The New York Times recently brought the sexual enslavement of members of a minority religious sect in ISIS territory to the world’s attention. It is undisputed that prepubescent girls are being captured and sold as sex slaves to ISIS fighters. We realize many of our readers won’t be able to finish reading the story, but read as much as you can. It’s appalling and has few parallels in the 21st century. The activity certainly touches the lives or hearts of many children in the US.
“I kept telling him it hurts—please stop,” one girl, whose body was so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands, explained to the Times. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.
Rape has become as much a part of ISIS theology and practice—which in my opinion doesn’t resemble any Islam theology that has been seen in the world, perhaps since the time of Muhammed—as any actual passage from the Quran has become. Women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority are specifically mentioned in the radical Islamic group’s documents.
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred. —CS Lewis
The world has, by most accounts, more than 1.5 billion Muslims, and the vast majority don’t actually believe, as ISIS warriors do, that Islam condones and encourages this kind of rape or slavery. Christians also used Bible passages to justify the enslavement of blacks in the US and the killing of millions of Jews in the Holocaust, but as I said, there are no 21st-century parallels to the horrors of ISIS. As a Christian, I don’t want to be lumped in with the likes of Hitler just because he had poor reading comprehension of the Bible and was unable, in his zealotry, to understand the true theme of slavery in scripture. I imagine more than 1.5 billion Muslims feel the same way about ISIS.
The fact that ISIS is a minority among the world’s Muslims, however, doesn’t nullify what they’re doing, which I believe should be prosecuted as a war crime. See the trial of Dragoljub Kunarac in Yugoslavia, which established a precedent for prosecuting those who use rape as a weapon of war.
Under ISIS rule, young men see themselves as warriors for God. Driven mad by sexual repression and centuries of misinformation, they have found a way to get God’s “permission” to have sex, using the Quran. This evil, done in God’s name, is first a crime (rape) and then blasphemy (the rationalization through selected passages from the Quran). I know, however, that if religion weren’t at the heart of their justification, another part of our world would be called upon to rationalize the rape of young girls. The crime would be the same, but the rationalization for committing the crime would usurp some other non-authoritative source.