March 15, 2005
By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Creating a supportive social environment for terrorists has been a critical factor in the Palestinian Authority's successful promotion of suicide terrorism. To this end, PA policy has been to honor terrorists as Shahids (Martyrs for Allah), and to teach Palestinian mothers to celebrate when their children die as terrorist Shahids. Categorizing these dead terrorists as Shahids grants them the highest honor a Muslim can achieve, and is therefore cause for a mother to celebrate, according to this PA teaching. This pressure on Palestinian mothers to celebrate their dead sons as Shahids continues under the regime of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and even increased this past week with repeated PA TV promotion connected to International Woman's Day. Preaching before an audience that included Abbas, Sheikh Yusuf Juma' Salamah said in Friday's sermon on PA TV that the ideal Palestinian woman is like Al Khansah, the heroine of Islamic tradition who celebrated her four sons' death in battle by thanking God for the honor. Salamah, the PA Minister of Waqf, quoted Al Khansah: "Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths." [PA TV, March 11, 2005] It's important to note that this was the first Friday sermon broadcast since the PA announced last week that it would control and vet all Friday sermons delivered in West Bank and Gaza strip mosques. This portrayal of the ideal Palestinian woman as one who willingly sacrifices her sons as Shahids, therefore, continues to represent official PA ideology - especially since this sermon was delivered in the presence of Abbas. Two days later, PA TV broadcast a theatrical skit that included veneration of the same Al Khansah. A father taught his son her declaration: "Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths." [PA TV, March 13, 2005] Both the sermon and the play portray Al Khansah's celebration of the deaths of her four sons as superior to the way she mourned the deaths of her two brothers, who died before she adopted Islam. During an interview with four university students for International Women's Day last week, PA TV broadcast a telephone call from the Dean of Media at Al-Aqsa University. He expressed admiration for the "unique Palestinian woman ... she is the one who shouts for joy on the day of the Shahid." [PA TV, March 10, 2005] Promoting the Al Khansah ideal for Palestinians is a very powerful message for Muslims. Al Khansah was a poet in the early Islamic period. Before she converted to Islam, her brothers died, and she grieved. However, Islamic historian Ibn Athir writes that after she converted to Islam, she delivered a fiery speech encouraging her four sons to march into battle for Allah. When all four were killed, the poem she wrote was one of joy, rejoicing that Allah had honored her with the deaths of her sons. Al Khansah is considered the archetypal mother of Shahids, a woman glorified by Palestinians for encouraging her sons to kill and die for Allah, and rejoicing when they achieved their Shahada deaths. From a very young age, Palestinian girls are taught to adopt Al Khansah as a role model with her message of celebrating death in combat - which in contemporary Palestinian society includes death while committing acts of suicide terror. A music video for children, broadcast hundreds of times over three years on PA TV, included the farewell letter of a child Shahid, including the words: "Mother don't cry for me, be joyous over my blood." In addition, the Palestinian Authority has named at least five girls schools "the Al Khansah School for Girls," in Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Han Yunis and Rafah. [Al Hayat Al Jadida, Jan. 9, 2005] The following are the transcripts of these and other portrayals of the ideal Palestinian mother as one who celebrates her son's death.
1. Friday TV sermon, Sheik Yusuf Juma' Salamah, Minister of the Waqf, in the presence of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA members.
"Al Khansah, this noble woman... The day she lost her brother Sakher [before she adopted Islam] she began crying, shouting and feeling pain. She recited poetry: "The sunrise reminds me of Sakher, and I remember him with every sunset, and had there not been around me all the mourners for their brothers, I would have killed myself". This was during the Jahiliyah [pre-Islam period]. When Allah filled her heart with love for Islam, and it became full of faith, things changed. She sent her four sons, her offspring, to battle, to Qadisiyah [near Iraq] as a service to this religion. When she was notified that they had become Shahids (Died for Allah), she said, "Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths. I pray that he will take me to them at the place where His mercy dwells."This is the great woman. This is the noble woman. Have you seen how Islam changed her behavior, her virtues, and her poetry?..." [PA TV, March 11, 2005]
2. Theatrical Skit: Educational TV program "My knowledge, your knowledge":
A young child asks his father: "My father, my father, who is this woman?" Father: "This is the poet Tumarid, who is known by name Al Khansah. She was one of the prettiest women of her time. .." Female host: "When [before she adopted Islam] her brother Mu'awiya died, and after that her brother on her father's side, Sakher, she became extremely mournful because of them" Al Khansah: "I was extremely saddened for Sakher, until my eyes became blind. In Al-Qadisiyah battle, four sons of mine became Shahids." Father: "When she was told of her four sons' deaths, she pleaded to the Creator, to him be the glory and power, and said, "Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths." [PA TV, March 13, 2004]
3. The Dean of Al Aqsa University Faculty of Media [on behalf of the University's Dean], Dr Hussein Abu Shanab: Dr Hussein Abu Shanab, the Dean of the Media Faculty at Al-Aqsa University [on behalf of himself and of the University's Dean]:
"The Palestinian woman -our hearts all full of respect and admiration for her, as she is a unique woman for several reasons: she is the Shahid's mother; and she is [the one] who shouts for joy on the day of the Shahid and she is [the one] who shouts for joy, while her son is a prisoner, and she is [the one] who shouts for joy, when her son is arrested..." [PA TV, March 10, 2005]
Additional examples from the PMW archives:
4. Interview with the mother of two killed terrorists.
Host: They [Israelis] accuse the Palestinian mother of hating her sons and of encouraging them to die. Mother: No. We do not encourage our sons to die. We encourage them to shahada [death for Allah] for the homeland, for Allah. We don't say to the mothers of the shahids, ‘We come to comfort you,' rather, ‘We come to bless you on your son's wedding, on your son's shahada. Congratulations to you on the shahada.' For us, the mourning is a [joyous] wedding. We give out drinks, we give out sweets. Praise to Allah, our mourning is a [joyous] wedding. [PA TV, November 17, 2004]
5. A Suicide Bomber's Imaginary Letter to his Mother
Introduction: In the literature section in the official Palestinian daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida, a poem written as an imaginary letter from a suicide bomber to his mother, glorifies and idealizes every action of his murder and suicidal death.
A letter from a Shahid to his Mother" / By Abdul Badi Iraq
"My Dear Mother,
[Al Hayat Al Jadida, official Palestinian Daily, Feb. 27, 2003]
...I wrapped my body with determination, with hopes and with bombs.
I asked [reaching] towards Allah and the fighting homeland.
The [explosive] belt makes me fly, strengthens me to make haste.
I calm it [the explosive], we should stay steadfast, we have not yet reached.
I freed/launched myself; I freed/launched myself, [detonated myself] like lava burning old legends and vanity,
I freed/launched my body, all my pains and oppression, towards the packs of beasts...
I freed/launched, oh mother, freed the chains and the shackles. And you found me rising and rising like a candle that was lit with precious olive oil.
And you saw me sending a loving kiss above the mosques and the churches, the houses and the roads.
Flocks of pigeons flew above the porches
And Al-Aksa smiled and gave me a sign that we will not sleep. Dawn is close, oh mother, and it shall rise from the guns, from the shining spears
It will be lit from a bloody wound...
The wedding is the wedding of the land.
Sound a cry of joy, oh mother, I am the groom..."
6. Palestinian Mother Proudly Prayed for her Son to Die, during her Pilgrimage [Haj] to Mecca
Below are excerpts from her interview:
"[My second son Naji] became a Shahid on Mar. 23, 2002, at the age of 20. Before I made my pilgrimage [to Mecca], he put his hands on my head and said: "Be calm, mother, be calm, this is my wish. Pray for me, that I will be a Shahid [Die for Allah]." When I did the circuit [an Islamic pilgrimage ceremony], in Mecca and Medina, I swear to Allah, that I prayed for him... And said: Praise Allah, my children asked for Shahada, and it is better than the way we will die. Their death is for Allah, death for our country, death for our Jerusalem ..."
Presenter: "Of course, we are always very proud of all of our Shahids." [Palestinian Television 5/12/02]
Links to videos of more mothers expressing their joy and honor on the PMW web site: 1. It brings honor to all the family members "People say -'There is the mother of the Shahid'..."
2. A mother wants the best for her son, and as a Shahid he achieves the maximum. Also Allah wills he go on Jihad.
3. He had no one to marry in this world so he wanted to marry the 72 "dark-eyed maidens" of Paradise. 4. Mothers Express Joy at son's Death for Allah