Our 12-hour journey yesterday was through desert, grasslands, winding valleys and mountainous slopes dashed with snow. Makin accompanied us and shared more about his life in this conflict-torn country.

At one point, Makin handed us his cell phone and instructed us to watch a video he set to play. He warned us that it would be upsetting.

The images were of an event that had happened not far from where we were then traveling. The act itself and the realization of its proximity haunted my dreams last night.

A horde of men were gathered many deep in a tight circle. They were yelling and jostling for position around the attraction at the center of the agitated gathering. Some hands were in the air, holding camera phones above the tumult. Others were being raised and thrust down in an unyielding rhythm. Hatred was apparent in each downward lunge.

The camera phone that was recording the commotion soon pieced through the veil of enraged men. The object of their anger was a slight teenage girl lying on her side in a fetal opposition with her arms desperately trying to shield her head. Her underwear had been temporarily pulled down to her ankles to add to her humiliation.

Her crime? Falling in love with somebody from a different sect, a Sunni Muslim boy.

Had she slept with him? No. Love itself was criminal enough.

The camera-phone video now picked up the soul-wrenching sound of her painful crying, interspersed with excruciating shrieks and pleas, as rocks rained down upon her. Many stones pummeled the softness of the target but others began to break through her cradled defense to strike her skull.

Others were ruthlessly stamping and kicking her – in the head, back, groin – and forcing her skirt temporaily above her waist to expose her to all. She momentarily fought the rocks to cover herself and make an appeal for clemency, her bloodied face being struck mutliple times during the process.

She then fell down, motionless.

The men were relentless. They stood directly above her, hurtling their missiles at great force and velocity. Arms and legs were in constant action like pistons, almost as if a competition were occurring to see who could heave the most rocks and kicks…or who would deliver the final death blow.

That final blow came in the form of a big concrete block smashed over her head.

It was a truly horrific sight that shocked the senses. A poor, defenseless girl encircled by a pack of wild dogs hell bent on pounding her into the earth. Blood splashed and gushed in a stream from her broken form. Blood-thirst temporality satisfied.

Here in a land of significant Biblical history, I thought of such an event that was broken up by Jesus. Yes, I’ve read the passages often, but I never dwelt upon the ferocity and barbarism involved with such a hideous execution.

And I thought of the courage of Jesus to challenge such a raw turbulence and unbridled desire for bloodshed.

The value of a woman here is marginal at best. They are merely the property of men. One false move and they lose their dignity, possessions, children, and lives.

It is in this environment that the orphaned and abandoned are created in good measure.


(ON THE EDGE: Life can be very lonely and precarious for Muslim women in oppressive societies)