ERBIL – Extremists of the Islamic State (ISIS) on Wednesday executed six men in the city of Mosul in Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh province for selling cigarettes, activists and eyewitnesses reported.
Smoking or selling cigarettes has been for years banned under the rule of the ISIS self-declared Caliphate in areas under the group’s control in Iraq and Syria. Those who violate ISIS regulations are exposed to brutal punishment, mostly public execution.
“The ISIS-led Islamic Police of Hisba arrested six men in Mosul on charges of selling cigarettes. They were then referred to the Sharia Court which ordered their immediate execution on Wednesday on charges of violating the rules imposed by their alleged Caliphate,” media activist Abdullah al-Malla told ARA News in Mosul.
The six men were publicly executed by firing squad in the Bursa square in central Mosul, eyewitnesses told ARA News.
Kampala — Starting this Thursday (Tomorrow), anyone found smoking in public will be arrested as the Tobacco Control Act takes effect.
These two stories had me wondering whether Tobacco Control was ratcheting up its war on smoking, using Syria and Uganda as test-beds for draconian new measures, which would – if successful – in due course be introduced into the Western world.
It depends whether the Islamic State’s hardline antismoking policy originated purely from Wahhabi Islam:
The American author and journalist, Steven Coll, has written how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who travelled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”
Isn’t it just as likely that it grew out of an alliance between Tobacco Control and the Wahhabist Islamic State? After all, H/T Rose, antismoking Michael Bloomberg has funded Islamic organisations:
The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, funded by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, lists a November 2009 grant to Muhammadiyah worth $393,234 on its Web site.
Among the grant’s stated purposes is “the issuance and dissemination of religious advice on the dangers of tobacco use.”
And Muhammadiyah issued a fatwah against smoking:
Muhammadiyah issued an edict banning its followers from smoking on Wednesday, basing its argument on the Koran, which bans Muslims from taking their own lives. It also urged the government and the House of Representatives to ratify the FCTC.
Fattah, however, maintained that the council did not receive funding to issue the edict.
“Muhammadiyah is committed to creating a clean environment and a healthy society. We have a program for that and Bloomberg knew of this program and they offered [to fund it],” he told The Jakarta Post.
Muhammadiyah adopted some elements of Wahhabism
If Wahhabist Muhammadiyah could be funded to issue religious fatwahs against smoking, why not the Wahhabist Islamic State as well?
My other thought was that the six cigarette sellers executed in Mosul were genuine martyrs, directly comparable to Christian martyrs in ancient Rome. The Christian church has always gained strength from the blood of its martyrs. There is no reason to suppose that it will be any different when the “religion” in question is that of placidly smoking tobacco.
I created and still maintain The Smokers’ Graveyard. For the most part, its occupants have been accidental victims of smoking bans, who have fallen from roofs or balconies or windows to their deaths. Given that a martyr is someone who is executed for their beliefs or practices, none of them really count as martyrs (in my view). But the six cigarette sellers of Mosul most certainly do.