"Young Israelis dream of being inventors, and their role models are the Israeli innovators who made it to the Nasdaq. Hezbollah youth dream of being martyrs, and their role models are Islamic militants who made it to the Next World."
— Thomas Friedman, New York Times, August 9
The act of infanticide, the practice of intentionally causing the death of an infant, is rarely practiced today. Yet in the Middle East, it has taken on a new form. Under the direction of some leading Muslim religious figures, some parents in the region are encouraging their children to commit suicide as a religious act — then celebrating it.
Since Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has led Hezbollah, the terrorist organization has put the death of Lebanese children on a pedestal. His Ashura speech of May 1997 praised parents who beseeched Allah to "bless" their children with the honor of martyrdom.
Four months later, Sheik Nasrallah's 18 year-old son became a "martyr" after battling Israeli forces. The Hezbollah leader appeared on Al-Manar TV and thanked Allah for his son's "martyrdom," saying it brought him "the greatest feeling of joy that a father can know."
Many Lebanese Shiites were inspired by his words and to this day they want the same for their children. Sanaa Younes told the San Jose Mercury News on August 3, "He gave his son to Islam. … It's what every parent would want."
On July 23, another Shiite mother told the Boston Globe,"We are ready to give our children for Sheik Nasrallah."
Hezbollah begins brainwashing young children to be willing to kill themselves from an early age."Hezbollah," a 1997 book on the terrorist group by a Reuters Middle East correspondent, Hala Jaber, details how the terror organization and its TV channel incite Muslim youth to terrorism: "Al-Manar ... is dominated by religious programs. Pictures and names of martyrs are screened, supported by verses from the Koran which glorify such deaths. The aim is simple: to indoctrinate the minds of the young ... with the idea that those who seek martyrdom will be rewarded with more pleasure than can ever be achieved during this earthly lifetime."
In an interview with the Boston Globe on August 1, two young members of Hezbollah, "Hussein" and "Hamid," described their meticulous training, which began at age 14. Hussein explained, "It is the matter that we are not afraid of death. ...This is the center of the training of a fighter, to make him unafraid of death, so you prefer to die rather than live humiliated."
The mother of a Hezbollah martyr, Bassel Al-Din, appeared on Al-Manar on May 22, 2005. She wept with happiness as she told the channel what happened when her child became a martyr: "Bassel had a wish. ... Whenever I told him I wanted to marry him off, he would say, ‘Yes, mother, you'll marry me off like this in paradise.' And indeed, the martyr Bassel got married in paradise. I congratulate the black-eyed virgins who took Bassel from me."
A "Mother's Day Special" on Al-Manar on November 11, 2004, featured comments from many mothers of martyrs. "All I want is martyrdom. I'm willing for all my children to become martyrs," one said.
"It's true I sacrificed a son, but others have sacrificed two or three. I hope more of my sons will become martyrs," another said.
As "Nasrallah, a Name for Arab Children," an article on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting News Network, reported August 13, over the past month, many parents in the Arab world have become so smitten with Sheik Nasrallah that they are naming their babies after him.This is especially true in the Palestinian Arab territories, where more than 50 newborns have been given the name Nasrallah in the past few weeks.
Sheik Nasrallah's Islamo-infanticide is also popular in Iran, where it originates. The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, praised the "lion cubs of Hezbollah" in a speech that aired July 18 on the Iranian News Channel.
Iran's Fars News Agency covered a July 31 rally by representatives of Lebanese women's organizations who chanted, "Lebanese people are proud of being martyred." Pictures from the rally show Iranian teenage girls sporting the latest suicide belts and holding posters of their heartthrob, Sheik Nasrallah. Some of the girls also carried pictures of female Palestinian Arab suicide bombers such as Hanadi Jaradat and Wafaa Idris.
A daughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, Dr. Zahra Mostafavi, sent a letter to Sheik Nasrallah on July 31 that appeared in the Tehran Times. "The jihad you have commenced at present is not to defend a land alone, but the entity of Islam, Quran, and all Muslims. … The only bitter and heartrending side of the holy jihad is the martyrdom of the Lebanese and Palestinian hero children … whose martyrdom is moving for every free man," she wrote.
Until Muslim religious leaders in countries such as Lebanon and Iran speak out against child martyrs, this phenomenon can only be expected to grow.
Mr. Stalinsky is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.org).