You Should Be Humiliated

Using the "humiliation" claim to avoid the truth.

Fred Taub, Boycott Watch

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One recurring theme among Palestinians complaining about Israel is the phrase, "You are humiliating me," which has been used as a justification for terrorist murder. The claim is largely laughed at by non-Muslims because of its blatant absurdity. Yet, that very claim was recently used on Fox News by Hizbullah supporter Imam Husham Al-Husainy, the Dearborn, Michigan imam who delivered an invocation at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting of 2007. At the time, he called for the end of "oppression and occupation," presumably referring to the US.

The Al-Husainy statement raised many eyebrows in the US, and the heat was turned up by conservative columnist and Detroit-area native Debbie Schlussel. Shlussel went undercover to several radical Islamic events in Dearborn, risking her life in the process.

When interviewed about his DNC statement by Fox News host Sean Hannity, Al-Husainy was asked if he felt Hizbullah is a terrorist organization. In response, Al-Husainy pulled out the humiliation card to deflect a question for which a truthful answer would not be in his best interest. This is significant because the "humiliation" claim is now being used outside of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas; so, perhaps it is a good time to look at the claim a little closer.

From the Islamic standpoint, there are no prohibitions regarding humiliating statements. Rather, there is a cultural superiority complex. The Muslim world feels superiority over all other religions and that Arabic is the Divine language. Thus, all other people are inferior and infidels. As part of this, they feel that non-believers do not have the right to question or contradict them. Moreover, by questioning an imam publicly, the infidel is humiliating the imam by challenging the imam’s authority.

The humiliation and authority factor is not limited to non-Muslims. While a Muslim may ask questions to learn from an imam, he may not question the imam’s authority or criticize the Koran without expecting physical retribution. Non-Muslims, for example, may be criticized for non-flattering comments about the Bible, yet people like Salman Rushdie have had their life threatened for criticizing - or as Muslims say, "humiliating" - Islam and the Koran.

The humiliation factor is more than just a complaint.

The reaction by Al-Husainy is indicative of Muslim religious leaders in non-Muslim countries who do not respect the cultural values of their host country. While a dinner host, for example, may accommodate the needs of the guest, the host does not adapt to the guest. A respectful guest will gracefully adapt to the customs of the host. Recently, Imam Fawaz Damra was deported from the US for, in essence, wearing out his welcome.

One thing is for certain though. There is nothing wrong with asking a question to better understand someone’s stance on issues, which is what Sean Hannity did. Considering Al-Husainy’s immediate claim of humiliation, one must conclude that the actual humiliation of Al-Husainy would be achieved in the answer he refused to give. I say, if one does not want to be humiliated, one should not adopt humiliating stances.

Yasser Arafat, too, used the humiliation claim, but not in the US. Arafat once stated "[Israeli Prime Minister] Barak tried and failed to assassinate me... he is humiliating me." Similar complaints were lobbed against US troops in Iraq for using Israeli-made bullets. That complaint was not for killing terrorists, but rather that shooting at terrorists using Israeli bullets was humiliating.

Placed in perspective, these statements have an entirely new meaning. Arafat’s complaint against Barak was actually that Barak, as a non-Muslim, did not have the stature to kill him. Similarly with the Israeli bullets - the complaint was against the US for using bullets that, in Arab Muslim eyes, have no right to kill Muslims. Their use was, therefore, humiliating.

It is important to understand the humiliation factor as more than just a complaint. It is, in reality, an insult levied by Muslims against those they call infidels and who, therefore, have no right to question them.

If I am ever told, "You are humiliating me," I will stand for my own dignity and I will simply respond: "You should be humiliated, because you and your religion are not superior to me or mine."

© Fred Taub, 2007