When Wafa Idris became the first Palestinian woman suicide bomber in late January, she set a precedent for women engaging in such acts of martyrdom in Islam, according much of the Islamic press.
The Middle Eastern Media Research Institute (http://www.memri.org) issues an in-depth review of the Arab and Muslim press, revealing overwhelming support for the 27-year-old Idris’ suicide. The few articles that examined Idris’ personal life and problems that may have led to the suicide bombing — such as social pressure over being divorced and childless — were soon overshadowed by tributes to her courage and faith.
The Egyptian Islamic weekly “Al-Sha’ab” editorializes that “It is a woman who teaches you today, oh Muslim women, the true meaning of liberation, with which the women’s right activists have tempted you . . . [which] is the liberation of the body from the trials and tribulations of this world..and the acceptance of death with a powerful, courageous embrace.”
Idris was often raised above the level of a regular martyr. The weekly “Al-Arabi” intones, “If it was the Holy Spirit that placed a child in Mary’s womb, perhaps that same holy spirit placed the bomb in the heart of Wafa, and enveloped her pure body with dynamite.” There was some debate about the protocol of women engaged in “jihad” or holy struggle for the faith (for instance, whether she should be accompanied by a chaperone, or whether women recuits should be accepted given that so many men are willing volunteers).
But most publications agreed that, in the words of the Israeli Arab newspaper, “Kul Al Arab,” Idris set a precedent, and that “after [a women suicide bombing] happens again, it will become routine and no one will talk about it any more.” On Feb. 27 it was reported that a second woman suicide bombing had taken place.