From The Wall Street Journal
8 October 2004


Letter to the Editor:


How to Stop Barbarous Public Murders


We read with great admiration the article of Amir Taheri (“`Exhibition Killing,'” editorial page, Sept. 30), who courageously criticizes Muslim leaders for the disingenuous way they denounce the exhibition killings in Iraq. Their condemnation is based on political expediency, not morality.


It would be a mistake to remain passive before such barbarism. As parents who have suffered deep pain at the loss of a son to this form of terrorism, we believe there are a number of concrete actions people of conscience can take to help minimize, if not eradicate, exhibition killings.


First, we must urge the media, especially the Arab media, to exercise responsible judgment on whether and how they broadcast and publish terrorist-produced imagery and messages. Any amplification of their voice empowers terrorists with an illusion of achievement and whets their appetite for more cruelty.


Second, we must urge leaders of the international community to declare all forms of exhibition killings — the murder of an innocent person for the purpose of broadcasting grievances — a crime against humanity, with all the legal and moral ramifications that this entails.


Third, we should implore religious leaders of all denominations to proclaim these crimes a capital sin, or heresy, punishable by religion’s harshest instruments — excommunication, hellfire and damnation. In particular, we should call upon Muslim clerics in the West to use the Islamic instruments of Fatwa, Apostasy, Takfir and Fasad (corruption) to excommunicate and exorcise both the perpetrators of exhibition killing and the clerics who legitimize it.


For example, there are dozens of religious leaders in the West who command the credentials to officially proclaim al-Zarqawi an apostate, namely, one who falsifies the roots of Islam. Their reluctance to do so encourages al-Zarqawi’s followers and sympathizers to confuse his logic of killing with the logic of Islam.


Exhibition killings threaten the fabric of civilized society; it requires all our efforts to see this hideous practice eradicated.


Judea and Ruth Pearl
Los Angeles, CA


(The writers are the parents of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. They head the Daniel Pearl Foundation