Thursday, January 08, 2015

Deputy Emir of al-Hesbah: Fool for a Cigarette?

Dangerous Smokes

In a report for the International Business Times, Gianluca Mezzofiore informs us that the "Isis chief executioner [was] found beheaded with [a] cigarette in his mouth" (January 6, 2015):
In a grotesque twist of the saying "live by the sword, die by the sword", an Islamic State [IS] executioner in Syria who carried out beheadings for the jihadist group has been found [decapitated] . . . . The body of the Egyptian man, known to be the deputy emir of the feared al-Hesbah (or Hisbah) force in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, was recovered near a power plant in al-Mayadeen city . . . . Hisbah is IS's religious police who perform the role of enforcing the group's twisted version of sharia in the self-styled caliphate . . . . The corpse showed signs of torture and carried the message "This is evil, you Sheikh" written on it. The severed head also had a cigarette in its mouth. It is unclear who carried out the decapitation but the message was obvious.
No, that's not correct. If the perpetrator is unclear, then so is the message. From Mezzofiore's further words on the subject, we can see that he thinks the Islamic State itself beheaded its own deputy emir of al-Hesbah when the man was caught smoking:
Islamic State's . . . ban on cigarettes is one of its signature polices. It has imposed a strict set of Sharia laws barring the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the territories it has conquered . . . . IS has declared smoking "slow suicide" and demands that "every smoker should be aware that with every cigarette he smokes in a state of trance and vanity is disobeying God".
Mezzofiore's view is clear, despite his explicit words to the contrary, for he states his point as follows:
It is unclear who carried out the decapitation but the message was obvious.

Islamic State's . . . ban on cigarettes is one of its signature polices.
Mezzofiore says the message is obvious, namely the ban on cigarettes, a sequence of statements implying that the ban applies to everyone, regardless of status. In other words, the IS executed its own deputy emir of al-Hesbah for smoking. But Mezzofiore is wrong. The Islamic State did not do this, for it would have executed the deputy emir publicly to make a point about its moral rigor even on smoking. The deputy emir was tortured and killed by some opposition force - or even more likely by relatives of someone executed for smoking. Brutality engenders brutality. The Islamic State will eventually be so hated that this sort of revenge killing will happen repeatedly. I recall a similar case in Afghanistan. An executioner's young son was murdered in revenge for his father's brutality.

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At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

off-topic: If you're thinking of blogging about the Paris massacre, you might take a look at related posts and comment threads on lib/progressive websites like Think Progress.


At 12:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks. I've been looking at several sites, but my post tomorrow will be just an exhortation to stand firm on free speech.

Jeffery Hodges

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