Monday, March 27, 2006

Afghanistan Man Faced Death for Religious Conversion

  According to various news agencies, Abdul Rahman, 41, has been arrested in Afghanistan after his family accused him of becoming a Christian.  The Associated Press reported that Afghanistan’s Constitution is based on Sharia law which many Muslims interpret as requiring that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death.  Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada said “We are not against any particular religion in the world.  But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law.”


  One can only imagine what they would do if they were against other religions.   It must be that in Afghanistan, they’re very much for Islam.

  During a hearing it seems that the defendant confessed that he converted 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for a Christian relief group.  This is the crime for which he may die.

  No demonstrations by Muslims demanding freedom of choice were reported in response to this arrest in which a person could be killed.

  In fact, the sentiment may be the opposite: Senior Muslim clerics were demanding that the man be executed and warned that if the government caved in to “western” pressure, they will incite people to “pull him into pieces.”

  A possible alternative was discussed by a religious advisor, Moayuddin Baluch, to Afghanistan President Karzai.  It was suggested that the defendant might be mentally unfit and should not be punished.

  In other words, all Christians in Afghanistan are either crazy or should be killed.  Indeed, Mr. Rahman was set free on the pretense that there was insufficient evidence and that he may have been mentally unfit for trial.

  Yeah, right.

  The AP reported after his release that “hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting “Death to Christians!” marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision… to dismiss the case.  Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

  “Abdul Rahman must be killed.  Islam demands it,” said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz.  “The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion.”

  The international outrage over Rahman’s case put President Karzai in a difficult position because he also risked offending religious sensibilities in Afghanistan, where senior Muslim clerics have been united in calling for Rahman to be executed.”

  It is stories such as this that depress objective observers.  Afghanistan had the opportunity and support to embrace freedom.  They may have chosen otherwise.  It also makes a joke out of Muslim protests, particularly violent in Afghanistan, against the insulting Danish cartoons of Mohammed.   Isn’t this precisely the violent mindset the cartoons were attacking?  Exactly why would a non-Muslim have positive feelings towards the brand of Islam practiced by those Muslims who would kill Mr. Rahman for converting to Christianity?

  The question must be raised – is the brand of Islam practiced in Afghanistan, and other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, incompatible with personal freedom?  When will the Muslim community focus on the suffering caused by Islam as it is often practiced around the world?  Can the West be held responsible for this?

  One cannot help but notice the absence of protests around the world by angry Muslims who are upset that Muslims of Afghanistan and elsewhere have no freedom, under various versions sharia law, to choose their beliefs.  It allows the rest of the world to wonder if any particular Muslim is truly devout or simply intimidated, or if Islam only exists because of the threat of violence.

  Despite all this, the West STILL avoids the difficult questions about religion in general.

  If God is to be obeyed, and if the militant Afghanistani version of Islam and God is correct, then those seeking the death of the convert are right and liberal Muslims and the West are wrong.

  Yet no one argues that a religion is false – that what the Afghanistani clerics believe is untrue; the world still cannot handle that argument.

  Yet it’s the argument that MUST be made if the world is to be civilized.  One can bring the argument evenfurther:

  It doesn’t matter what a God wants and we are to do what is right and just no matter what.  In other words, we should not do what is wrong even if a God says we can do what is wrong.

  The world has been caught in a religious war in which the only defense is promoting a humanism that can civilize religious beliefs.  In a world where a small number of persons can create massively destructive weapons, it is unbelievable that no world leader yet has the nerve to say that “no god will save us, we must save ourselves.”


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