Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR)


ACPR Research – Summary


Palestinian Women and Children
in the Throes of Islamikaze Terrorism

Raphael Israeli

Policy Paper No. 139, 2002


Even prior to September 11, and certainly much more so thereafter, Muslim clerics such as radical Sheikh Qaradhawi, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar Muhammad Tantawi, and Sheikh `Akrama Sabri, the hand-picked Mufti of the Palestinian Authority, and many others who took up residence in the West, such as Sheikhs al-Bakri and al-Masri who settled in London, pronounced themselves in favor of the Islamikaze killings for the sake of Islam, especially against Israelis. Tantawi is perhaps the most duplicitous among them, for unlike others, who have been either clearly for (and this is the majority of those who articulated their thinking) or emphatically against, Tantawi has shown both by first attending the Alexandria Interfaith Conference in early 2002, where those acts of terror were denounced, but then his position constantly eroded. He came first to justify the Wafa Idris act of terror; the first perpetrated by a Palestinian woman, and then accepted in fact the indiscriminate attacks against civilians as legal. His position is particularly sensitive because while he responds to the Egyptian establishment and has to toe the official anti-terrorist line espoused by his government which appointed him, he is also in a responsible and prestigious enough location to heed the popular resentment of the masses against the US and Israel.

The involvement of women, first as victims of terror and then as its progenitors, was brought up by Syrian-born Sheikh `Umar al-Bakri, who took refuge in London and advocated at some point that “all homosexuals there ought to throw themselves down from the Big Ben,” called the British MPs “monkeys”, and vowed that the flag of Islam would “fly high on 10 Downing Street and at the Elysee”. He justified and defended the September 11 New York and Washington horrors, which for him came as a “compensation for the atrocities the US had committed against Islam”, and exhorted Muslims to unite and fight, sacrifice themselves and their wealth in order to gain access to Paradise and to make the difference between “truth and falsehood, belief and heresy, oppressors and oppressed, the alliance of Satan against the Alliance of Allah”. After the American attack against Afghanistan was launched, he issued a fatwa against Pakistani President Musharraf and other Muslim leaders who let their territory be used by Americans against a fellow Muslim state. In that verdict, for what it is worth, he raised, inter alia, many aspects of the status of women in Islam and in general, in the context of what we call terrorism and he insists on dubbing jihad. For him, the Muslims who collaborated with the US were murtaddun (apostates), if “at all they were Muslims to start with”, and since they are involved in the war against Muslims, the sentence of murtadd harbi (an apostate who should be fought) applies to them, to wit:

  1. His life is free prey [it is permissible to kill him],

  2. His marriage becomes invalid, as does his guardianship of his children and relatives,

  3. His property is free prey and he will not be able to bequeath it,

  4. He cannot be buried in a Muslim cemetery,

  5. He must be treated with animosity and hatred...,

  6. There is no difference between a man and a woman... It is permissible to shed the blood of a woman who is a heretic (harbiyya), even if her fighting is limited to singing... Thus acted the Prophet against the fighting women of the Qureish tribe. He permitted their blood to be spilled and even ordered them killed, although he generally prohibited killing women.

This verdict, which allowed the killing of Muslim women under certain circumstances, appeared under the emblem of “The Shari`ah Court of the United Kingdom”, and was signed jointly by al-Bakri himself, under his title of “Shari`ah Court Judge in London”, and Muhammad al-Musa`ari, the Secretary General of the Committee for Protection of Legitimate Rights in Saudi Arabia, which lends to it authority and respectability. Its English version, however, was slightly different and signed by “Muslim Jurists from Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom”, with the names of the original two signatories, al-Bakri and al-Musa`ari, appearing at the bottom, with their phone numbers for further inquiries. In this version, the Qur`anic verse was added which threatened that the punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet and strive to make mischief in the land, is only this – that they should be murdered or crucified, or their hands and feet should be cut off on opposing sides, or they should be imprisoned.

And the section about the women of Qureish who were killed by the Prophet, was replaced by a paragraph that reads:

Therefore we ask Muslims with the capability, especially the armies of Muslim countries, to move quickly and to capture those apostates and criminals involved in these crimes, especially the ruler of Pakistan, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and Rabbani of Afghanistan.

The exposure of women to harrowing physical mutilation, on authority of the precedent set by the Prophet, though it was concealed in the English version, where women were omitted from those horrors, together with the determination to dissolve marriages of “apostate” men, naturally had an impact on the developing debate on the active participation of Muslim women (and by extension also children), in the Islamikaze attacks as actors, or on suffering the consequences thereof as passive spectators. For once the taboo was lifted on involving women (and children) in the course of Muslim violence during this brand of jihad, or in the hardships that resulted, no obstacles could be envisaged any longer for exempting them from taking part in that struggle. Here, we shall focus on Palestinian women and children, because their people, who have been engaged in a murderous battle against Israel, have become the chief model of Islamikaze in the Muslim world. The Palestinians have emerged in effect, not only as the most active agents in the implementation of the idea, but have also widened the circle of its membership beyond the few self-sacrificing radicals, into a legitimate national form of struggle in which women and children have taken the initiative, or were led, to partake. Unlike al-Bakri and al-Masri’s fantasies where they articulate their wishful thinking to confront the world, bring down the West, kindle a world Islamic revolution and subvert their Western countries of exile from within, Palestinian clerics are unified by the theme of what they perceive as a concrete, daily and all-pervasive national struggle to which they are pushed to provide theological responses. And once they sanctified Islamikaze as a legitimate form of struggle, indeed encouraged it, they could not exclude women and children from it, nor refute them when they pressed for participation. Other Muslim clerics were also dragged into the debate, but let us first focus on the Palestinian clerics’ stated positions on Islamikaze, which by necessity generated the inclusion, first of individuals who did not belong to the Islamists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but were members of the avowedly “secular” Fatah and al-Aqsa Brigades, followed by women and then children, in those horrendous acts of terror.

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