Melbourne’s Fairfax daily The Age ran with this front page story on Saturday
“On the last day of his short life, 10 year old Sami had something important to say to his friend “This will be the last time I see you.” the boy said. “I have a feeling I will die.”
Sami was Shiite and therefore, under the iron rules of Islamic State, considered apostate, a crime punishable by death.
That afternoon, a group of IS fighters came to the boys’ primary school on the outskirts of the city of Mosul (in Iraq). They knocked on the door of every classroom. “Let them come out. We’ll teach them a lesson.” the militants told teachers.
Outside in the schoolyard, the men held Sami as the rest of the school watched.
“Then my friend got really sad. He was all alone.” Hussein remembers. One of the men raised his sword and hacked off Sami’s head. “They told us to learn like this. This is the way to cut people’s heads off.” Hussein says.
“I thought, ‘My poor friend’. We took his body. One of my friends carried his head and I carried his body. We threw him on the garbage pile.”
This is powerful journalism. Not what you expect to read on a Saturday morning.
We are sometimes shocked by the depths of man’s inhumanity towards man… but should we be?
Is it a true story? One must always be sceptical. But I have read many accounts, from different sources, and they confirm the barbarity of ISIS in Iraq. I suspect there is some licence in this report but the essential facts are true.
What makes it gut-wrenching is that this happened to a 10 year old child. What does a child know about religion? How is killing a child and traumatising his friends advance any cause?
Imagine the terror of the teachers when they heard the militants knock on their doors. Imagine their emotions as they released their classes into the hands of butchers, where harm, if not death was certain.
Yet the teachers’ terror could not compare to the fear of the children, particularly the Shiite children.
What justifies the terrorising and then killing of children?
Only a coward kills children in this manner. There is nothing brave or honourable in targeting defenceless and powerless children.
Why are Muslims divided?
Sunnis and Shiites have more in common than divides them. They both follow the teachings of the Qur’an, they both obey the Five Pillars of Islam, they both revere the same holy cities and have the same holy days.
About 80% of the world’s Muslim population is Sunni. While the remaining Muslims are Shiite, they have a significant presence in Iraq.
The issues in Iraq are unique and brought about largely by the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The reconstruction of Iraq under US influence has created issues in Iraqi society that have encouraged groups like Islamic State.
But for many centuries the different Muslim sects have co-existed in relative peace.
Each religion is guilty of atrocities. We should not view this as an act by Muslims but rather an act by extremists.
Cowardly terrorists .
Most Muslims, Sunni and Shiite alike, would be appalled to learn of these heinous crimes committed in the name of Islam.
Does not the Qu’ran say
“[Quran 17:31] You shall not kill your children due to fear of poverty. We provide for them, as well as for you. Killing them is a gross offense.”
We should not let the conduct of a few affect our views of the many.
On a separate subject, closer to home.
How can our government decline asylum to those fleeing ISIS? How can we justify indefinite detention for these people? We know that there are several children in detention. Do they not deserve better?
These tragic events have happened half a world away but Australia is not immune from their impact. We can help ease the suffering of these people but we choose not to.