Yesterday afternoon I was paging through the search words list from the referrals on our site meter when I saw the phrase “hand amputating machine shariah.” I almost continued to the next screen, but then I did a double take, thinking “What the heck was this person looking for?” Whatever it was, he didn’t find it on Gates of Vienna.
So I did some carefully targeted searching for “amputation machines.” There isn’t much information about them out there in the blogosphere — Ed Driscoll and Winds of Change mentioned them briefly back in 2002, and there were several other references in Christian missionary web sites. All were drawing on the same news source (the original of which now seems to be unavailable), which said that Muslim religious authorities in Nigeria were waiting for the arrival of amputation machines to mete out sentences to young thieves.
“Amputation machines”?? Where do they come from? Can you find them in equipment supply catalogues? Do you order them C.O.D. from the Acme Amputation Machine Company?
I found an angry editorial in the Niger Delta Congress by Sonnie Ekwowusi, railing against President Olusegun Obasanjo’s unwillingness or inability to stop the spread of the Shari’ah southwards into the heart of Nigeria:
So the most reasonable thing to do now is to beg Ahmed Sani and his Sharia protagonists for mercy and forgiveness. There is nothing we can do now. I read that they have imported some amputation machines from abroad to facilitate the limbcutting show. Armchair critics of the strong man of Zamfara State should bury their heads in shame. Sokoto State has hired the man as a Sharia consultant with specialty in amputation of the hands of suspected petty thieves. His Excellency will go places. Who knows whether his Excellency, our dear Sani intends to extend his consultancy services to his brethren in the South? Why not if muslims ask for it? Even without asking for it, has it not dawned on these irreligious Southerners that the only thing they need to curb the high incidence of armed robbery in the South is Sharia? Even we need Sharia courts throughout Nigeria to dispense substantial justice approved by Quran, Sunah and Ijitihad of the Maliki School. [emphasis added]
So Nigeria had been importing “amputation machines” from abroad to render the implementation of Shari’ah justice more efficient. How modern of them!
But where was “abroad”?
Then I came across this story from last October in The Anglican Planet by Ian Ritchie, talking about the difficult and painful attempt to achieve interfaith reconciliation in Nigeria:
One of the most contentious issues is Islamic law or sharia. Twelve of nineteen states in northern Nigeria have imposed some form of sharia since 2000. Internationally reported cases of extreme corporal punishments have fuelled the fears of many non-Muslims and moderate Muslims, these include stoning for adultery and the amputation of hands for the offence of stealing.
While there are many reasons for hope, it must also be acknowledged that Christian leaders generally sounded more optimistic about the prospects for peace and dialogue when speaking on the record than when speaking off the record.
One evening we met the Director of Kano’s Hisba. Our host, a Muslim scholar of some note, explained, together with the Director, that the Hisba is an organization, like the Boy Scouts, that was set up to cover areas of public service not being adequately covered by the police, and was nothing to fear.
The next evening Christians told us that the Hisba was set up to enforce sharia. The benign interpretation of Hisba is for public consumption, to smooth the introduction of a parallel police force, they said. They added that soon after Zamfara State started cutting off people’s hands for stealing, Kano State bought hand amputation machines from Saudi Arabia. One man who had witnessed a hand amputation explained how a thief had tried to steal an air conditioner, and was caught by the security guard. “The guard immediately cut off the man’s hand, most painfully. I was so embarrassed.” [emphasis added]
There are several things to note in these paragraphs.
First, the reaction to the cutting off of hands for stealing is “embarrassment”, apparently bypassing shock, horror, anger, outrage, and shame.
Second, the Hisba organization represents itself to the Western media as “like the Boy Scouts”, when it is in fact a version of the muttawa , the religious police. Do you smell taqiyya at work here?
Lastly, the amputation machines are imported from Saudi Arabia. Well, of course! Where else would they come from?
Some sources say that these machines resemble “crude guillotines”. But, no matter how crude they are, you can bet that Saudi Arabia doesn’t actually make them. Saudi Arabia doesn’t make anything but trouble for the rest of the world.
It could be that those machines were originally designed and built in Jamaica, for cutting sugar cane. Or in Taiwan, for cutting up livestock carcasses. But the Saudis applied their native ingenuity to the situation, sized up the African market, and resold the machines to the Hisba.
It’s like the AK-47s carried by the mujahideen in Ramallah and Ramadi and Kashmir: they don’t make them; they can’t make them, but they sure can use them.
Or the cranes used to hang women in Iran. They were probably made in the Czech Republic or Belgium, and were designed for building houses or power plants. The Iranians just found a better use for them.
Or the mullahs’ nuclear weapons, the ones that are about to turn Tel Aviv into a green glass crater, if Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has his druthers. The Iranians didn’t spend thousands of man-hours doing the physics and engineering to develop those weapons. They sold the oil and bought the Bomb; that’s all they did.
As a matter of fact, most of the brainpower and sweat back in the 1930s and ’40s that went into the invention of atomic weapons was Jewish. All those Jewish scientists, come to America to escape Hitler and the gas chambers.
Now isn’t that the ultimate irony?