but the idea that political prisoners are being mistreated in this way is not new to Iran and is a significant element of a program of terror which has sustained the current system in Iran.
With allegations of sexual assault in prisons brought to the fore in Iran , authorities meet with Mehdi Karroubi, the figure who broached the taboo subject, to look into the claims.
Rapporteur of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Kazem Jalali, who heads a Parliament committee tasked with probing into the death and detention of those arrested in the post-election frenzy, said the board met with the leading opposition figure on August 24, 2009 for examination of evidence provided on alleged jail rape.
The three-hour meeting took place after Karroubi wrote a letter to the influential Head of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, on July 29, claiming that jailers brutally raped post-vote protesters in Iran 's detention centers.
The publication of the letter caused an uproar inside and outside Iran , with many clerics saying that if true, the issue would be a catastrophe for the Islamic Republic.
Jalali told Mehr News Agency that six lawmakers -- including himself, Omidvar Rezaei, Ali Motahhari, Mehdi Sanaie, Parviz Sorouri and Farhad Tajari -- met Karroubi in his office on Monday where he talked about four alleged victims of jailhouse rape at the hands of security personnel.
According to Jalali, the two-time former Majlis speaker will introduce the alleged victims to the probe committee for further investigation.
Karroubi, however, said that while these four victims are ready to testify before Parliament, they do not feel safe to do so.
The head of the Majlis probe committee said it would be scheduled that the four alleged victims speak up about their torment in front of the board.
He added that the committee is also set to hold a meeting on the issue with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and the country's newly-appointed Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani.
Alongside the meeting with the probe committee, Karroubi's party Etemad-e-Melli [National Trust] published a report on its website which made public remarks by an inmate who had allegedly been subject to sexual abuse.
The victim says defeated candidate Karroubi helped him get through difficult times after his dreadful experience and get rid of suicidal thoughts.
The victim adds that he had met with a representative of the former general prosecutor who after listening to his account expressed his sympathy to him, saying "alas" in reaction to the situation.
A 15-year-old boy, Reza, has alleged that he was locked up in Iran 's Basij militia base for 20 days, where he was beaten up, raped repeatedly and subjected to sexual humiliation and abuse.
Reza is so horrified with the incident that he refuses to go outside and is terrified of being left alone.
"My life is over.. I don't think I can ever recover," The Times quoted Reza, as saying.
A doctor who is treating him, has confirmed that he is suicidal, and bears the appalling injuries consistent with his story.
Reza's family is also enduring the pain with him and is exploring ways to flee Iran .
Reza's ordeal began in mid-July, when he was arrested along with 40 other teenagers during an opposition demonstration.
He claimed that the arrested teenagers were taken to the Basij militia base, where they were blindfolded, stripped to their underwear, whipped with cables and then locked in a steel shipping container.
Reza claims that three men on the first night singled him out and pushed him to the ground... He further said that one held his head down, another sat on his back and the third urinated on him efore raping him. [Source: Asian News International].
And here is another disturbing information from Bangladesh , on persecution of religious minorities and forceful conversion of Hindus by influential Muslim thugs. Bangladesh Minority Watch [BDMW] - Dhaka received an appeal from Ajoy Kumar Dey and his wife Mrs. Dolly Rani Dey of 84/1 Nagar Khanpur under Police Station and District – Narayanganj on the allegation that their only minor son –Suvashish Dey  was abducted on 30.07.2009 at about 12-30 p.m. from their house and forcefully converted to Islam. Suvbashis is a meritorious student and he passed Secondary School Certificate and Higher School Certificate examinations with credit. But the police neither assisted to recover their children nor arrested any perpetrators despite specific allegations made to police. [General Diary Entry No. 1713 dated 31.7.2009 filed by Ajoy Kumar Dey]. Ajoy Kumar and Dolly Rani believe that their only son was abducted for forceful conversion by the thugs belonging to Islamic fundamentalists groups.
Both the news on rape inside prison in Iran or forceful conversion in Bangladesh are matters of great concern. The global population favoring peace should raise voice against such atorocious attitude of the Islamist regimes or nations with majority Muslim population before one more male or female prisoner is sexually abused in Iran or another religious minority member is abducted for forceful conversion in Bangladesh .
SALAH UDDIN SHOAIB CHOUDHURY
Journalist, Columnist, Author & Peace Activist
Editor & Publisher, Weekly Blitz www.weeklyblitz.net
Director, FORCEFIELD NFP
PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005; AJC Moral Courage Award 2006
Key to the Englewood City, NJ, USA [Highest Honor] 2007; Monaco Media Award, 2007