Of course, hostage-taking is completely against Islam, but 93% of Muslims support it. I suppose now we are to believe that Muslims have failed so utterly to instruct their children in their faith that they have almost all picked up a violent, Orientalist caricature of the real thing? The taqiyya (religious deception, sanctioned by Qur’an 3:28 and 16:106) gets harder and harder to maintain. From the BBC, which fixes a headline to the story that is completely belied by its own poll results : “Arabs ambivalent over hostage crisis.” Opposition to the hostage-taking seems confined only to those who think it hurts Islam’s image. No one seems particularly concerned about the hostages themselves.
In a phone poll 93% supported the kidnappings.
A little later – after the beheading of the second American hostage – an Iraqi religious leader told al-Jazeera that the foreign hostages were capturing the world’s attention at the expense of the Iraqi people’s suffering.
In the Arab media, naturally enough, this order is reversed – with the plight of Iraqis and Palestinians overshadowing that of the hostages.
But this is not to say that the Arab satellite channels have ignored the human impact of the story – the hostages’ relatives appeared live on al-Jazeera, hoping to convey their pleas for mercy directly to the kidnappers.
The Arab press has also, in the past, condemned Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a thug who perverts Islam.
But there has not been the same outcry as when two French journalists were taken hostage and their kidnappers demanded that France rescind its ban on Islamic headscarves in schools.
Then, many Arab commentators warned that the kidnappers’ actions could irrevocably tarnish the image of Islam and the Arab world.
This time, the kidnappers’ demands are limited to Iraq, whose political and security problems remain the focus of Arab attention rather than the fate of Western hostages.