Walking Blindly: When Perception Di...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Walking Blindly: When Perception Disappears…

Walking Blindly: When Perception Disappears…

I have read an interesting article in which the author talked about the nations which commit self genocide and ethnocide. The author added that history did not record any nation which followed a meticulous plan to destroy itself like we do. We have reached a dreadful state of ignorance to an extent that we advocate for righteousness and promote for vice at the same time. The embedded meanings in this article are worthy to be discussed in the following points.

The term genocide which means deliberate and systematic destruction and killing of a certain ethnic group whether partially or fully first appeared in 1944 and was used by the Polish Jewish Professor, Raphael Lemkin to describe the horrendous Nazi actions which according to his opinion were not limited to the Jews but extended to encompass annihilating some of the Eastern European communities. The term was well spread and was used since then to describe some of the historical events. The Quran itself lamented the Pharos attempt to destroy the Israelites and considered it such a heinous crime. God says, “Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters.” 28:4

History witnessed chapters of violence and killings such as William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, whose reign was plagued with violence to the English people especially in the beginning of his ruling (1066-1072). Also the heinous actions which were committed by the Americans against the Indian original inhabitants along with the British colonialists and their annihilating attempts of the aboriginal Australians were all recorded. Other major acts of genocidal attempts were practiced by the Germans in Western Africa (1904-1907) and by the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lemkin’s efforts for five years in which he succeeded in collecting the signature of different countries to escalate the issue of genocide to international arena paid off when the United Nations announced the issuance of a law which prohibits genocide and considered it an international crime. The bill of the law was first announced in January 21st in 1952 but was not met with much enthusiasm by the five permanent members of the Security Council. Only France and China approved it and then the former Soviet Union agreed on it later in 1954 followed by Great Britain in 1988. The resistance of some of the members of the Security Council led to the delay of the actual application of the law till the 1990s of the 20th Century before which it was merely ink on paper for four full decades.

The law indicated five actions which mount to genocide and therefore worthy of being categorized as international crimes and the actions are as followed:
- Killing the members of any group of people.
- Causing serious physical or mental damages to any member of any group of people.
- Deliberate damage to the living conditions of any group of people which necessarily leads to its extinction.
- Forcing laws and extreme measures on any group of people which prevents them from procreation and reproduction.
- Transferring the children of a certain group of people to another group.

As for ethnocide, it was mentioned by Lemkin in his famous article titled “Axis rule in occupied Europe” which was published in 1944. He managed to derive the original linguistic root of the term from Greek and latin origin just like he did with the term “genocide”. Ethnocide as a word consist of the Greek word “Ethnos” which means nation and the Latin suffix “cide” which means killing. Lemkin introduced this term on the footnote of the same page in which he used the term genocide. So he confirmed that the Nazis actions can also be described as ethnocide and not only genocide.

Although both genocide and ethnocide were both introduced in the 1940s of the 20th century to describe the sadist Nazis heinous crimes against the Jews, the term ethnocide did not gain much attention as the term genocide did. The following years after the United Nations’ declaration of adopting an international law to criminalize genocide and deem it as an international crime, sociologists started to use the term ethnocide and limited its use to only mean genocide which is committed against a certain ethnicity or race.

The fact is that the term ethnocide is not limited to this confined meaning but actually extends to encompass other meanings. The term for example refers to any criminal actions towards a certain ethnicity even if it did not lead to the total annihilation of this race. This description refers to the long term damage such as minimizing the birth rate of a certain ethnicity or practicing continuous attempts to prevent the transmission of the societal culture from one generation to another. These attempts lead to a state of disconnection between the future generations and their ancestors. More seriously, this term refers to the attempts of some people to eradicate the history of a certain ethnicity from the human history. Historical resources assert that the term ethnocide is much more used by the prosecuted minorities than the term genocide.

The term ethnocide is close to the term “culturecide” and sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably and both stem from the term genocide and therefore any of these two terms can be replaced with the term genocide. Sociologists confirm that the benefits of the usage of these two terms “ethnocide and culturecide” is that they can both be used to describe the criminal acts of some governments which do not amount to genocide.

I have heard some of Sheikhs talking about the state of “hyena” which is similar to the concept of ethnocide. When the hyena wants to hunt its prey, it gazes at it and does what we can call “hypnotize” it then the hyena walks followed by its prey until the hyena reaches its home. The hyena then kills its prey by mounting on its back and urinates on it and its urine is anesthetized for the prey to make no resistance. The expression of hyena is used to describe the person who walks towards his death while falsely thinking he is walking willingly and this false sense of will is out of his sheer ignorance of his surrounding.

The hyena effect usually comes from outside and this effect reminds me with the demonstration effect of the product on the consumer in the world of marketing. Therefore we need to become the type of the rational consumer and not the type which accepts colonialism with total conformity as was described by Malik ibn Nabi.

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