One 20 yr old woman dead:
Deputy Director of Dubai Police’s Search and Rescue Department Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Burqibah said it was an incident he would never forget. “The father took his wife and kids to the beach for picnic and fun. The kids were swimming in the beach when suddenly, the 20-year-old girl started drowning and screaming for help. Two rescue men were at the beach, and they rushed to help the girl. However, there was one obstacle which prevented them from reaching the girl and helping her. This obstacle was the belief of this man who considered that if these men touched his daughter, then this would dishonour her. It cost him the life of his daughter.”
He continued, “The father was a tall and strong man. He started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them. He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than being touched by a strange man.”
This is not the only death I remember under such circumstances:
Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers. About 800 pupils were inside the school in the holy city of Mecca when the tragedy occurred.
According to the al-Eqtisadiah daily, firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam.
One witness said he saw three policemen "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya." The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police - known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them."
Lest one confuse this with the Christian notion of purity that led to the martyrdom of particular women saints, keep in mind:
- in Christianity, martyrdom is a choice -- it cannot be imposed;
- simply touching a stranger doesn't make one unchaste;
- there is a difference between saving and attacking (with impure intentions);
- even when unchaste behaviour has occurred, Christians believe that sins can be cleansed through confession;
- "Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile” (Mark 7:15);
- "To the clean all things are clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean; in fact, both their minds and their consciences are tainted" (Titus 1:15).
It's that last snippet from Saint Paul's letter to Titus that is so revealing about the mentality at work here. To infer wickedness (either on the part of the would-be rescuers or the ensuing status of the women they touched) is to belie a world view at odds with the Christian reality. Each person has an inviolable dignity that cannot be erased, and to suggest that a daughter could be "spoiled," and become the source of dishonour is tragic.
Blessed be the true God who embraces all who turn to him, and who -- though our sins be as scarlet -- makes us white as wool through the generous shedding of his blood. Blessed be the true God who would have died trying to save those girls, and who already did just that on Calvary. That's true love and authentic chivalry.