ISIL and the Murder of Disabled Children

This Facebook post from Mosul Eye, a source that I’m told has some track record of reliability, shows a video of disabled children (just hanging out, really), then claims the following:

Through monitoring and following the death incidents of children with Down’s Syndrome and congenital deformities, we were able to learn that the Shar’i Board of ISIL issued an “Oral Fatwa” to its members authorizing them to “kill newborn babies with Down’s Syndrome and congenital deformities and disabled children”. The Fatwa was issued by one of ISIL’s Shar’i judges, a Saudi judge named ” Abu Said Aljazrawi”.
The information indicate that most of the children born with Down’s Syndrome are those of foreign fighters who married Iraqi, Syrian and Asian women. We recorded more than 38 confirmed cases of killing babies with congenital deformities and Down’s Syndrome, aged between one week to three months. They were killed by either lethel injection or suffocation. Some of those killings took place in Syria and Mosul.
This displaced child from Mosul, ISIL issues a Fatwa to kill him.
As if it is not enough for ISIL to kill men, women and the elderly, and now, they kill children

Coverage in the West has linked this to Aktion T4 (Breitbart, here, is typical), the systematic Nazi murder of disabled people at the beginning of the Holocaust. Sarah Palin has weighed in, too, with her usual pure-ID politics: “Over my dead body,” she says. Lots of coverage followed.

I think it’s a mistake to compare ISIL to the Nazis. The murder of 38 disabled children is terrible. The murder of 200 Syrian children, as alleged in this video, is also monstrous (this story also compares ISIL to the Nazis). In the West, though, we like to compare everyone we hate to Nazis, but 20th-century western fascism is just one kind of evil, among many, and when we misunderstand our enemy it makes it harder to defeat them.

From the disability perspective, moreover, my community tends to parse everything through the western tradition of eugenics. Eugenics is both a historical and contemporary problem that emerged directly out of the western scientific tradition. I see it as a byproduct of the Enlightenment, although that’s a post for another day (or, rather, just a long list of citations of pieces by smarter folks than I). It is possible that ISIL, with its European connections, is drawing from that eugenic tradition. But I don’t think so.

This is not, unlike the video of the Syrian massacre, or the specific slaughter of wheelchair users in the Bataclan theater in paris, an explicit act of terror. There’s no video of murdering disabled infants. This is not about exterminating the outsider or spreading fear + hate in the world. Rather, it’s enabling ISIL fighters to murder their own disabled children, eliminating the perceived “unfit” from society.

That, sadly, is an ancient tradition. The infanticide of disabled children is fairly routine throughout history and continues around the world today. I just read that 98% of all abandoned children in China have disabilities, for example, but I’m not picking on China. Ableisms, often murderous ones, infuse all cultures in their own way.

None of this excuses ISIL’s fighters who are murdering their children. I’m not even sure if the distinctions matter. But traditions of infanticide do vary, and I’m already seeing pro-forced birth Americans using this fact to support anti-abortion laws in the US while also promoting ground war in Syria.

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