By Janet Tassel
December 1 was World AIDS Day, and the UN has proclaimed December World AIDS month. The theme of this year’s observance is “Getting to Zero.” Activists have welcomed the many greetings and pledges and speeches, like President Obama’s promising antiretroviral treatment to six million people globally by 2013.
Our invaluable friends at MEMRI, The Middle East Media Research Institute, marked the event by taking a look at some theories about AIDS emanating from the Middle East in recent years. For example, Syrian Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments Muhammad Abd Al-Sattar Al-Sayyid feels that AIDS patients should be stoned before they spread their disease. Indeed, he says, “The entire world, from the US to the most distant country, acknowledges that if they had stoned the fornicators, and prevented abomination, things would have been much better.”
But there are less drastic ways of treating the disease. Not long after the aforementioned stoning cure was discussed, Iranian Nuclear Chief Mohammad Sa’idi explained why Iran produces heavy water [deuterium oxide, used in certain reactors]: Drinking it, he claims, helps fight not only AIDS, but cancer as well. Now, he’s not talking about one glass of the stuff: “We are talking about a certain period of time. In many countries that deal with these diseases, patients use this kind of water instead of regular water, and consume it daily in order to heal their diseases.”
Perhaps heavy water was the reason for the exciting, but cryptic, announcement by Hosein Entezami, the spokesman for the Iranian Supreme Council for National Security: “I would like to deliver the good news that two years ago [that would be about 2003], the cure for AIDS was discovered in Iran. It has been tested on volunteers and the results were positive ones.”
Actually, says Hamas “TV Scientist” Dr. Ahmad Al-Muzain, it was none other than the Prophet Muhammad himself, according to one of the hadith, who discovered the cure for AIDS; indeed, perhaps unknown to most, the pharmaceutical company Bayer learned about this study and “derived great benefit from it.” With the Prophet’s formula, Bayer devised a course of five pills, and “believe it or not, my brothers,” made AIDS history. And here, all along, was the answer: “If a fly falls into your drink, you should dip it in the drink, and then dispose of the fly, because one of its wings bears a disease, and the other wing bears the cure.”
At least the “TV Scientist” was generous enough to share The Prophet’s cure with the audience. Not so Yemenite Sheik Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani, who claims he has the cure and knows the hadith, but his lips are sealed. The reason? Because “if we disclose it, one company or another might grab it from us.” In an interview on Al-Jazeera, he is asked if he would share his invention with the Americans if they removed his name from the terrorism list. “All we care about,” the interviewer says, “is to benefit those who are sick…” To which the cunning Sheik replies, “This is a humanitarian matter….We know the value of our drug…and we did not tell them what sum they should offer. Instead, we say to them: ‘Make your bids.’”
Then, of course, there is the matter of Israel. There will be no end to scourges like AIDS and cancer as long as Israel is permitted to unload their poisons on the unsuspecting. According to Hizbullah MP Ismail Sukariyya, 200,000 cases of kidney failure in Upper Egypt, 200,000 patients on dialysis, because of “the Israeli agricultural carcinogenic medicine” imported into Egypt, along with the Israeli food products and fruits “drowning in chemicals.” And worst of all, “Let’s not even mention the AIDS girls that they are sending there.”
But the cause, says Egyptian cleric Hazem Abu Ismail, is of course promiscuity. “In America, in Europe, in countries where promiscuity prevails, and even in Africa—you’ve seen how AIDS has spread….The only exception is the Islamic region…the only safe haven, Allah be praised.” In order to forestall such behavior in the Muslim countries, it is necessary to turn to Islamic law: “Islamic law has instated a punishment for thieves—whoever steals has his hand chopped off…[d]uring the first 100 years of Islam, there were only four cases of theft.” Curing AIDS, he implies, will require something along the same lines.
The site continues with a fulsome array of theories. One intriguing approach is taken by a Lebanese TV host, Maria Ma’louf, who discusses AIDS in the context of the ten plagues brought upon Egypt by the Hebrew God in the book of Exodus. After all—and this is an interesting concept—if the God of the Jews could deliver frogs, lice, a blood-filled Nile, and so on to the death of the first-born, why not AIDS? And Sars, and Mad Cow disease and Avian flu, for that matter? Unfortunately, Maria gets diverted from this provocative train of thought into a flailing attack on Donald Rumsfeld and neo-cons. Pity.
Also featured is a clip from way back when Libyan children were being injected with the AIDS virus, as well as a discomfitingly frank lecture on anal sex and feminine hygiene from a Bahraini “family matters expert” in full niqab.
And of course no discussion of AIDS and other diseases in the Muslim world would be complete without the obligatory Friday sermon. This well-known clip, by the mellifluous Palestinian Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, includes the expected:
With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers.
And the inscrutable:
Ask Britain what it did to the Jews in the early sixth century. What did they do to the Jews? They expelled them, tortured them, and prevented them from entering Britain for more than 300 years.
He who made Russia disappear overnight is capable of making America [and Israel] disappear and fall, Allah willing.
Altogether riproaring. Once again, we are deeply indebted to the peerless MEMRI for illuminating the mystifying, and problematic, landscape of Islam and the Middle East.