I really don’t plan on writing very much on Islam in America anymore or the situation within the American-Muslim community. I am still basically on the “Jummah at the Crib” tip that I alluded to an in earlier post. Mosques, religious organizations and imams are not speaking to the needs of the people so people must organize themselves at a small level. The Earth is a masjid so surely your living room can suffice as a masjid.
For the last several days I have been thinking about an incident in Northern Virginia after speaking to a well-connected Muslim brother and friend there. I thought about our conversation again as I attended a Muslim Organizing meeting in St. Louis on Saturday. One of the attendees spoke to the communal nature of eastern cultures and the selfish individualistic nature of western societies. To a large extent this is true of course and there are pros and cons to both. Traditional Muslim cultures with their emphasis on families and tribes ensure many things. Homelessness is rare, loneliness is less common, marrying is easier, and there is a sense of belonging and shared responsibility. The negatives of course are this can stifle individuals which stifles creativity and leads to stagnation and often a culture of hiding and covering up anything that would make the group look bad even if it means the problem festers. Which brings me back to Northern Virginia.
A few years ago I wrote about the situation with a security-guard at a large mosque in Northern Virginia. The guard was a middle-aged non-married man with a white-collar job who volunteered as a guard and became a trusted member of the community. In addition to his security duties he could often be found in the office of the mosque weighing in on other matters related to the administration of the mosque.
A single brother, decent looking with a good job will be courted by many Muslim sisters and families for marriage. This brother never expressed any interest in marriage or women. Meanwhile he became very close to a number of young boys in the community and began hosting sleepovers. These same boys over time all began displaying effeminate behavior and formed a clique at the mosque of similar boys who all shared the connection to the security guard. At least one of the boys admitted in private to having been sexually molested by the guard during a sleepover.
Made aware of this situation a few years ago while in Virginia I talked to a celebrity Imam living near the mosque and he approached the leadership who dismissed the information. It is important to note that one of the most influential people in the mosque and indeed one of the most respected people in Brotherhood circles in America had his own son at these sleepovers (who began displaying effeminate mannerisms shortly thereafter and is now living in DC in an openly gay lifestyle. Now his sexual-orientation is none of anyone’s business, that is not the issue, the fact that he was possibly molested by a mosque employee is another).
While at the time the mosque did nothing the security-guard was eventually fired and told not to come back to the mosque. I asked my friend the other day what explanation the mosque gave and he told me “they said he was messing around with the boys”.
Good riddance. Glad he is gone. However, pedophilia is illegal. A crime. People who molest children are not subject to the discipline of the Board of Directors of mosques they are subject to criminal prosecutions in America. This is precisely the problem Catholic Churches had. Instead of reporting pedophile priests to the authorities they handled the matter within the church and it festered. Priests were transferred and went onto abuse children again. It was more important to uphold the reputation of the church than to protect children.
The same thing happened with Muslims in Northern Virginia. Not only was this matter not brought to the authorities but this individual is free to go work at other mosques again. To work with children again. To abuse children again. But why? Because revealing his crimes and taking them to the authorities would have hurt the reputation of the mosque, would have dishonored the families, and aired dirty laundry. So, injustice is less important than keeping up appearances in the community. Living your life for these communal expectations. Others knowing your boy was molested is a greater crime than actually getting molested. Instead of a victim the child would be seen as damaged-goods if made public.
So, I have a few questions:
1. Where is this individual today? Is he working security at another mosque? At a school? Is he working around children?
2. Or is something more sinister going on? This is a mosque where there have been several prosecutions of members.Numerous members are serving lengthy prison-sentences. At least one former attendee has been killed in a drone-strike. It is documented that the mosque has been under heavy-surveillance (indeed some of those middle-aged Ikhwaani uncles would speak to one another in whispers at times, meet with the lights off, or cover their mouths when speaking) . How could this behavior go unnoticed by the government? Or was it unnoticed? A guard in such a place has a lot of information at his fingertips about a lot of people. He hears a lot of conversations. There could be reward, or looking the other way, if he were to share such conversations with interested parties.
In conclusion it is no secret the problems the Catholic Church has had in this area. It is also no secret that The Gulf, Pakistan and the security guard’s home country of Afghanistan have had problems with the abuse of young boys. That is a problem we can do without and the backhome mentality of shaming the victim is not good there and it is not good here.