The sexual humiliation of Muslims in the War on Terror
وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَىٰ ۖإِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا
And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (17:32)
Sex in Islam is a matter that carries with it a great deal of modesty and shame – the above verse indicates the clear and unequivocal ban on extramarital relations.
It is considered a private matter between a husband and his wife, whether it is in a monogamous or polygynous relationship. Indeed, covering oneself to maintain a minimum level of dignity even when alone is recommended according to the shari’ah (Islamic law).
As part of the psyche of Muslim communities around the world, they respond to sexuality and references to sexuality based on the societies they have grown up in and the extent of conservatism within their communities. For Muslims living in the Western world, overexposure to images of sex and nakedness in order to sell objects, is commonplace, thus having a desensitising impact on their psyche, however much they may dislike what they see. For those living in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, such images are far less commonplace, in fact non-existent, resulting in a greater degree of sensitivity.
On 4 April 2012, the Zelikow torture memo (previously thought to be destroyed) was released, which effectively confirmed that years after criticism of the way in which torture has been systematically used, that enforced nudity is still to be considered an acceptable practice in interrogations,
“The control conditions, such as nudity, sleep deprivation, and liquid diet, may also be sustainable, depending on the circumstances and details of how these techniques are used.”
The Tipton Three (Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed) were amongst the first to detail the forms of sexual humiliation that detainees in Guantanamo were suffering. Shafiq Rasul described a cavity search that was conducted on him soon after his arrival in Guantanamo as being, “both painful and humiliating.” However, the shame that was associated with such acts resulted in the slow acceptance that this was taking place,
“We didn’t hear anybody talking about being sexually humiliated or subjected to sexual provocation before General Miller came. After that we did.
Although sexual provocation, molestation did not happen to us, we are sure that it happened to others. It did not come about at first that people came back and told about it. They didn’t.
What happened was that one detainee came back from interrogation crying and confiding in another what had happened. That detainee in turn thought that it was so shocking he told others and then other detainees revealed that it had happened to them but they had been too ashamed to admit it.”
In their statement, the men highlighted the case of one of the Algerians, one of whom was treated to a particularly horrific incident,
“We were told by one Algerian (not one of the Bosnian Algerians) that he had been taken to interrogation and been forced to stand naked. He also told us he had been forced to watch a video supposedly showing two detainees dressed in orange, one sodomising the other and was told that it would happen to him if he didn’t cooperate.” Read the rest of this entry »