The fight against ISIS has taken its share of twists and turns, but one constant in the conflict is America’s collective shock and surprise over the tactics of the terror group.
There appears to be endless surprise that a group of individuals could have such religious fervor that they throw homosexuals to their death from rooftops, crucify people who speak out against them, behead their enemies, and, most recently, burned alive a Jordanian pilot trapped in a cage. But no one who is willing to speak truth should be surprised by such heinous acts.
With the exception of Cyprus, Bahrain, Jordan and Israel, most of the Middle East is stuck in the Middle Ages. A quick jog through the CIA World Fact Book, or a perusal of the Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch websites reflect this reality. These sources and others lead to the same conclusion: that, save the aforementioned exceptions, the Middle East is wrought with inequality, discrimination, unimaginable violence and criminal justices systems that lack the most fundamental standards of jurisprudence.
Consider Saudi Arabia. From what we can confirm, this American ally beheaded more than 65 people last year alone. Saudi Arabia also practices the custom of Diyya, or better translated, “blood money.” This is a system by which a murderer can be spared punishment by paying money to the victim’s family. While the Left in our country works itself into a lather because the richest 25% of Americans only pay 86% of all income taxes, murder in Saudi Arabia is a rich man’s sport.
Oppression against women and sexual minorities is commonplace in most of the 17 Middle Eastern nation-states. Why are we surprised to learn of the disdain and cruelty ISIS shows women? Its sanctioning of rape, beatings and the forced marriage of young women is not far removed from its neighbors.
According to Yemen familial law, for example, the testimony of a woman is worth only one-half of a man’s in financial cases, and not accepted at all in cases of adultery. In other Middle East countries, women still live under guardianship laws. Depending on the nation, this means a woman must have a man’s permission to marry, vote, drive, leave the country, get a job, go to school, open a business, take a loan, or even leave the house. Women need permission to live life. Even the Turkish president announced in 2014 – during a womens’ right conference, no less – that gender equality contradicts the laws of nature.
Few of the nations which comprises the Middle East have anything even close to a bill of rights; some of them don’t even have a written penal code. And you can forget about freedom of the press. According to the World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders, out of 180 nation states there is one Middle Eastern nation that makes the top 25; Cyprus, which actually scores higher than the USA. Two other nations, Kuwait and Israel, barely crack the top 100, scoring 91 and 96 respectively. The remainder of the Middle East appears engaged in a race to the bottom; journalism is akin to a capital crime.
Most of the cultural progress in the Middle East has taken place in the past 10 years alone and usually under the guise of pressure from the west. And by progress, I mean allow a woman to hold a job, which still can be revoked by her guardian at any time. Remove Cyprus, Bahrain, Jordan and Israel from the equation and what remains is a region of earth with a human rights record that lies somewhere between that of Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.
It is a tough pill to swallow, but ISIS has been able to rise because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Rampant discrimination, prejudice, intolerance and horrific violence are commonplace in nations all around them, including some embraced as friends by the United States. This was even evidenced by the response of the grand imam of the Al Azhar Institute in Cairo, Egypt, to the burning of the Jordanian pilot last week when he was quoted saying, “This vile terrorist act requires punishment as cited by the Quran for oppressors and spoilers on earth who fight God and his prophet, that they be killed, or crucified, or their hands and legs cut off.”
Crucifixion. Chopping-off legs and hands. This is how justice was doled out a thousand years ago – or last week depending on your historical point of reference. The real tragedy is that in 2015, the atrocities attributed to ISIS could happen in almost any Middle Eastern country.
Autry J. Pruitt is a nationally syndicated radio host on UrRepublic. He can be followed on Twitter @autry.