Monday, 12 May 2008

'Death was the least she deserved'

It’s difficult to decide what is the most depressing aspect of one of the most depressing stories to come out of post-invasion Iraq. It’s bad enough that Abdel-Qader Ali murdered his 17-year-old daughter, Rand, after she became infatuated with a British soldier in Basra, by choking her with his foot on her throat. It’s worse that when Rand’s mother, Leila Hussein, called on her two sons to stop him, instead they joined in. It’s worse still that the Basra police held Abdel-Qader for barely a couple of hours, during which time they congratulated him for what he had done before letting him go.

‘Death was the least she deserved,’ Abdel-Qader told an Iraqi journalist a couple of weeks later in an interview reported in the Observer on 11 May. ‘I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion.’

Perhaps the most depressing of all, however, was what Leila Hussein revealed about the man who killed their child. ‘Even now, I cannot believe my ex-husband was able to kill our daughter,’ she said. ‘He wasn’t a bad person. During our 24 years of marriage, he was never aggressive. But on that day, he was a different person.’

I don’t doubt it, any more than I doubt that the great majority of people who went along with the Nazis, or Stalinism, or slavery, or the Inquisition, weren’t, in essence, ‘bad people’. They were ordinary people led astray by bad ideas. And just as you can’t divorce the actions of Nazis, or Stalinists, or slave traders, or the Inquisition, from the ideologies that underpinned them, neither can you divorce the actions of Abdel-Qader Ali from the ideology that underpinned his killing of his own child. Certainty is the root of all evil – and you don’t get more certain than those who have faith that the hand of the divine can be found in their cruel and wicked deeds.

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