On May 11, the world was shocked to see the extent of the dark hatred that existed in the world, when Islamic militants beheaded a young civilian and released the gruesome ‘procedure’ on tape. And while the murderers exclaimed that the murder was performed to “magnify their God,” the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said the struggle was one between good and evil.
“Our enemies glorify the torture-murder of a fellow human being and claim that it magnifies their God. This is a struggle between good and evil, between civilization and barbarism,” said Richard Land, ERLC president.
Nick Berg, a telecommunications civilian from Philedelphia, was found dead nearly a month ago, his head severed and his body left beside a bridge in Iraq. The videotape of the murder, however, was released on an al Qaeda-related website, just yesterday.
Berg, a “free spirit,” had previously traveled to Africa to do humanitarian work, and felt Iraq would open a similar chance to serve. Nick, who as only 26 at the time of his murder, had supported President Bush and his effort to fight terrorism in Iraq.
“This horrific, video-taped torture-murder is as graphic an example as we’re likely to find of the difference between the civilized world and the uncivilized world,” Land said to the Southern Baptist Convention’s news, Baptist Press.
“This slaying was barbaric, and that it was perpetrated in the name of religion, any religion, is blasphemous,” Land said.
In the video footage, one of the executioners reads a statement, saying, "For the mothers and wives of American soldiers, we tell you that we offered the U.S. administration to exchange this hostage for some of the detainees in Abu Ghraib and they refused.
"How can free Muslims sleep soundly as they see Islam being slaughtered, honor bleeding, photographs of shame and reports of Satanic degradation of the people of Islam, men and women, in Abu Ghraib prison?"
So we tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins ... slaughtered in this way."
They also say to President Bush, "As for you Bush, dog of the west, expect severe days. You and your troops will regret the day you stepped into the land of Iraq."
Land also commented on the prisoner abuse scandal at the Abu Gharib prison; for the past two weeks, the world saw image after image of torture performed by American and British soldiers on Iraqi detainees.
“The reason that the abuses at the prison in Baghdad have been such worldwide news is because these were American soldiers in an American prison facility. Would it have been news that this kind of abuse and much worse was going on in a Chinese prison or a North Korean prison? Hardly. Far worse goes on all the time, and we all know it,” said Land.
“The United States has asked to be judged by a different standard, and we’re calling the rest of the world to that standard,” Land said. “What happened in the Baghdad prison was horrific, and the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as far up the chain of command as it needs to go to get to those who were responsible or whose dereliction of duty led to these abuses.
“But let’s understand -– this is news, because we do behave differently. And we’re calling the world to the standard that we espouse and the standard that we normally practice, of which this is an aberration,” Land said.
“The terrible abuses inflicted upon prisoners under American military control at the Abu Ghraib prison have unfairly besmirched the image of the vast majority of our military personnel who have served, and continue to serve, bravely and honorably both in the Middle East and around the world,” continued Land “The Baghdad prison scandal has also done enormous damage to our laudable and noble goal of trying to champion the cause of freedom and humanity as the right of every person in the world.