This morning I read disturbing news about an Afghan that converted to Christianity and now might be facing the death penalty for choosing a religion different from Islam.
A man could be sentenced to death after being charged with converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under Afghanistan’s shariah laws, a judge said yesterday. The trial is thought to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and highlights a struggle between religious conservatives and reformists over what shape Islam will take four years after the fall of the Taliban.
Abdul Rahman, 41, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian, Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada told Associated Press. The accused was charged with rejecting Islam. During the one-day hearing on Thursday, the defendant allegedly confessed to converting to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Judge Mawlavezada said. Source: [The Guardian]
What’s really disturbing about all this, in my opinion, is that this is happening in the supposedly post-Taliban era. It is no secret that those that covert to Christianity in the Arab and the Muslim world get harassed, but to be threatened with death is really horrendous.
Sadly enough, Jordan is another country where converts to Christianity will not only be ostracized, but will be also harassed by the authorities. To be fair, anyone changing religion in Jordan, whether from Islam to Christianity or vise versa, faces social ostracization. The difference, though, is that in the case of converting to Christianity one can expect to spend some time behind bars as was the case with a Jordanian couple I blogged about last year.
Ask Samer and Abeer. Last September Jordanian security police connected to the country’s Mukhabarat, or intelligence agency, showed up at the couple’s home unannounced. They arrested Samer and detained him overnight. Samer’s crime: coming to faith in Jesus Christ 14 years ago. Originally a Muslim, Samer over the years since his conversion has been questioned several times by security police but never detained. This time, the police turned him over to the Islamic courts. The judges convicted Samer of apostasy. In a Nov. 23 decision the court decreed that his identification papers must be changed from "Muslim" to "no religion;" that he had forfeited any inheritance; that his marriage to Abeer is now illegal and therefore he is not entitled to custody of his son.
The US State Department 2005 report on religious freedom in Jordan also mentions this issue :
Members of unrecognized religious groups and converts from Islam face legal discrimination and bureaucratic difficulties in personal status cases. Converts from Islam additionally risk the loss of civil rights. There is no statute that expressly forbids proselytizing Muslims. However, Shari’a courts have the authority to prosecute proselytizers.
I’m fully aware that this topic is very controversial so I’m not going to say much besides reiterating what I said last year: In my humble, unbiased opinion I think that if Jordan intends to tread on a truly democratic path, then its citizens should be given the basic right of practicing a religion of their own choosing.
People put too much emphasis on doing what they think god wants rather than doing what is best for their fellow man.
This self-centred egoism is responsible for the various hideous relgious ideologies currently plaguing the world today.
We are here not to please god, but to evolve and help each other to better lives. All we have on this planet is each other as god will never intervene to help or destroy us. That, we can and will do, all by ourselves without any devine intervention.
“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” — Volatire
Hmmm Fadi. The blame game again? Blame everything on the west. What was the purpose of invading Iraq? Well, my ignorant friend, Saddam was responsible for a decade long pointless battle with Iran, a basic shia-sunni-khurd clash, which resulted in MILLIONS of muslims dying (read about Khoramshahr). He then invaded Kuwait, again many died, he did have stockpiles of chemical weapons in 1992. If he was let to succeed in Kuwait the entire gulf would have been destabilized. Kuwait asked for help and they got it. Thats where the American presence in Iraq started. Had it not been for Saddam arrogance in invading Kuwait the US would never have stepped in to that country. I suggest YOU read up on some history.
History also clearly shows that it was the Palestinians who forcibly occupied portions of Jerusalem where the Jews had been living for a thousand years before Islam came into existance. Read up my friend! And stop bashing the “west” for everything.
The taliban was part of a force supported by the US against the Soviets. Bin Laden came in from Sudan from where he was kicked out because of his offensive tactics. He found the fanatical mullah Omar a fine ally. Now dont tell me that just because the US provided him weapons during the cold war that he has the right to become a terrorist. Currently Pakistan recieves military help, dont tell me that if they suddenly turn back on the US they arent to be blamed. A gun manufacturer sold the gun to a man. If he murders, is the gun manufacturer prosecuted?
No amount of twisting and turning will help. Radical Islam is a threat and needs to be wiped out. Radical Christianity met its end in the 15th century. Sadly the muslims hardliners dont seem to learn lessons from that debacle.
Hadith Bukhari, volume 9, #17 is clear on the issue: Apostates must die.
God save us from religion, please.
To Fadi again,
Whoa! Bush never said “God told him to invade Iraq”! Never, ever. Bush has said that he isn’t almighty himself and he believes in praying to a higher power for guidance. Uh…you know, the whole point of faith. Completely different. There are plenty of legitimate things to criticize Bush about…this isn’t one of them.
To Hareega–freedom of religion is a basic human right. Period.
To Fadi–people are not arrested in the US for wearing anti-war T-shirts.
This man will not be executed. Canada and Germany are watching this closely and the USA is also keeping a close eye.
Best wishes Natasha. 🙂
You by no means sat back and watched. Let me ask you who made the Taliban a force? Who made Bin Laden a force.
Wasn’t the US that told the Taliban and Bin Laden to fight against the Un-Godly Soviets?
Come on, Bin Ladin is Mad in USA, stop the bull for Gods sake.
Do some research on the creation fanatic Islamic movements.
Why were they created? Who backed them up?
And for you to confuse things like that is just pure ignorance. Iraq during the Saddam days was no an Islami country in the sense of the Taliban are Islamic. What was the purpose behind invading them? To end terror? There were no terror cells in Iraq before Saddam was removed. Don’t get me wrong I have no liking to Saddam or his boys, however, we should not confuse things.
This is not a war on terror, its a war of terror. Stop spreading hatered, because it is not your job to go and solve the problems of other countries. If you are so concerened about people being persecuted, go help the Palestnians who had their land stolen from them long ago and they continue to have their homes being demolished.
America did not have to struggle against a powerful force like religion. The Black-White issue was an idealogical one and over time it got sorted out (sadly at the expense of many human lives). But muslims have their religion to contend with. Any one poking a finger at Islamic rulings is considered blasphemous and liable to be executed. It going to be very very difficult for muslims to change from within. The whole setup is flawed, putting religion ahead of state precludes any negotiations and debate and hence changes.
We are in a fix – if we go in and change things it is considered an invasion. If we sit back and turn a blind eye, the Taliban like regimes proliferate and breed terrorists. The world has one huge problem in its hands.
It is my experience that the majority of Muslims who stop practicing do not convert to any other religion, they just stop believing in any religion all together. I dont think this will be a major issue in any country where Muslims are the majority, but agree it certainly does look bad, and it certainly does happen both ways.
To those of you like Shukri who are arguing that ‘this is a cultural matter, and that this culture should be respected,’ let me give a little History lesson. (Many Americans will find this trite, and I apologize to them, but I think it needs to be said.)
I will be 60 in June. When I was growing up, the Southern States — mostly those that had been slave states before the Civil War — had LEGALLY ENFORCED rules of segregation.
Many people know of the fact that blacks were not allowed to go to school with whites, and, thanks to Rosa Parks, many people know that blacks had to ride in the back of buses, that they could not ride in the ‘white sections.’ But it was far wider than this. Blacks couldn’t play in the same playgrounds as whites, or be on sports teams with whites. If they were allowed in theatres or movies, there were black-only sections they had to sit in. Lunch counters wouldn’t serve blacks — and this was partially because if they did, whites wouldn’t go there.
Perhaps the most powerful image was that even water fountains and public bathrooms were marked for whites and blacks.
(And, of course, the facilities for blacks were the worse, and they weren’t maintained properly. But even if the black fountain was broken, the black bathroom was broken, they were still not allowed to use the white ones. And these laws WERE enforced, both by the police and by white citizens who’d take the law into their own hands.)
The relevance is this. There were quite a few Southerners who defended these laws on the grounds that they were right, even using biblical arguments for them. Other Southerners knew they were wrong, but knew that if they opposed them they would suffer ostracism or worse. But, in the North, there were many conservatives who argued “maybe this IS wrong, but it is part of the ‘Southern Way of Life’ and it is not up to us to try and change it. Leave them alone, educate them, and they will slowly correct this.” (One flaw in this argument was that blacks were also kept from voting in the South, so they could not use political pressure directly to end segregation. And the whites would almost always vote for the more extreme supporter of segregation.)
It took a combination of things, national laws — with at least shows of force to back up the laws, brave Northerners going down South and working with Southern blacks (some of whom were killed for trying), business boycotts, national media publicity, and almost two decades before these policies were discarded. It did work, but it only worked because the argument that ‘its their culture’ could not stand up to the argument ‘yes, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong.’
I wonder what it will take to change these parts of the culture of Muslim states that are, simply, WRONG, no matter how deeply engrained and religiously sanctioned.