Chris Cuomo Worries: ISIS Rapes Reinforce Negative 'Impression' of Islam

CNN's Chris Cuomo on Friday fretted that a new report on ISIS and its rape culture would reinforce negative perceptions of Muslims. The New Day anchor talked to Dr. Qanta Ahmed, an author and human rights advocate. 

Reacting to a front page story on the New York Times, Cuomo played a clip of a woman recounting brutal violence at the hands of ISIS. He then lectured, "This feeds the impression that these Muslims are animals, savages and their faith makes them that way. And it feeds an impression of what Islam is. What is your response to that?" 

Ahmed, the author of a book on the subject of what it's like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia, swatted ths critique away:  

QANTA AHMED: This is Islamism at work. We've talked a lot about this on this show. Islamism is totalitarianism. Sometimes that's hard to understand. Totalitarianism means absolute domination of the self. These Islamists are dominating to extinction girls and women. It's very calculated. Number one, it destroys the individual. That's a lady that has fortunately survived. Others will die in the process of sepsis or bleeding or hemorrhage. An entire people is being emasculated. They're being separated from their men and women and girls are lost forever. Sixty percent of Yazidis are abducted and remain in disappearance.

Back in June, Cuomo insisted, "Certain people reserve 'terrorism' only for Islamist extremists, and that's part of the bigotry that we're dealing with here in our evolution of the understanding of the threat in America."              

On another occasion, he derided commentator Pam Geller's contest to draw the Prophet Muhammad: "You're throwing a stone," making an "overt provocation." 

See Mediaite, which first reported Friday's story, for more. 

A partial transcript of the August 14 segment is below: 

8:40

CHRIS CUOMO: We have a new and very painful look into a shocking movement within ISIS. There is an internal system of sex trafficking. Thousands of Yazidi girls and women taken from their homes and families, used as sex slaves by ISIS fighters. The details of what's happening to these girls being uncovered in an article in "The New York Times." There's also a documentary from Frontline on the same topic. Here to discuss, the author of "In the Land of Invisible Women," Dr. Qanta Ahmed, friend of show.

...

CUOMO: Rape, terrible, not knew. However, this delusional rational justification is a magnification of what's wrong with ISIS. So how do they convince themselves that what they're doing is not only okay but somehow righteous? 

AHMED: ISIS has developed an extraordinary literature in their own department of Fatwa, justifying that this is Islamic somehow. First, they dehumanize the Yazidis by labeling them as completely separate infidels and somehow Satan worshipers, a terrible label on these venerable, defenseless people. Then, they teach the fighters, just like in Pakistan, the children that I met were taught that they would get salvation through suicide or martyrdom operations, they're teaching recruits that there is redemption through rape and justification based on elements that they claim to be Islamic or Koranic, which are elements that I don't know about. 

CUOMO: Common sense says you should never believe that. You must know - some part of you must tell you that this is not okay. So how does this work? Are they just accepting it out of convenience or do you think that these guys really under - really believe that this is good, what they're doing? 

AHMED: Well, rape is a weapon of war. It's well described in many conflicts. And I think part of this is the profound objectification of the women. They describe slave markets. Women who have survived this, even a heroic Yazidi man posing as a slave - as a buyer of potential slaves has rescued women and provided documentation of this, numbering them, determining if they are menstruating at the age of 12 or younger. It's, it's first turning the human being into an object and then also seeking these candidates, who some of them are traveling from overseas recruiting to offer them sexual license. They often come from countries where sexuality is extremely taboo. Incidentally, countries like - of my heritage, Pakistan, or other Muslim majority countries, are some of the worst offenders in sex trafficking because of that puritanism. 

CUOMO: Just to be very clear, they sell it to themselves as something that is somehow purifying for them and legitimate. But the cost on these young women, often girls, is forever. And let's take one sound from - one piece of sound from the Frontline documentary just so you get a sense of what these young women have to deal with. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They did everything to me, that's why I'm still in pain. I can't sleep. I wake up at 3 a.m. because I remember their smell. Their smell makes me brush my teeth more than 10 times a day. It will stay with me forever.

CUOMO: Let's finish this part of the discussion on a point that you feel often needs to be made. This feeds the impression that these Muslims are animals, savages and their faith makes them that way. And it feeds an impression of what Islam is. What is your response to that? 

AHMED: This is Islamism at work. We've talked a lot about this on this show. Islamism is totalitarianism. Sometimes that's hard to understand. Totalitarianism means absolute domination of the self. These Islamists are dominating to extinction girls and women. It's very calculated. Number one, it destroys the individual. That's a lady that has fortunately survived. Others will die in the process of sepsis or bleeding or hemorrhage. An entire people is being emasculated. They're being separated from their men and women and girls are lost forever. Sixty percent of Yazidis are abducted and remain in disappearance.

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