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Assault Against Islam?

The New York Times reports on the Afghan reaction to Western objections to the Abdul Rahman prosecution. Rahman, you may recall, faces death for converting from Islam to Christianity:

The case had fueled feelings among many here of a sense of assault against Islam worldwide, coming after widely publicized cases involving the desecration of the Koran in Guantánamo Bay in 2004 by American soldiers interrogating prisoners and, more recently, cartoons published in Europe of the Prophet Muhammad.

Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niyazi, an Egyptian educated in Islamic law, who attended one of the gatherings today, said, "There have been serial attacks on the Islamic world recently, starting with insulting the Holy Koran Quran, insulting the prophet of Islam, and now converting to Christianity by an Afghan."

Trying to prevent people from being killed for their religious beliefs is not an "assault against Islam." It's defense against Islam, or to be precise against a certain strand of Islam that regrettably cannot be dismissed as just some unimportant lunatic fringe.

BU2L (mail):

The case had fueled feelings among many here of a sense of assault against Islam worldwide

That's just really disgusting. You have to wonder when will the little bell in the reporter's head go off, and say, "I know you have an agenda, but let's have at least a pretense of dignity and fairness, if not self-preservation."
3.24.2006 7:41pm
Steve:
Perhaps we could accuse them in turn of waging a war against Christmas.
3.24.2006 8:13pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
I could be all wet on this, but didn't it come out that there was in fact no "desecration of the Koran" by U.S. personnel at Guantanamo? Didn't it basically turn out to be the equivalent an urban legend or somesuch?

- Alaska Jack
3.24.2006 8:15pm
Humble Law Student:
Alaska Jack,

Since when does the MSM let bothersome little details like "facts" stand in the way of a story?
3.24.2006 8:25pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

I could be all wet on this, but didn't it come out that there was in fact no "desecration of the Koran" by U.S. personnel at Guantanamo? Didn't it basically turn out to be the equivalent an urban legend or somesuch?

No no, you are wrong - there was a memo written by Bush's former CO at the TX Air Guard, that totally confirms that the Koran was desecrated. By Cheney. He used copies of it for skeet-shooting.
3.24.2006 8:37pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
Eugene, I agree with you completely. However, I think I can explain the thinking involved. You state:

Trying to prevent people from being killed for their religious beliefs is not an "assault against Islam." It's defense against Islam, or to be precise against a certain strand of Islam that regrettably cannot be dismissed as just some unimportant lunatic fringe.
For the people at issue who abide by that "certain strand of Islam": (a) efforts to convert people from Islam to Christiantity (or any other religion) qualify as an "assault" on Islam; and (b) efforts to prevent the execution of one who has converted from Islam to Christianity (or other religion) qualify as an effort to "convert" that person, or perhaps more precisely, to preserve his previous conversion and/or encourage others to convert. Obviously, death threats have a deterrent effect on conversion. To the extent we make such threats less effective, we encourage conversion. Thus, the "assault" on Islam.

Islam as the Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like -- mentally, spiritually -- but you can never really leave.
3.24.2006 8:48pm
Tom Trigger (mail) (www):
If Islam demands that those converting to Christianity be killed, then it seems an "assault against Islam" is long overdue.
3.24.2006 9:05pm
byomtov (mail):
I certainly share the outrage over this matter.

I am very glad that so many people realize that the actions of a religious group cannot be justified by reference to that group's beliefs.
3.24.2006 9:16pm
Tom952 (mail):
The situation with Islam, a de facto transnational political organization calling itself a religion and making war against much of the rest of the world is I believe a challenge not anticipated by the Founding Fathers when they drafted the portion of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

In order to protect and preserve the nation from this threat, Congress is going to have to recognize the fact that a religious organization has declared war against the United States and its citizens, and deal with it as it would deal with a traditional hostile political entity. In addition, that recognition will necessarily single out that particular religion, or perhaps all religions that share similar hostile traits for special treatment under the law.

Comments?
3.24.2006 9:39pm
pst314 (mail):
The case fuels feelings among civilized people that Islam is an intolerant, violent religion which has chosen to be the deadly enemy of everyone who does not wish to be a slave. Just how many Muslims take a stand for Rahman and all dissidents will tell us how true this perception is. So far it seems as if tolerance is a minority position in Islam.
3.24.2006 10:17pm
PoohPoohBear:
And the MSM is afraid of Christian Evamgelicals? the Crusaders were all bad guys?
3.24.2006 10:18pm
Joan of Argghh!:

Trying to prevent people from being killed for their religious beliefs is not an "assault against Islam."

It is actually in Islam's best interest to see that preventing folks from being killed for their religious beliefs is all that is keeping them relatively "safe" ... for now.
3.24.2006 10:21pm
Cornellian (mail):
The case fuels feelings among civilized people that Islam is an intolerant, violent religion which has chosen to be the deadly enemy of everyone who does not wish to be a slave.

There's a reason that Islam means "submission."
3.24.2006 10:24pm
jahoulih:
A small point: it doesn't make any sense to refer to "Abdul Rahman" as "Rahman." "Abdul Rahman" means something like "Servant of the Compassionate One," i.e., "Servant of God"; "Rahman" by itself means "Compassionate One," i.e., "God." Calling him "Rahman" is a bit like calling someone named Christopher "Christ" for short.
3.24.2006 10:46pm
ajftoo (mail):
Funny how Egyptian, Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niyazi represents "many here". But I guess since he's "educated in Islamic law" we should take him seriously, the man is a Doctor after all!

One does wonder if the good Doctor is the same guy as Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi. And are either related to Greg Packer?

Paper of Record.

If the only way out is death, then it's a cult not a religion.
3.24.2006 10:56pm
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
It took a long time, but we're finally beginning to suspect [realize?] that in spite of feel good propaganda, it ain't a 'fringe,' but a substantial minority, if not a majority in some countries.

Now the holdout is that opposing this is a "defense of Islam." Works for our propaganda purposes, so long as we realize underneath that this is in no way really a defense of Islam. This is a defense of those who are on the chopping block of this portion of Islam.

Islam, insofar as it is relevant to the US and unbelievers, is how Muslims do. Whether they ultimately reject this loud and militant group is still up in the air - but the counterreformation against the Wahhabists is certainly is not a defacto defense of Islam. Just as the rejection of militant Christian militant warfare after the 30 years war was not a defense of Christianity, but a subservence of imperialistic fervent belief to 'live and let live.'
3.24.2006 10:58pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Quite simply, Islam is the enemy. The sooner we realize it and start fighting back, the better.
3.24.2006 11:08pm
Bezuhov (mail):
Think this particular abuse of it might save us from our own overgrown victimology industry?
3.24.2006 11:11pm
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
"Now the holdout is that opposing this is a "defense of Islam." Works for our propaganda purposes, so long as we realize underneath that this is in no way really a defense of Islam. This is a defense of those who are on the chopping block of this portion of Islam."

To expound, why the important distinction?

Eye on the objectives. The ultimate goal is not the protection of Islam - Islam, as a credible religion, may be a casualty of this war, its dogma dissected and its followers discredited as warlike and xenophobic. The goal of this war is not the protection of Islam, but the protection of those threatened by the evil spawn known as Wahhabism, whether they are believers and unbelievers.
3.24.2006 11:12pm
Taimyoboi:
In Afghanistan's defense, there remains a strong likelihood that the case will be resolved satisfactorily.

See this story from Breitbart.

I do think though, that politically, depending on the way this issue is resolved, this could break the entire foreign policy initiatives of the Bush administration.

Much as I would be disappointed to see that happen, I think that many people will find it hard to continue to support the causes in Afghanistan and Iraq if they fail such a basic test as this one.
3.24.2006 11:14pm
David Timothy Beito (mail) (www):
What is meant by "resolved satisfactorily?" Declaring the man "mentally ill" and/or deporting him? These alternatives would hardly seem sufficient especially for those who want to depict Afghanistan as a "free society" which merits the continued expense of American blood and treasure.
3.24.2006 11:53pm
stealthlawprof (mail) (www):
Many of us would like to think that these bizarre episodes reflect some dangerous but small cadre of radical Muslims, but the continuing, deafening silence of the rest of Islam -- other countries and Islamic persons in free countries -- is obliterating that happy thought.

As Taimyoboi anticipates, times like these make me (and likely lots of others) consider becoming much more isolationist, at least with reference to the Islamic world. Why should we have troops over there propping up a government that believes we should all be murdered? Maybe we need to withdraw our troops -- and have them scoop up Abdul Rahman on the way out of town.
3.24.2006 11:55pm
GregD:
" I say we take off and nuke the entire {Islamic world] from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. " - Aliens

My two cents.
3.25.2006 12:17am
Lev:
Mohammed's religion must be really childish and defective if the only way to deal with those who attempt to leave it is to kill them, like the death strip along the Berlin Wall.
3.25.2006 12:33am
Barry P. (mail):
Some of you might want to take a look at this, from one of the Dubai papers:

http://search.gulfnews.com/articles/06/03/24/10027888.html

Here's the good part:

Dr Al Haddad added: "If this penalty is carried out, it will protect many weak-willed people from deserting their religion."
3.25.2006 12:49am
AST (mail):
This is the same religion that tells people that by blowing themselves up to kill "infidels" they'll go straight to paradise. That, to me, is indistinguishable from human sacrifice, and that's where religious freedom ends.

If they were offering their children to Moloch, nobody would suggest that they are entitled to their beliefs. Why is this any different?
3.25.2006 1:05am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
If they were offering their children to Moloch, nobody would suggest that they are entitled to their beliefs.


The sad thing is that this statement is not true. There would be defenders. "Their ways are not our ways, and who are we to judge?"
3.25.2006 1:19am
Conrad (mail):
"There have been serial attacks on the Islamic world recently."


Surely that's a typo and be actually said "by" not "on".
3.25.2006 2:15am
Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat (mail):
He left out a few recent attacks on the Islamic world, like the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Iraq, the slaughter of a Muslim wedding party in Jordan, the suicide bombing of the Abquiq oil facility in Saudi Arabia, the bombing of the Sharm al-Sheikh resort in Egypt, the string of assassinations in Lebenon, gunmen attacking government buildings in Afghanistan, the bombing of the Marriot in Jakarta, the rape of Darfur.

I wonder why?
3.25.2006 2:45am
MadVeterinarian (mail):
I'd like to agree with stealthlawprof, it's not only the fact that this is happening, but the silence across the Islamic world that is chilling. If this is in fact a minority, where are all the moderate voices? Has any Islamic body come out against this?
3.25.2006 3:15am
MarkM:
I think there is a serious problem in the way Islam is practiced today by many of its strands but people go too far in saying that Islam itself is the problem. Not so long ago, prohibitions against lending and borrowing at interest in the Bible were taken seriously by Christians. Christians eventually found ways of ignoring inconvenient passages like this (and with so-called "Islamic banking," the prohibition is being weakened in Islam as well). As another example, Britain still has laws against blasphemy or advocating the abolition of the monarchy but these laws have been gathering dust for decades.
I'm being blunt but that's more or less what needs to happen in Islam. Neither isolationism nor religious warfare are viable options. It is worth pointing out that in most Islamic countries, even those that follow Sharia officially, the death penalty for apostacy is very rarely carried out.
As for whether the death penalty for apostacy is supported by "most" Muslims, why not collect opinion statistics instead of making unsupported claims about what Muslims do or don't believe? "The Muslim community" is not under an obligation to immediately condemn every wing-nut action done under the banner of Islam. Should conservatives speak up every time an extreme right-winger does something outrageous? If they did, I don't think they would have time for anything else.
3.25.2006 4:13am
Barry P. (mail):
Let me say, as an infidel who lives in a relatively liberal part of the Islamic world, this story is about as controversial here as the execution of Ted Bundy or Tookie Williams in the US. That is, the main outrage is at foreign intervention in what is considered a non-controversial matter of domestic policy. Americans get their dander up when foreign anti-death-penalty protesters insert themselves into US executions, and the moslems feel the same way in this case.

It is a mainstream, and not radical, belief in Islam that apostasy is the greatest sin - greater even than murder. This is a part of the world where a murderer can be absolved of imprisonment or execution by the payment of $50,000 to the victim's family - and that is not a controversial idea.

Apostasy is seen as a sin against the community, the ummah. Any society that champions collective over individual rights will judge crimes against the "people" as more severe than any crime against a person.
3.25.2006 5:06am
Fub:
I agree that Trying to prevent people from being killed for their religious beliefs is not an "assault against Islam", but a "defense against Islam".

But I think it pessimistic to estimate that Islam is as far behind our civilization as the Reformation.

The last execution in (what is now) the USA for the crime of being of the wrong religious persuasion was in about 1660, long after the Reformation. The Puritans of Massachusetts executed Mary Barrett Dyer, a Quaker, for violating the law that banned Quakers from the colony.

So there is at least a plausible argument that Islam only 350 years or so behind American civilization, in this particular aspect.
3.25.2006 5:54am
HolyCrappoly (mail):
Hmmm... The Collective, the ummah, defense of the hive mind.

We are Borg.
Resistance is futile.

Some much for the Religion of Peace(tm) being compatible with the rest.

As man further tries to differentiate himself from the animal kingdom, do we keep having to look at this religion of the mohhamedians (piss be upon them) and be reminded what it's like to be nothing but an animal?

Killing the women, killing the "apostates," hurting the collective. Sounds more like some bull$hit herd of lions than humans with thought and the ability to differentiate and evolve from their animal ancestry.

Anyone else seeing this?
3.25.2006 7:35am
pst314 (mail):
"it doesn't make any sense to refer to 'Abdul Rahman' as 'Rahman'".

Thanks for pointing that out. I, for one, find such things fascinating.
3.25.2006 8:39am
pst314 (mail):
"...people go too far in saying that Islam itself is the problem."

I disagree. Look at what the Koran says. Look at what the hadith/sunna say that Mohammed did and said. The problem is not just in the accumulated laws and traditions of Islam. It's in Islam's roots. And since the Koran is supposed to be word-for-word the word of God dictated to Mohammed, it cannot be questioned. And since Mohammed is supposed to have been a perfect man, the perfect model for all to emulate, then everything he did--no matter how vile--must be regarded as good.
3.25.2006 8:46am
twwren:
I can think of nothing remotely analogous to the barbaric behavior of the Afgan judiciary in the name of Islam.

John Hathorne
3.25.2006 10:29am
Patricia:
Again and again, they repeat the lie of the "desecration" of the Koran. Either they are insane or they are trying to incite violence.
3.25.2006 10:33am
Rami1 (mail):
Eugene, the problem is that this really is an insult to Islam because Islam has from the very beginning held that once one becomes a Muslim, one cannot apostasize and live--it is too threatening to Islam's belief that it is the final and perfect revealed religion (thus Islamic persecution of Bahais, who, although a revealed scriptural religion, like Judaism and Christianity, came after Islam and thus cannot qualify for second-class Dhimmi status).

We in the west simply cannot believe that something like freedom of religion could be insulting to Islam, but our belief betrays our fundamental disconnect with Islamic belief. These guys aren't joking--they take their religion seriously. That doesn't mean we have to kowtow to it, but we should realize that they mean what they say.
3.25.2006 11:03am
Cornellian (mail):
Let us suppose that Afghan law does, in fact, prescribe the death penalty for any Muslim who converts to another religion. Let us suppose that this is not inconsistent with the Afghan constitution. Let us suppose that this law has substantial popular support in Afghanistan. I think all of these suppositions are eminently reasonable ones to make.

What then, if anything, can or should the West do about this? I see how many Americans react when Europeans tell us the death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished. "Mind your own business we do what we like over here" would be a good description of the typical reaction. Why should we expect the people of Afghanistan to react any differently? If there's some universally accepted value in the West that apostasy should never result in the death penalty, are we saying that Afghanistan is morally obligated to incorporate that value into its law? Why is that?
3.25.2006 11:37am
BU2L (mail):

"Mind your own business we do what we like over here" would be a good description of the typical reaction. Why should we expect the people of Afghanistan to react any differently?

The difference between Europe's criticism of the death penalty in the US, and the current situation in Afghanistan, is fairly obvious. Europe did not depose an oppressive government here, oversee our democratic process, and then see to it that our economy and security are not collapsed.

Having something of a stake in the future of Afghanistan, and having played a role, (umm, the role), in its recent history, the US stance on the apostasy case is practically quid pro quo - give us something back guys, show us that it's been worth it.
3.25.2006 12:18pm
dougf (mail):
If there's some universally accepted value in the West that apostasy should never result in the death penalty, are we saying that Afghanistan is morally obligated to incorporate that value into its law? Why is that?--Cornellian

Umm, that's a tough one. Guess I will just have to fall back on that oldie but goldie--- Because our value in that regard is a SUPERIOR value system. Period. It's not good to KILL those who don't believe as you do, solely because they don't believe as you do. It's just not a 'good' thing. Well that and the underlying rationale for this 'reformist' approach to Islamic Dysfunction, which is predicated on the assumption that 'certain' forms' of belief are inherently dangerous to OUR way of life, and should be weaned out of existence as soon as is possible. Which is I think why we are even in Afghanistan.

Either you get that intuitively or we will be here to about doomsday, sorting through all those moral equivalency nuances . Life is too short for that, at this moment in time. That is an intellectual exercise more suitable for those who have way too much time on their hands and way too little productive work to occupy them.

Can I argue that all those who don't agree with me should be killed out of hand? Can I then do it ? Is my failure to be so entitled merely a 'social convention', that can be overruled at any time? Sometimes one wishes that might indeed be the case, but then one sobers up and 'gets-a-grip'.

Well one does unless one is an Islamist that is. Then one get's-a-grip on the nearest sword, and indulges oneself in a fully sanctioned jihad.

Why is that? ----- Unbelievable.
3.25.2006 12:22pm
jvarisco:
A lot of the commentators could benefit from a basic history of the early conquests. Conversion was actually not forced; the tax that was levied upon the locals was not all that much, and they were exempted from military service (hence the ban on arms). The copts actually welcomed Islam; they were persecuted much less than by their own bishop. In fact the Ottomans possessed a large Christian community, governed by its own religious leaders, until the empire dissolved; near the end, when there was an attempt to remove the tax and conscript Christians, both Christians and Muslims resisted it.

The difference here is that there are quite a few Islamic theocracies; if they happened to be Christian, it would be no different. But the "Christian" countries you reference are actually secular democracies. If the religious right had absolute power, do you really think they would oppose executing homosexuals? Heathens? Other sinners? Perhaps you are forgetting that the bible itself mandates the death penalty for many of these offenses.
3.25.2006 12:23pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):
Because our value in that regard is a SUPERIOR value system.

There's a more important difference. There is agreement that crimes should be punished, and that certain crimes should be punished harshly. The disagreement about the death penalty is a disagreement with a specific punishment, but not with the idea that the crimes that get it should be crimes, nor with the idea that they should get harsh penalties.
3.25.2006 12:43pm
Barry P. (mail):
Doug F: you appear to be talking about hostility of Islam to other faiths. That is not what this case is about. Throughout history Islam has been happy to let itself co-exist with other religions, as long as those religions are not dominant in Islamic land. Instead, this case is about apostatsy, which is clearly and simply the biggest sin in Islam. And to be an apostate, you have to have been a moslem first, so this isn't about persecuting people of other religions. It's seen as an internal matter - a family matter, as it were. And you understand how welcome outside interference in family fueds is, I imagine.

In a liberal individual-rights-based society, murder is seen as the biggest sin. In Islam, apostasy is the biggest sin. Bigger than murder, bigger than booze or pork, bigger than skipping prayer or zakat. That's a difference westerners need to be made aware of. And I agree with jvarisco in that we are basically atheistic secularists in the west: if the fundies had their way, leaving the fold would be much more dangerous.

(As an aside, Islam is much more hostile to Hinduism and Buddhism than to Christianity and Judaism. There are people of the book, and then there are the polytheistic savages.)
3.25.2006 1:00pm
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
"What then, if anything, can or should the West do about this? I see how many Americans react when Europeans tell us the death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished. "Mind your own business we do what we like over here" would be a good description of the typical reaction. Why should we expect the people of Afghanistan to react any differently? If there's some universally accepted value in the West that apostasy should never result in the death penalty, are we saying that Afghanistan is morally obligated to incorporate that value into its law? Why is that?"

Because many bleieve that basic human rights are assumed to be universal, otherwise our own are at risk.

Personally I don't care if they want to worship the moon, so long as they keep their own problems in their own sphere. Obviously, however, they are unable to do that. That makes it my problem.

I used the example of the Counterreformation, because their is an argument to be made that the Wahabists movement is itself the Islamic Reformation, returning to a strict interpretation of the Koran and attacking the corruption in the formerly pan-Arabist and predominately Sunni Middle East.
3.25.2006 1:01pm
BU2L (mail):
Maybe if Nasser didn't lose the 6-day war quite so badly, this wahhabism business wouldn't have spread as much?
3.25.2006 1:11pm
Vovan:
Islam was propped up in much of the Middle East by the NATO block countries as the only viable alternative to the Soviet control of the various socialist movements in the region.

The take over of the Mosque in Mecca, by those who thought that the SAUDIS were not pious enough, should have brought up some red flags, alas it never happened - witness HAMAS, Pakistan, etc, etc
3.25.2006 1:45pm
Tom952 (mail):
There should not be one dollar of U.S. Taxpayer money going to any nation under the control of murderous Islamic clerics. It is outrageous, comparable to the U.S. Government lending financial support to the Nazis or the KKK.
3.25.2006 2:31pm
dougf (mail):
In a liberal individual-rights-based society, murder is seen as the biggest sin. In Islam, apostasy is the biggest sin. Bigger than murder, bigger than booze or pork, bigger than skipping prayer or zakat.---- Barry P.

So What ? In National Socialism, Jewishness is the 'biggest sin'. That 'differentiation' is mere description. I don't really care all that much that the fanatics dislike someone more than they might dislike me. Speaking just for me,I think the 'kill all the apostates' value system SUCKS like a Hoover, and in a perfect world would not be around cluttering up the place. But I suppose others might differ.

Repugnant as I personally find Islamic thought as a philosophcial whole, and fundamentally anti-human as I believe it to be,I have no interest in 'saving 'the world and like Orwell's Ghost " personally.. don't care if they want to worship the moon, so long as they keep their own problems in their own sphere."

But again to quote " obviously, however, they are unable to do that. That makes it my problem."

And because that makes it my problem, the 'internal dynamics' of the system that makes it my problem, also now come into play.

Again ---- better/worse value systems. They really do exist. It's not just a cultural 'preference', in the way that I might 'prefer' vanilla ice cream and you chocolate.

Really it's NOT.
3.25.2006 3:08pm
Tom952 (mail):
The Islamics inciting murder do not stop at internal apostasy cases, and we all know it. They have been given WAY too much tolerance and respect in the name of religion. Their murderous fanaticism has reached out and killed people outside of their religion -- here on 9/1/1 and elsewhere in the world, including numerous murders of unarmed Israeli citizens.

It is an outrage that American lives and money has been spent to support Islamic rule in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Islamic leaders inciting murder should be tried and executed as murderers where law exists and assassinated when opportunities arise in lawless areas, in the same way one would disinfect a room by eliminating harmful bacteria.

The civilized world cannot tolerate Islamic fundamentalism in its midst.
3.25.2006 4:06pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Hmmm ... It's unconstitutional for the U.S. government to support an establishment of religion, even to the extent of countenancing a Nativity display in a public building at Christmas. So then why is it supposedly allowable for the U.S. government to give foreign aid to countries that do not allow freedom of religion and persecute individuals (even American citizens!) for their religious beliefs?

Where has the ACLU been? Just askin' ...
3.25.2006 4:34pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

why is it supposedly allowable for the U.S. government to give foreign aid to countries that do not allow freedom of religion and persecute individuals (even American citizens!) for their religious beliefs?

Constitutional arguments aside, (and rest assured, they would be dispositive), it simply wouldn't be smart. We have in the past, and undoubtedly will again, have good reasons to make some strange bedfellows. Part of US policy to contain communism was to empower anti-communist regimes, while turning a blind eye to their flaws.

Hindsight is 20/20, and you can spare me the discussion of how the Taliban wouldn't have happened but for, etc., but the truth is that these were all reasonable policy decisions at the time.

We might have to align ourselves with bad people again - to be sure - we are aligned with some now. It does not advance our long term security needs to act indignantly everytime Pakistan lets a rapist go free, or when Dubai refuses to lets Jews into the country. There will be a time when will have the luxury to address such concerns, but in the meantime, there are more pressing needs that compel us to look the other way.

With that said, this apostasy prosecution certainly crosses any line that we could tolerate, and I firmly believe that our government should be doing everything in its power to stop it, (which it seems they are).
3.25.2006 5:07pm
jvarisco:
Is this worse than China executing political dissidents? It's not as if this guy could not simply pretend to be Muslim.

Besides, they are not executing him after all. He's going to Germany.
3.25.2006 5:45pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
According to Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph:
All the four schools of law in the majority Sunni Islam agree that the penalty for "apostasy" - abandoning one's Muslim faith - must be death. One states: "When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasises from Islam, he deserves to be killed" and recommends that, when he is killed, he should be "neither given a bath, nor any funeral prayer". Much the same applies in Shia Islam.
Source: Jack is a man of straw when Muslims talk of killing converts

Hat tip: NRO
3.25.2006 6:20pm
Tom952 (mail):
How do muslim clerics get to me muslim clerics? Are there schools (a.k.a. cruise missle targets), or are they self appointed?
3.25.2006 7:41pm
TomCS (mail):
Three points, as an ex-diplomat who served in Afghanistan in more peaceful times.

First, the posters who have set out the general Islamic position on apostasy are correct. As culturally different as it may seem even to evangelical Christians, Islamic apostates are not only silly sheep that have strayed, they are damned, and have irrevocably outlawed themselves from the community.

Second, in reply to Tom952, probably as many ways as becoming a leader of a Christian congregation. Many are simply educated and largely self, or informally taught, especially in the frontier districts of Islam. More settled Islamic societies have the equivalent of Faculties of Theology, and of seminaries. The products of the first are however more likely to be described as judges, particularly in Sharia states, where state and religious law are essentially the same. Iran produced most of it's current religious leadership through a seminary in Q'om, apart from the rather more liberal faculties in Tehran and Mashad.

Third, a serious complicating factor from all of this is an acute sensitivity to any activity which looks like Christian proselytism. Part of the reason for the recent kidnapping of four (and murder of one) "Christian Peacemaker Team" members in Iraq may well have been a suspicion that such overtly Christian activists could only have been missionaries in disguise (which, given the Islamic attitude, is a natural suspicion).

A footnote on Afghanistan. It is only just a hundred years since the previously animist hill people of Eastern Afghanistan were converted by the sword to Islam. The regional name "Nuristan" -place of light, or enlightenment- marks the fact, and the surrounding areas are the heartland of the Taliban. This is frontier country in every sense, and its preachers are as rough and ready as any in the US West little over a century ago.

It is even possible that the level of tolerance insisted on by the US government for Southern Baptist aid workers in the 1960s contributed to the destabilisation and fall of the relatively liberal monarchy. Much offense was given to the more traditional Afghans by a prominent Christian church constructed in Kabul for the aid community, and the reported distribution of tracts, testaments etc by otherwise technically superb aid workers such as a flying eyesurgery unit. We are more sensitive these days to the concept of a tipping point. But even then the monarchy was obsessed by the need to control the frontier mullahs.

To understand is neither to excuse or forgive, but it is a fundamental requirement for any intelligent policy.
3.26.2006 11:44am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
MarkM,

As for whether the death penalty for apostacy is supported by "most" Muslims, why not collect opinion statistics instead of making unsupported claims about what Muslims do or don't believe?


Yeah, lets collect opinion statistics from countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. where they chop your head off for expressing contrary opinion. That'll work.
3.26.2006 12:02pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):

If there's some universally accepted value in the West that apostasy should never result in the death penalty, are we saying that Afghanistan is morally obligated to incorporate that value into its law? Why is that?


Holy c..., Cornellian, what are you saying here? How can you even ask that? Look if they have a right to kill Rahman for following his conscious then he has the same right to kill them. In fact, on that basis, anybody has the right to kill anybody so long as they can collect a gang big enough to get the job done.

This is merely "might is right". Why are you even entertaining this idea? Executing others because they do not believe as you do doesn't stand up to the most minor of ethical tests.
1) Fails the "Reverse substitution" test.
2) Isn't universal.
3) Fails the "What if everybody did it?" test
4) Fails the "Reduction of error" test
5) Fails the "Might makes right" test
6) Fails the "Concern for others" test
7) Fails the "Do not trespass" test

What are you some kind of fundamentalists who'd like the same sort of thing instituded here in the US?
3.26.2006 12:22pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):

There's a more important difference. There is agreement that crimes should be punished, and that certain crimes should be punished harshly. The disagreement about the death penalty is a disagreement with a specific punishment, but not with the idea that the crimes that get it should be crimes, nor with the idea that they should get harsh penalties.


Nonsense, There is no agreement that believing something different is a crime. This isn't about the harshness of the penalty. In fact the people trying to prevent the man from converting are the trespassers, the crime doers, and they need to be punished.
3.26.2006 12:34pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Barry P.,


Doug F: you appear to be talking about hostility of Islam to other faiths. That is not what this case is about. Throughout history Islam has been happy to let itself co-exist with other religions, as long as those religions are not dominant in Islamic land. Instead, this case is about apostatsy, which is clearly and simply the biggest sin in Islam. And to be an apostate, you have to have been a moslem first, so this isn't about persecuting people of other religions. It's seen as an internal matter - a family matter, as it were. And you understand how welcome outside interference in family fueds is, I imagine.


Are you actually advocating this point of view or just explaining what Muslims believe? There is a big difference. I suggest you use the substitution test. Substitute whites for muslims and blacks for non-believers and see if this paragraph sounds so palatable to you.

I find the idea vile.

How about this idea. Everyone is born without knowledge of religion, therefore they have none and are non-believers. Since Islamic society forbids the teaching of non-Islamic beliefs to these non-believers at the point they accept Islam they are incompetent to do so. This is not only because they are minors but because they have not been informed of all the options and arguments. It's not merely that they failed to fully inform themselves either, there was an active effort to keep them in the dark. Therefore, it is unreasonable to consider them as ever being truly Muslim if on becoming more fully informed they decide to leave.

A more sarcastic argument would be that at one point all Muslims were born non-believers and I were to start a religion based on non-belief in Islam, and the death penalty for converts, then I would be just as justified to kill any Muslim I met as they are to kill any apostate.

BTW. This statement is flat out false:

"Throughout history Islam has been happy to let itself co-exist with other religions, as long as those religions are not dominant in Islamic land."

There are plenty of religions that Islam was not happy to let itself co-exist with as long as those religions were not dominant in Islamic land. Polytheistic religions in particular. Furthermore, I don't particularly like the idea of "Islamic land". When did Islam ever purchase any land? How can an ideology own land?

You'll pardon me but this kind of talk really gets me irked. I am serious about the black and white thingy. You think real seriously about what you are saying here. It's a strange kind of tolerance where you only suffer the other guy to live if he recognizes your domanance. You know like the master and slave.
3.26.2006 1:11pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Tom952,


The situation with Islam, a de facto transnational political organization calling itself a religion and making war against much of the rest of the world ...
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

In order to protect and preserve the nation from this threat, Congress is going to have to recognize the fact that a religious organization has declared war against the United States and its citizens, and deal with it as it would deal with a traditional hostile political entity. In addition, that recognition will necessarily single out that particular religion, or perhaps all religions that share similar hostile traits for special treatment under the law.

Comments?


Yes, I have thought about this. I have decided that it is possible to have a religion that is incompatible with the spirit of freedom of religion. That is, not all religions can coexist as equals. It is a rather simple exercise to prove this.

Religion A: Mind your own business.
Religion B: Everyone else is going to hell.
Religion C: Religion B is right except it's everybody except c's that are going to hell.
Religion D: Kill all A's and Atheists. Turn all B's and C's into your slaves.
Atheists: I don't believe A, B, C, or D.

The religions A, B and C, along with atheism are all compatible with religious freedom and each other. Religion D is incompatible with all the others, even the ones it "tolerates" by letting their believers live a slaves.

Islam at it's roots is incompatible with religious equality. It would need to reject much of it's founding document, the Quran, and also the Hadiths before it became remotely compatible. Furthermore, Islam is a political movement and is incompatible with our constitution. In effect, promoting Islam is equivalent to promoting the overthrow of the government.

I had ideas on what to do about this but ideas without philosophical and political support are as useless as udders on a bull. I think, in the main, people are too stupid to understand having the government restrict Islam would not be contrary to religious freedom. I think most people think about religious freedom the way pacifist think about self defense. Pacifists see self-defense as just more violence, and don't recognize the difference between agressive violence and defensive violence.

There are many passages in the Qu'ran that trespass against me. They advocate my murder and furthermore claim not that the author of the book is advocating this but that a God does so. In particular a God that is the only one in existence and which they believe deserves to obeyed on his say so even when he advises evil.

This document endangers me in the same way that a neighbor storing dynamite on his property in close proximity to my house would. Not only are these statements dangerous to me but they are also false. There are provable gross overgeneralizations like "All non-belivers are evil" in the Quran. I believe that anyone advocating that the Quran inerrant and was writen by Allah in fact promoting these explicit statements. I further believe that they are partially responsible for any acts that may be committed by someone who acts on these statments. They are even further implicated if they belong to an organization that stresses such statments and some of the members of those organizations then act on them.

Yes, this applies to Christians too, as it does to the KKK, Communists, and any other organization that choses to spread lies about others. I believe these are criminal acts regardless of the inadequacies of our or any other nations laws to recognize this fact.

Furthermore, I believe that Communists are endangering to me because they baselessly claim I have no right to my property, and that this endangers me. So I disagree with prior court decisions that held that communists have a right to advocate their position. They no more have that right than I do to advocate that a mob decend on your home to steal your rightful property.

I believe that homosexuals have a just cause against any religious sect that advocates their execution merely because they are not heterosexual. Should the member or non-member of any congregation that preaches hate against homosexuals, based on their advocacy, harm a homosexual then I believe that the victim has cause for action against all the members of that congregation.

I feel similarly about and KKK type organizations, and fail to see any difference. People who joins such groups should be held responsible for the positions they advocate.

I believe that even voicing certain types of speech you are trespassing. One need not burn a cross on someone elses property to be trespassing, one can do it on your own property and be the agressor. There is a long history of cross-burning being associated with actual lynchings. It is not an idle threat to blacks when a cross is burned. Cross burning is a threat in two senses. 1) It is a direct threat of violence that is not based on an attempt to protect property or person 2) It endangering to the victim because some gullible fool make take up the calling, and lynch somebody.

Furthermore, I believe that groups that are victim to such libel and slander should be able to injoin against it prior to any damages that might or might not occur. Thus, I believe that homosexuals should be able to go to the court and force preachers to refrain from teaching people to stone gays either explicitly or implicitly. No preacher would be allowed to claim that the bible is inerrant, and would be subject to punishment if he were to do so. That is because there are errors in the bible that endanger others. Claiming it is inerrant is the same as claiming those parts are true explicitly.

I also believe that since our government is not allowed to directly support Churches then no other government should be allowed to either. Especially, if the other goverment is a theocracy that we support via the military. Thus, I would rule that by giving military aid to Saudia Arabia they are in fact partially agents of the US government and cannot provide financing for Mosques in the US without coming up against the establishment of religion clause.

I know a lot of you are not going to like my take, but that is what I believe. I think that many Christian sects meet the criteria I have outlined, and that some do not. I don't know of a single Islamic sect that meets my criteria.
3.26.2006 2:11pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Oh, and to clarify. I think you should be allowed to say "I am a racist". You can even make claims against the groups you hate that are true. What you cannot do is make statements that are obviously false as statements of fact. Things like "Jews are greedy", or "Blacks are inferior". One can say, "I think, Blacks are inferior, but that is only my opinion, and not a fact". Saying, "God says to kill all blacks. That is the infallible truth" would not be allowed, nor would handing out a book that said so while at the same time claiming it was non-fiction.

Thus, I could sell Qu'rans as fiction if I wanted. Libraries could stack them on their shelves as fiction section. However, these vicious preachers of hate we call Islamic clerics could not.

Plus, this bastard Christian fellow from www.godhatesfags.com would have to shut down his web site, and stop preaching his hate to others. He can think what he wants as long as he doesn't act on it.
3.26.2006 2:19pm
Barry P. (mail):
Brian:

I was describing something, not advocating. I believe all religions to be collections of silly superstitions and rituals used to assuage human frailities. God is a creation of man.
3.27.2006 2:31am
Barry P. (mail):
By the way, Brian: consider the notion of brevity.
3.27.2006 2:32am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I guess the question is whose opinion is more important:

That of the potential actor. That of the potential acted-upon.

Saying that the "assault against Islam" view is wrong is nice and all, but the people who hold the view that it's correct are the ones deciding whether and whom to kill.

It would be like telling Torquemada that his view of Christianity is wrong, as you are relaxed to the secular arm and all its horrors. You may even be right. So what?
3.27.2006 9:08am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Barry P.,

I don't think I can be brief without being extremely insulting. How exactly would you expect me to respond to your notion that muslims slaughtering christians should be ignored if they do it within their own borders because it is outside interference in family matters. Even if your premise is accepted that muslims have freely accepted the allegence that still doesn't support your point. Families are NOT free to slaughter their own children if they decide to move out of the house.

If that wasn't your point then I suggest you be less brief.
3.27.2006 11:50am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Richard Aubrey,

I tried reading and rereading your last post and cannot understand your point.
3.27.2006 11:53am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Mike BUSL07,
that totally confirms that the Koran was desecrated. By Cheney. He used copies of it for skeet-shooting.

:)

That's just not true. If you read the documents you'd know Cheney was hunting lawyers and the ones he shot in the face just happened to be reading the qu'ran at the time.
3.27.2006 11:58am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Brian.

The point is that EV's opinion that the "assault against Islam" view is incorrect is meaningless. Oh, I grant he's right and all that, but it doesn't mean anything. What is important is the views of the folks who will kill over it. EV's views are irrelevant to that issue.

Not to be insulting, in case you have heard this, but the Catholics didn't really do all that much torturing in the Spanish Inquisition. They turned over the unreconstructed, or those with property the church coveted or whose neighbors coveted, to the civil authorities--called being "relaxed to the secular arm"--for more forthright treatment.

Now, you could, on your way to the slow fire, tell Torquemada that his doctrine was wrong, but what good would it do you? What matters is the views of the actors, those who take action, not of their potential victims.
3.27.2006 12:32pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Richard,

Don't worry, whatever details you want to give to get across you point. I still don't think I've got it. It wasn't because of your historical references. Perhaps it is because I don't think of people belonging to two separate classes, actors and acted upon.

VC's last paragraph talks about "defense". One can be the object of someone elses desire to kill you but still be an actor, and defend yourself. If you are too weak to do it yourself you need to convince others to help you. That is the value of portraying yourself as a victim and not an agressor. So I do not believe that VC's opinion is "meaningless". In fact it is quite important.
3.28.2006 7:46pm