Thursday, May 27, 2004

Blind Muslim Clerics 

Everybody's reporting that radical British Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has been indicted in the US and faces an extradition hearing in the UK for aiding Al Qaeda and plotting to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Many press reports note that Hamza has only one eye (and no hands). Which leads me to my honest question: why are so many Islamic leaders who make the news partially or completely blind? Is this a coincidence? Besides Hamza, I'm aware of:

Sheik Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas whom Israel assassinated earlier this year;

Sheik Omar abd al Rahman, the Brooklyn-based radical Islamist who is now in prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing;

Mullah Omar, Taliban leader;

Abdurrahman Wahid
, former president of Indonesia (moderate and anti-Islamist, by the way).

Perhaps there are more.

Hamza and Mullah Omar, at least, are thought to have lost their sight in battle in Afghanistan. Participation in the anti-Soviet campaign there obviously lends some leadership status within certain communities. Still, though, I'm curious; is this coincidence or is there a reason for such prominence for blind religious leaders (some sort of moral standing offered by such a physical loss, maybe?)

Please don't post comments or send me e-mails with knee-jerk anti-Muslim reactions or cheap cracks. I'll be sure to delete and ban any posters who violate this rule.

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