Ziya Meral – A Theology of Guantanamo Bay


Note: My Turkish friend Ziya Meral wrote this six years ago. Today, my Lebanese friend Martin Accad sherd it on his Facebook wall. Nothing more appropriate, in light of the recent report on the CIA use of torture.

This is a sobering and dangerous text. Read and pray. I may change your worldview. It is also worth reading the comments.

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Thursday, 27 December 2007

Philosopher Giorgio Agamben reminds us of the Roman figure homo sacer – the Sacred Man – who, according to the Roman law, can be killed with impunity but cannot be sacrificed to gods. His biological life is divorced from political life putting him outside of the boundaries of what constitutes a human and what the rights of that human are. He not only does not belong to the realm of the ‘human’, but neither to the reality of the gods. What is not human and what does not have a ‘value’ can not be sacrificed to gods since its sacrifice would defile the sanctity of gods. Thus, homo sacer exists only as a biological body, not as a human. A theology which ascribes such a status inevitably shapes political forms.

During the 19th and 20th centuries a similar systematisation of which biological bodies would be ascribed the status of a ‘human’ was accomplished with the marriage of theological assumptions and the ‘findings’ of science that cemented the difference between biological life and political life. Theologically, there was developed the order of creation, levels of perfection and purity, and at which of these levels the Image of God is expressed in its perfect condition. Out of this cosmic ordering, there emerged the political theology that identified the nation, its security, significance and rights with this stage of advanced human lives, whose superiority has been proved by the shape of their skulls in line with the predetermined intellectual and athletic potential of ‘races’. Thus, Jews, Gypsies, mentally and physically handicapped were nothing but mere bodies that could and should be done away with so that they won’t ‘contaminate’ us. Continue reading “Ziya Meral – A Theology of Guantanamo Bay”

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