For those who haven’t seen the wrenching video of Iraq’s Ayazidi MP, Vian Dakheel, pleading for Parliament to intervene to stop the genocide of her people by ISIS, you can find it on Youtube here. But a couple of things deserved comment. First, the manner in which the Speaker, Selim al-Jibouri, kept interrupting and asking her to stick to some sort of prepared statement.
Selim is a friend, so I am certain he had the best of intentions, no doubt spending much of his time curbing the many demagogues in the Iraqi parliament with their exaggerated sense of self importance from bloviating endlessly to no discernible end. (Muhammad Naji, looking at you. We’ve got more important things to worry about than demanding that Israel apologize for bombing a nuclear reactor thirty damn years ago. That’s not even on the top ten things I’d ask Israel to apologize for right now anyway.) Moreover, as I understand it, the point of her speaking at first was to read some sort of prepared statement that expressed the will of the Parliament, rather than an MP expressing an opinion in the Parliament, and that’s what it seems the Speaker was trying to get the MP to do.
That said, I think an unwritten rule of parliamentary procedure should be that when your people are, at the moment of your speaking, being subjected to genocide, you get cut a little slack. Someone else can read the damn statement later, it’s not important anyway. I haven’t heard it, but I know what it says. Strongly condemn unIslamic genocide insult to our faith stand with Ayazidi people call on government to take all necessary measures blah blah blah useless useless useless, no kid starving in the mountains gives a crap about your strong condemnation. Her impassioned and desperate plea was far more effective–not in getting Parliament to do anything, its ostensible purpose. No real chance of that. But it worked remarkably well in bringing attention to the efforts of a group of merciless fanatics to destroy a people in its entirety.
The second thought was that apparently, if the Speaker is to be believed, the part of the unscripted remarks that caused the kerfuffle was her statement that her people were being butchered under the banner “There is no god but God”, the first part of the Muslim testament of faith. And I’ve heard a few of my fellow Muslims on Twitter say that she went “too far” in saying that. First, see previous paragraph. But second, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what she said that’s so offensive. Ayazidis ARE being killed under the banner There is no god but God. That’s on the flag (the banner) of ISIS, anyone who knows which way is up when given a sheet of Arabic can see it right there. Banner flies, kids of this other religion being killed. How is denying that fact going to somehow preserve the image of Islam? We aren’t going to stop bad things from happening in the name of Islam by denying that bad things are happening in the name of Islam. That’s just sticking our collective head in the sand. Let’s unpack the doctrine, describe it, explain where ISIS exploits and manipulates the tradition to pursue political and ideological ends which we as Iraqis and as Muslims find deeply, morally offensive (and yes, also discuss ways we can use that tradition to pursue ends altogether more salutary) and proceed that way. But for God’s sake, they are killing people indiscriminately under a banner carrying the Muslim testament of faith. We have to admit that when we begin the conversation.
I think that’s what she was trying to get us to do by saying what she said. In other words, “It’s your faith, and these people have come in, claiming your faith, held up a banner, with your core testament of faith, that there is no god but Him, and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and this is what they are doing. Do something to stop them.” I can’t imagine she was intending to walk into a body which is 95% Muslim and say “your faith commands you kill everyone who doesn’t agree with you. I have proof, see these people being killed by these people who represent the true face of your faith.” If she believed that, she wouldn’t be in the Iraqi parliament. She’d be blogging somewhere in Tennessee or Oklahoma or something.