Religion in the News
A student, Amna Bawzeer has passed away following a heart attack on campus of her University in Saudi Arabia. While the news itself is tragic enough, the story and accusations which follow are enough to make you gasp, literally. Al-Shihri and Batrawy’s article discussing the aftermath of Bawzeer’s death is a sad and eye opening in its discussion of religion as it played a role in the story of Amna’s tragic death. According to some accusations which came about after her passing, paramedics were not permitted to enter the campus initially because they were male and thereby would be breaching of religious based University rules. There’s been outrage at this tragic event and the possibility of having been able to save this young girls life had the University put religion and rule aside in the case of emergency.
As a deeply religious individual myself, I understand the sanctity of religious rule. But what I cannot fathom is that anyone in their right mind would ever stand to risk someone else’s life due to their religious beliefs. Would I personally die for my beliefs? Yes. Would I allow someone else to die because of my beliefs? Absolutely not. And that is where I feel that this case has crossed all the lines. While I respect that the University is based on some sacred beliefs about mixing of gender and chastity, I cannot fathom the thought that University staff would block paramedics from entering to save Amna’s life in order to adhere to proper religious conduct. These accusations anger and shock me. I cannot help but be appalled at the religious extremism reflected in these tragic circumstances. What is the nature of these beliefs that would allow one to act in this way?
In fact, the article also mentions another case where similar allegations arose in 2002 when fifteen students were killed in a fire because they were not allowed to escape as they were not wearing their religious headscarves and traditional coverings. This is by all accounts wrong. I question and outright criticize any religion which puts belief and adherence to ritual and tradition over the life of a human being. I’m appalled at the accusations brought up in this article. Should we as human beings deny someone urgent care and help simply because it goes against belief or ritual? I feel religion ought to empower and save, but in this case it was evidently a flawed interpretation which has had tragic consequences and reflects a need for some change.
While Amna’s death could have indeed been an unrelated tragedy, the fact that this article brings up more than one instance in which lives were lost because of a fundamentalist religion leads me to question religious interpretation. We cannot be so ignorant to allow innocent girls to lose their lives in emergencies in order to uphold a religious belief. Cases like these are where religious extremism crosses the line; it is no longer religious interpretation, it is murder. Tragedies like these will probably turn many into skeptics about religion. I still hold strongly that religion can be a safe place of fulfillment, but reading this article has left me saddened. I wonder how actual followers of this particular religion are feeling about this news on Amna’s death. There is undoubtedly nothing in this world more valuable than human life, and if ones religious interpretation cannot support that then exactly what is the basis of this religion, and why practice it? I’m curious.
Saddened M.B.: #205