Loving, not jailing, our enemies
FILE - In this file handout image taken from a 2003 U.S. Department of Defense surveillance video and provided Tuesday, July 15, 2008 by Omar Khadr's defense lawyers, Khadr is shown in an interrogation room at the Guatanamo U.S. Naval Base prison while being questioned by members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. A decade after Khadr was pulled near death from the rubble of a bombed-out compound in Afghanistan, the Canadian citizen set foot on Canadian soil early Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, after an American military flight from the notorious prison in Guantanamo Bay. Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and was eligible to return to Canada from Guantanamo Bay last October under terms of a plea deal. Canada's conservative government took almost a year to approve the transfer. (AP Photo/U.S. Department of Defense via The Canadian Press, File) Purchase photo reprints »
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney licks an ice cream cone from Bailey's Bubble in Wolfeboro, N.H., Monday, July 2, 2012, as he continues his vacation from the campaign trail. At right is son Ben Romney. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — On Sept. 12, the Gazette provided a brief account of a man from Yemen who, after repeated suicide attempts, was found dead in his cell at the Guantanamo detention center. For over 10 years, he waited to be released because no evidence of any crime, war-related or not, was ever brought forward.
Since he was never charged, but forced to languish for a good part of his entire life in prison, it is safe to say that he was a victim of the past administration’s implicit war on Muslims. After all, George Bush, immediately after the national trauma of 9/11, twice called upon Americans to get behind his “crusade.” Apparently he would have continued doing so, had not his advisers told him to refrain from this violent, incendiary image.
Now, most Westerners see no harm in framing this way the mindless invasion of two nations to capture a rag-tag outfit despised at the time by a vast majority of Islam, including Bin Laden’s country of birth, Saudi Arabia.
However, to Muslims it invoked the 300-year effort by the Holy Roman Empire to eradicate all “heathens” from the land of Jesus’ birth (Jews as well. And remember, he was not only born one, but also life-long practicing). To say the least, this savage era was one of the worst chapters of Christian history, second only to the rampant Inquisition and pogroms of Jews throughout Europe throughout the centuries.
To Muslims as well, history is emotionally present tense. Given this, when they read about the ninth inmate to die while being detained now over the 11-year operation of the base — “Adran Latif, Prisoner #156” — it instantly becomes fuel for the fire of armed zealots who, in their blind rage, look for occasions to attack whatever symbolizes the West, namely embassies.
As long as our spineless Congress, fearing to be cast as soft on terrorists, continues to imprison innocent Muslims, and virtually throw away the key, we are, intentionally or not, fanning the flames of extremists and adding converts thereby defeating our goal to bring to justice all of the leaders of al-Qaida and similar murderous sects.
As long as we continue to take actions that appear to Muslims to be akin to another Crusade (there were nine altogether) and as long as we allow to go scot-free those who blatantly lied to our nation about the reasons for invading and occupying two Muslim countries, we will fan those flames.
It must be noted that a federal judge had ordered the prisoner’s release only to be rejected by the Supreme Court itself.
Entangled in this madness is the release of a shameless film mocking their esteemed prophet, Mohammed, produced by religious extremists whom I refuse to call Christians, because, in so doing, they have mocked the principles of Jesus as well.
His core beliefs in this regard were clear and concise: “You have heard that it was said: ‘Hate your enemies,” but I say love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Moreover, he ordered his followers first of all to “love God ... and your neighbor as yourself.”
Otherwise, are we not also condemning ourselves to a life sentence of hopeless despair, together with its consequences.
The Rev. Peter Kakos is minister of the First Church Hatfield and the former minister of the Edwards Church in Northampton.