From the AP: “Thirty Muslims walked off the job at a Dell Inc. plant after alleging the company refused to let them pray at sunset.”
Hopefully, this is one of those quarrels involving foreign cultural and religious traditions that American democracy somehow always works out in the end–like the minor dust-up in New York last year over a Sikh traffic cop who fought for, and won, his right to wear a turban on duty.
Still, the salat imbroglio brings a couple of questions to mind: Muslims have been working in this nation–and presumably at Dell–for years without insisting on their right to pray five times a day. Why now, all of a sudden?
Secondly, in my journeys through Iraq, Iran and Jordan–not to mention a quarter century spent in this multi-ethnic stew called New York–I’ve never seen Muslims suddenly cease their activities and set to praying. I’ve seen stores in Muslim nations temporarily close (even as customers inside continued shopping) and restaurants respectfully turn down the house music as the muezzin called to believers–and I’ve witnessed worshipers enter mosques for mid-day devotions. But see people on the street or at working stop what they’re doing in order to observe mandatory prayer time? Never. I’m sure it happens. Maybe someone can enlighten me on this point, because I find it curious that Dell employees seem to want to behave with–shall we say–uncommon scrupulousness. Converts, I wonder?
The Shias’ Christian virtues
He who did this is a criminal. He killed Muslims and wanted to ignite sectarian strife. But God willing, we’ll not allow that.
— Ibrahim Moussa, speaking from his hospital bed after being wounded by a recent suicide bombing of a Shiite funeral in Mosul. The attack killed Mr. Moussa’s brother.
(Sindbad Ahmed, Associated Press)
According to press reports, fascist “insurgents” are targeting Shia funerals, increasingly preventing these Iraqis from assembling in large family groups to bid the departed final respects. During Saddam’s reign, the Baathists would frequently execute people, and forbid surviving family members from ever visiting their graves. Today, these same psycopaths are inflicting a similar form of evil that does not stop with murdering the innocent, but seeks to deny the living the ability to mourn their dead.
With this in mind, it is astonishing how few calls for vengeance–or actual reprisals–have arisen from the Shia community. Many observers–myself included–perceived Arab culture as so sunk in traditions of honor and revenge that such restraint seemed unlikely, if not impossible. So far, it seems, we have been wrong–and I, for one, am quite happy to be in error. The steadying influence of Ayatollah Sistani has much to do with the Shias’ patience–one reason why I support his nomination for the Noble Peace Prize.
However, humans can only endure so much; Mr. Ahmed does quote a less conciliatory Iraqi, Sher Qassim Mohammed Ali.
I lost seven of my sons, brothers and cousins. I want to know who carried out this attack … we will avenge those who did it.
Such grief is incomprehensible. As is the evil of the men who inflict it. As is the Shias’ forbearance as they turn the other cheek to receive these blows again and again and again.
Seems not everyone agrees with my support for the “Old Scarecrow.”
Here’s some news from a different sort of Arab “street” you don’t often hear about. Perhaps that’s the best reason for democratic reforms–they will make you rich.
It’s a few days old, but here’s a story on the Kuwaiti demonstration for women’s rights. Scroll down for yet another example of the MSM passing up no opportunity to run a photo of some Middle Eastern “hottie.” No complaints here.
Good news from Egypt: politician Ayam Nour is free–until his trial, at least. Not that American pressure had anything to do with this. No, of course not.
Posted by Steven Vincent