Of course, not all Muslims will kidnap anyone, much less underage girls.
But, this episode with Boko Haram (or, as their full name is, ‘Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad’ – and they are most definitely Muslims who are following the literal example of their prophet) has stirred up a lot of emotions in me, for reasons that, perhaps, it is time for me to share.
A distant cousin of mine was, just a few short years ago, working for an aid agency in Africa when he and several of his co-workers were kidnapped by Al Shabaab – they were later released under undisclosed terms, but, that is not my story and am not at a liberty to share it.
There is a much older story, which I can share, because it happened to me – personally.
This was my first encounter with Islam – but it was an encounter that had made a very deep impression on me and, as I was already interested in studying the various religions (on the other side of the Iron Curtain, I was only able to study ancient ones) and this encounter started my decades long study of Islam and Sharia…
I know, I know – thou shall not drink and blog is THE golden rule of blogging, but, I admit, I have had to have had a glass or two of wine to get my courage up to write about this….
First, a bit of background….
I went to a language school – 72 kids in a country of 15 million got picked every year to enter, based on a barrage of aptitude tests. I was not supposed to be permitted to be tested, but, through an administrative error (and a signature forgery on my part – which had never been discovered), I managed to get myself tested. I tested so high on the aptitude to learn languages that even my dad’s status as an only partially rehabilitated political dissident could not get me excluded, because the linguists on the admissions board insisted. (I learned about this much, much later when one of my former teachers came to visit me in Canada.) Suffice it to say – I was admitted to this elite language school where I learned a number of languages.
As part of this school, I was exposed to a lot more ‘foreigners’ than most other schoolchildren behind the Iron Curtain were.
I had ‘pen pals’ in few of the ‘brother socialist countries’ and even though our letters were supervised by the school, their letters (and especially the photos from my pen pal in the Irkutsk) were quite eye-opening.
In addition, when foreign dignitaries from other countries would come, or sports competitors would visit, we would be the schoolchildren paraded out and presented to meet them – as we could communicate in their language (or, in some cases, in Russian – which was the case with, say Cuban visitors, etc.).
For example, the town I was from holds world-famous horse races. Even Dick Francis mentions having raced there. When I was about 11, 5 of us girls were sent to officially ‘entertain’ the Cuban delegation to this race….with no adult to ensure our safety. It was the first time I was kissed by a man….but I got myself and the other girls away before it got out of control! (Some of the other girls were even jealous that I got kissed and they didn’t…we were so innocent!)
But, school was not the only place where I met ‘foreigners’.
Even though he was a political dissident, my father was also a world-class scientist who specialized in artificial intelligence. By the time I was in the language school in the late 70’s, he had published a number of ground-breaking books on the subject. And, even though they had to be published under his bosses’ name (my father’s name was deemed too inflammatory), he was well known in scientific circles. As such, he got sent to Moscow a number of times (whenever they stole some Western tech and needed him to reverse-engineer it). In Moscow, he met other scientists sent there and visiting there from other countries. He was well liked and respected – he is, after all, a smart cookie!
So, a number of these scientists (mostly from ‘brother nations’) had visited my daddy at our home – and he and I would take them sight seeing. Sometimes, there would be several scientists, some speaking only English as our common tongue while others speaking only Russian. As I was perfectly fluent in Russian, I would act as the interpreter for the Russian-speaking scientists while he translated for the English speaking ones. Again, these were fascinating experiences that greatly broadened my horizons.
Thus, when I was 13 years old and we were in the process of escaping from behind the Iron Curtain, I was much more ‘worldly’ than an average child of my age.
Yet, nothing in my exposure to people from various lands and cultures had prepared me in the least to my encounter with Islam….
So, what happened?
We were escaping from The People’s Socialist Paradise – towards freedom!
My parents exploited some red tape to get visas for all three of us to Yugoslavia: the one ‘socialist’ country that was not 100% compliant with the Soviet Union’s policy and thus gave some hope of getting out. Nothing was guaranteed – we could have been caught and our lives ruined, or we could win the lottery and get out. Our chances were about 70/30 in favour of success – if we avoided Serb-controlled border points (the Serbs were loyal to the Soviets and would send us straight to jail, the Croats would let us out just to spite the Soviets – we knew this and hoped to capitalize on it – excuse the pun!).
In order to get out of Yugoslavia legally – which was our wish, as breaking the laws of the country we fled to (in our case, Austria) would be contrary to the code of lawful behaviour. After all, if we sought protection from a country, breaking their laws in entering it would have been unthinkable for us!
So, once we entered Yugoslavia (an absolutely awesome holiday place), we went straight to Belgrade to seek visas from the Austrian and German embassies.
Aside: we had heard that the conditions in Germany were much better for refugees than in Austria, so we sought a visa to go there – but then we heard that the rules for seeking a political asylum required us to file in the first country we entered where we could seek political asylum, and that would have been Austria, so we abandoned the attempt to get German visas (even though they were willing to grant them to us) and decided to seek asylum in Austria.
When we got to Belgrade, we were too poor to stay in a hotel – we stayed instead at a campground just North of the city. We had two pup-tents: one for my parents (orange) and one for me (yellow). It must be made clear that European campsites are nowhere near as private as North American ones – indeed, there is little or no privacy at all as one tent is very close to another, with no trees or bushes in between.
We set up our tents and went to the Austrian and German embassies to seek visas. Both embassies were only open between 8 am and noon, and there were lineups outside the doors (so we did not get into the German embassy on the first or second day).
The second day of us staying at the campsite, a rich oil sheik with an entourage of several SUVs (armed men) and two air conditioned luxury tour buses (women and children) set up camp in the same campground that we were staying at – just under a steep slope that was too steep to set tents up on, but which formed a natural amphitheater. In the evening, they started playing very exotic eastern music – and some of the women and girls were dancing. It did not take long for many of us ‘other campers’ to gather and sit on that slope and watch in utter fascination something so very exotic and tantalizing! It was beautiful!
It was on our third day waiting outside the German embassy that a shot, plump, smiling, 50-ish man approached my father. He opened his wallet and pulled out a VERY thick stack of $100US bills – and, speaking broken English/German, he asked my father to sell me to him.
My father flatly refused.
The smiling man would not be rebuffed so easily: he kept talking to my father, explaining that I was not for him – he wanted to buy me as a birthday present for his son!
Needless to say, my father did not sell me. Like I said, he is a smart cookie and a good guy to boot!
That evening, at the campground, the sheik’s entourage put on another performance! And, fascinated, we went to watch…
This evening, the women and girls dancing started inviting the gathered watchers to join in the dancing, teaching both women and men the moves. Of course, I wanted to join in – but my dad, looking more grim than I ever remembered him, would not let me.
Then an 8-or-so year old girl came around, offering sweets to everyone – again, I was eager to taste it but my dad forbade me to take one.
It was then that he pointed out that down by one of those buses was that guy who had tried to buy me ‘as a birthday present to his son’. Indeed, that was the very sheik who was the owner of this harem and entourage…and he kept staring at me.
That night, after everyone seemed to go to sleep, my dad poked his head into my tent and said that we were leaving – right now!!!
We packed in a huge rush – not even putting the tents into their cases – and drove out of the campground. Two dark vehicles from the sheik’s spot followed us. We drove at relatively high speeds through Belgrade – with the two dark vehicles on our tail. I don’t know quite how, but, eventually, my dad lost them and we drove far, far away…
Back then, I did not grasp the full significance of what had happened. Sure, I was frightened – but, well, not enough….I simply had no concept of how serious the situation was or just how drastically my life would have been altered had my father not had the foresight he did.
There is a very, very long tradition of hunting down Slavic girls for Islamic harems…something I was totally unaware of then.
Did you know that the very word ‘slave’ comes form ‘Slav’?
Because so many of us have been hunted down and sold into slavery in Muslim lands?
Way more of us were enslaved in the Muslim lands than there ever were black slaves sold to Europe or the Americas….
Mohammed himself had a Slavic Christian girl, Miriam, as a sex slave – given to him by the fathers of Constantinopole in the hopes it would appease him…
The hijab itself is indeed a variation of the Slavic head-dress – which so enchanted Mohammed that he imposed it on all of his ‘wives’!
After Mohammad’s example (a man ALL Muslims are ordered by the Koran and the Hadith to emulate), it became a ‘fashion’, a status symbol, for pious Muslims of means to own a Slavic Christian sex slave.
As in, Slavic AND Christian girl is the highest value sex slave, but a Christian of any race is acceptable…
And THAT is who Boko Haram consider it acceptable to capture, hold and sell Christian girls into sex-slavery – they are following the example set by Mohammed, which their religion, Islam, demands that they emulate.
I truly and honestly feel for these girls – but for my father’s wisdom, I would have been one of them!!!