The bigoted 'Ghost Killer' of Reem Island
To have an Emirati woman kill an American teacher in Abu Dhabi, just for her Western appearance, is not a reaction against unjust US policies in the region. It is merely an ugly crime, which reflects the serious distortion in consciousness which is the result of the spread of extremism and bigotry in the name of religion.
The gruesome murder, perpetrated by a fully veiled woman (thus dubbed by the media "The Ghost"), at the popular Reem Island shopping centre shocked Abu Dhabi and beyond.
The woman was betrayed by the CCTV cameras that caught her walking into the mall and entering the ladies bathroom. The footage shows the trail of blood she left behind, and there is one particularly harrowing image of her wielding a large kitchen knife.
If the reports are correct - that the murderer was influenced by extremist videos and had no formal connections with any "radical organisation" - the attack could indicate a greater danger.
She could have been a tool for a member of the Islamic State (IS) group or any similar organisation, but acting alone reflects an extremist mentality that criminalises the "other" and makes it halal ["permissible"] or "morally justifiable" to kill him, in a language disguised by religion. This mentality has become part of a broader culture than we had believed.
|Footage of the crime scene and the raid on the suspect's home
released by Abu Dhabi police was accompanied by a dramatic,
sinister soundtrack [Video: Abu Dhabi Police]
Many reactions, on many websites, carry within them a tacit acceptance of the crime by a significant section of society, which condones, in some way, this type of action. Killing an American, a Western or non-Western foreigner, an Arab Christian, a Kurd, a Yazidi, or even an Arab Muslim, could all be subject to the logic of the IS group, because they are all justified crimes against those they describe as the "other".
It is unacceptable to denounce the uproar caused by this crime in Abu Dhabi by saying that more attention was given to the American murder victim than would have been given to a Muslim victim. This matter is not related to the West's position towards us. It is related to our human and moral stance towards ourselves, our society, the future of the Arab world, and our message to the next generation.
I don't know what went on in the murderer's mind to commit this act. I wish I did. However, I see how people are influenced and the exclusionary mentality on social media and even in published articles.
They support IS or the growing movement that sees the "victory and predominance of Muslims" to be conditional on the establishment of an "Islamic rule" much the same as IS. Such groups seek to deny those seen by them as infidels - and therefore lower in value and importance - their rights and even the right to life; they classify them as an existential enemy.
|Being progressive means having faith in humanity and not spreading psychopathic ideas.|
It is unacceptable for such crimes to be justified as a reaction to Israeli or US crimes. This is a nihilistic and criminal way of thinking, as resistance to colonialism and oppression needs a liberal mentality, not fanaticism and criminality.
Being progressive means having faith in humanity and not spreading psychopathic ideas - ideas that create a generation of murderers, rather than a generation of freedom fighters.
To reach a conclusion in our minds that a Westerner in our country is a legitimate target for killing in the name of religion or any cause - from Palestine to Iraq, or in the name of the victims of drones in Yemen - harms the struggle, the resistance and the victims of injustice, occupation and US-led wars.
Let us not fool ourselves that this is done to avenge them. Any similar action is an ugly and coldblooded crime.
What offence did an American schoolteacher who felt safe in an Arab society commit? What happened to our adages on Arab generosity and protecting a guest? Pointing to racism towards Arabs and Muslims in America and Europe is also an unacceptable logic. Is disseminating racism in our societies the solution? Confronting racism is done with the struggle for human equality, or else we'd merely become campaigners of a criminal message.
Believing in just causes is to confront injustice.
It is also liberating. Resistance, whether against French colonialism in Algeria or against Zionism in Palestine, requires enlightened thinking rather than prejudice, bigotry and chauvinistic nationalism. How else would we distinguish a just struggle from a racist, colonial war? "The Ghost of al-Reem" and the American teacher are both victims of bigotry, as there is no cause here other than the enormity of the crime itself.