Everywhere one goes these days one cannot help falling slowly into the abyss of a conversation about terrorism, its meaning, causes and cures. Most of my fellow American or Americanized Iranians talk of the excessively belligerent rhetoric and naive self-interested stance of our host nation. The usual questions and answers about all the wrongs committed by Americans and Israelis in the region are presented list-like as un-amendable truths.
Catechisms of those of us whose lives, so closely linked with American foreign policy blunders have come to know by heart. America's blind backing of Israel — even under Ariel Sharon's increasingly fascistic administration–, its support of trashy, oil-rich skeikhdoms, and its backing of Saddam in his war against Iran, the creation and support of Taliban in its war against the Soviets, are all used to demonstrate the arrogance and naive diplomacy of the Americans.
I myself, before September 11, would have agreed with them. What Israel has done to the Palestinians is unjustifiable. Israel is an anger-producing factory which on its own can produce more young men willing to die in order to kill than any other nation. But the events of September 11, like most events of this indigestible a proportion have, made me rethink everything.
Here is what I have come to reason. I agree with Ms. Najmabadi's stance that we should stop trying to “explain” these fanatics actions. Nothing justifies killing innocents even if it is done out of justified anger. Enough anthropology please. These are our people. We do not need a model with which to judge them. But there is another reason why I no longer want to try to understand Muslim fanatics or defend them. There is a reason why I do not mind military intervention.
I was born a Muslim. As a Muslim woman I am the foremost victim of these fundamentalist fanatics. They who do not consider me a full witness in a court of law, they who do not think me fit enough to decide for myself if I should travel. They who would whip me for dressing as I would like to, they who, if my husband dies, would take my child away and give her to her paternal uncle, they who stone my sisters and torture my friends. They are my enemy and I, the Muslim woman, their first victim. They terrorize us as a warm-up to world terror. We are their target practice. We are their first victims. By veiling us, by rendering us faceless, by silencing us they define themselves.
By oppressing us they affirm their sense of manhood, their sense of being Muslim which is “threatened” by blue jeans and rock and roll, more than any foreign policy. The women under the Taliban who cannot even study without fear of arrest are not considered citizens. Those women, those Muslim women are victims. Long before the attacks on the World Trade Center, they were robbed of their faces, their identities, their vocations, virtually their very right to exist as humans. Now they will say Iran is not as bad as the Taliban, but I say it is a question of degree not principle.
I know my friends would say, “Well many of these women want to be treated this way.” To them I say if only one of us is forced, then no one is free. You cannot quantify human rights. You either believe in it or not. Women who live under fundamentalist Islamic regimes are deprived of basic human rights. Pure and simple. I mean, how many stonings and whippings and slashings and imprisonments and killings does one need to see before one declares oneself the enemy of these people? To turn a blind eye to these injustices is akin to collaboration.
In my country even with its attempt at democratization, I am still only half a witness. I still need my husband's permission to travel. I am not a full citizen. I can still have the top of my feet slashed if I choose not to wear socks in the summer. I do not need to wear a star, the forced hejab that I have to wear is the loud indicator of my dehumanized status.