Beheading in the Qur’an

james-foley-isis A brutal act of inhumanity has spread like wildfire throughout terrorist organisations such as ISIS and Boko Haram. Images of western journalists kneeling in front of masked Jihads has become an all too common image in our headlines, its sad how it has become almost normal for us too see another man about to be decapitated.

Used as a form of bragging and propaganda, the harsh images are supposed to strike fear into the minds of everybody who opposes them. British and American media continue to report the barbaric act, fuelling the terrorists ambitions. But why do they behead? The men recently seen in Islamic State videos are reportedly grown in Britain and the US, so how have they got the nerve? Bought up in a civilised society, when did they become so psychotic? They must be victims of extreme brainwashing techniques and genuinely believe what they are being told, they must have no doubt.

Beheading was a internationally used form of punishment many years ago but was abandoned by all except very few. It is still a legal form of execution in Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, however, Saudi Arabia are the only country where the method is still used. Amnesty international reportedly counted 73 executions in Saudi in 2013, a majority of which were public be-headings.

Using be-headings as a form of capital punishment is very different to how the Islamic state militants we see use it. They claim there use of the callous technique is justified, they claim they are following the words of Allah, and in a round about sort of way they are. There are many different interpretations of the Qur’an, one Muslim may interpret it different from another, perhaps one more extreme then the other. Surat Muhammad, the 47th Sura of the Qur’an says “When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly.” or a different translation reads “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks.”

Having read these two passages, to me they sound violent, however many scholars think they are simply just translated out of context. One may interpret them different to another and those who adopt a more violent view of Islam will see this as justification for beheading.

One of the first modern instances of using beheading as an act of terrorism was in the First Chechen War when Yevgeny Rodionov was executed for refusing to convert to Islam after being abducted. It is now commonly used by Islamic extremists all over the middle east. I suspect that the real reason organisations so widely known to us all such as ISIS carry out be-headings is to install fear into us, and the people who wish to fight them. If a Kurdish fighter, who is not particularly well paid, learns that his fate may be decapitation, then perhaps he might be discouraged to fight. Fear is a powerful weapon. The Islamic state knows every video will be put onto Western Headlines, and this is why they will continue to do it. The way they film there be-headings for all of us to see says a lot about the reasons why they do it. Propaganda for future potential Islamic state militants and scaremongering for westerners.

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The western destruction of Libya

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February of 2011, Fathi Tarbel, a Libyan human rights campaigner was violently arrested in his home, in front of his wife and children, who were given no explanation as to the reasons behind his arrest, by armed men who identified themselves as Interior Security. When Abdullah Senussi, Intelligence chief, and brother in law of  Muammar Gaddafi, ordered his arrest, he sparked unrest throughout Libya, leading to the end of Col. Gaddafi’s controversial, merciless 42 year regime.

A country raised without experience of unity, where society and army were both kept weak, knew nothing of how to react as a vicious uprising took hold, breeding countless militia factions, all fighting for a similar cause.

However, having lived in a country where teamwork had always been discouraged, they failed to join together to create a larger single force, this caused problems as various different militant groups contributed towards the eventual destruction of the regime, some paid a higher price then others nonetheless they all claimed right towards leadership, and once power had been gained by gun, it proved difficult to put it down.

New York Times Staff Photographer Tyler Hicks Released From Libya

The only thing these numerous militant groups had in common was there animosity towards Col. Gaddafi, however, they were divided by dissimilar ideologies, religious, regional and ethnic.

 So where did NATO step in?

With Col. Gaddafi and his government having previously been visited five or six times by western leaders from 2004-2009, being affably assured that relations between countries were, and are to remain, comfortable and that they are happy with the progress Libya has made, with its literacy rate increasing to over 94% and the WHO noting its life expectancy steadily rising to above 70. Where did it all go wrong? Why did the Western leaders retract on there words? OIL.

Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell had a deal in place worth over £500 million for gas exploration rights off the coast of Libya, an area thought to be hugely oil rich. Various other oil companies including, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil Corporation, Hess Company and ConocoPhillips all had there hands in Libya’s oil pie, being the ninth largest oil reserve in the world. So surely co-operation from western governments was a given? Yes it was, until January of 2011 when Gaddafi stated his country were looking into nationalising foreign companies, due to decreasing oil prices. He wanted control of the oil saying that it should be owned by the state, in order in have power of increasing or decreasing oil prices and to control flow.

Then in February, almost immediately after the hint of Nationalisation of Libya’s oil resources, sparked by an arrest the uprising began, and soon after on March 17th the United Nations formed a no fly zone above Libya, this was the start of NATO’s involvement.

Two days after the no fly zone was established, NATO started air strikes, which continued for seven months. During this time there were numerous civilian casualties including those of Gaddafi’s closest family, to which the pentagon denied all knowledge of. All this was disguised under the pretext that they were “taking all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country” however in my opinion it seems that NATO and it allies and the governments that run NATO did not want nationalisation of Libya’s oil resources, and done all that they can,  under any disguise needed, to stop it.

Military Committee Meetings - MCCS

October 2011, after a 7 month UN authorised air campaign, there was a messy regime change and a brutal man evicted from power. Propaganda fed Western Civilisations saw the intervention as a success. The civilians of Libya had been saved.

Almost immediately after the campaign was over and western leaders got what they wanted, Libya was abandoned. Left to fend for itself, after a short time a new government was formed, which had control over Tripoli, and that was about it. Libya became a country without a leader. Breeding ground for militant groups such as Isis. The various different militant groups who helped towards the overthrow before and during the NATO Campaign, all wanted to fill the power gap. Different towns and cities were run by opposing militant groups, suddenly Gaddafi’s Libya didn’t seem so bad?

Now a country without direction, bordering on a civil war, Libya has huge internal affairs and has become a foundation for extremist militant groups to develop. Libya has begun to disintegrate and the fault lies solely with greedy oil hungry Western governments. You could even go as far as saying that NATO created the conditions in order for ISIS to flourish.

From Syria to the UK – The long way round.

As a country is torn apart by a ferocious civil war, so complex with little chance of cessation, its people run. Approximately 3 million Syrians have fled their own country, their own identity, in search of a safer life, a life without the day to day fear that today may be their last. A huge majority of these have made a small but significant journey to bordering Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq.

Meanwhile, over 140-150 thousand Syrians have chosen to take the deadly journey into Europe. Their first and probably the most challenging task is crossing the Mediterranean sea. The crossing has proved to be hugely fatal with over 3000 migrants losing their lives in 2014, this figure may well be much higher if the governments surrounding the Mediterranean actually decided to document and keep track of there deaths. Many Syrian refugees fall into the hands of money thirsty people smugglers, taking the perilous journey on dilapidated old boats, the refugees are feeding an immoral, shameless trade threatening the lives of so many, but with little choice, they continue.

The majority of those who survive crossing the sea, enter into Italy under the cover of darkness, or, on an Italian coastguard ship after being rescued. Now in Italy with nothing but themselves and their closest family they begin their quest into prosperous Northern Europe. For many their journey gets cut short as they struggle to find the means to exit out of Italy, finding themselves trapped, living illegally, avoiding authority.

By law an asylum seeker is required to claim asylum in the first European country they step foot in, for most this is Italy. If the refugees make it into Italy undetected they will do all they can to avoid detection by the police in order to prevent their fingerprints being recorded, the reason being is Italy doesn’t have a great deal to offer them , their economy is on the demise and recession lingers, benefits for migrants are paltry.

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By hook or by crook and with some help from selfless Italians, begging on the streets or any other means necessary, they manage to raise the pennies needed to get to Milan. It takes time, a lot of it, patience and some brute will power and determination to carry on but eventually they will make it. Most heading for Germany and Sweden due to the generous hand outs, but some, probably because of its reputation, will do everything they can, in order to get to the UK, risking their lives over and over again in utter desperation.

Perhaps we are taking the wrong approach here in the UK, put yourselves in their shoes. These humans, and yes that’s what they are, humans, equal in every way to you and I, have made this colossal journey, and on the last hurdle they meet one of their biggest struggles, breaching Britain’s border. An estimated 30,000 Syrians are endangering themselves every day, so desperately trying to hide themselves in the back of, or underneath, lorries heading into the UK. If they are lucky enough to get onto a lorry undetected, they must then get through four tier security, including canines and heartbeat monitors before that lorry will board the ferry. An estimated 20-30 make it everyday.

Migrants, lorry, Calais

In the wake of the largest and most colossal humanitarian crisis the world has seen in decades our governments refuse to step up. These people so determined, so desperate, full of fear with nowhere to go, nowhere they feel safe and nowhere they can call home need help. They need our help, they need our governments help, they need an international response to a crisis that should, in the 21st century, be an unimaginable and completely avoidable situation.