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Religious freedom
March 21, 2006 1:04 PM   Subscribe

In the meantime back at the ranch. Afghan man faces death for abandoning Islam for Christianity.
posted by semmi (70 comments total)

 
What, so being a martyr is bad now?
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:07 PM on March 21, 2006


So what if Afghanistan resets itself to Taliban rule? At least Osama bin Landen is dead.
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on March 21, 2006


registration? wtf
posted by adzm at 1:11 PM on March 21, 2006


BMN logins.
posted by cenoxo at 1:11 PM on March 21, 2006


Mawlawizada, who kept Rahman's green Bible on his desk, said he respected all religions. He emphasized that he did not favor the aggressiveness of the Taliban, who cut the hands and feet off criminals in a soccer stadium. But he said Rahman had to repent.

"If he doesn't regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him," the judge said. "And the punishment is death."


Savage hideousness in the name of justice is okay as long as you're humble about it apparently.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2006


PRESIDENT BUSH: I also appreciate your honor and your courage and your skill in helping to build a new and democratic Afghanistan. You've been instrumental in lifting your country from the ashes of two decades of war and oppression. Under your leadership, Afghanistan's progress has been dramatic.

Three years ago, the Taliban had granted Osama bin Laden and his terrorist al Qaeda organization a safe refuge. Today, the Taliban has been deposed, al Qaeda is in hiding, and coalition forces continue to hunt down the remnants and holdouts. Coalition forces, including many brave Afghans, have brought America, Afghanistan and the free world its first victory in the war on terror. Afghanistan is no longer a terrorist factory sending thousands of killers into the world.
Three years ago, 70 percent of Afghans were malnourished, and one in four Afghan children never saw their 5th birthday.

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Yes.
posted by matteo at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2006


"[The judge] who kept Rahman's green Bible on his desk, said he respected all religions. ... But he said Rahman had to repent.

'If he doesn't regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him,' the judge said. 'And the punishment is death.'"


Christ, you know it ain't easy. You know how hard it can be.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2006


Whew! For a minute there I thought he drew a cartoon. Well at least he was only abandoning Islam.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2006


I'm surpised this hasn't gotten more play from the Dobson's of the world.
posted by empath at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2006


Bombs away.

posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2006


Well, I'm waiting for the Walden Media feature. Say, think we can get some MeFi group tickets?
posted by ford and the prefects at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2006


Michelle Malkin seems to have a pretty decent round-up of the right-wing reaction.
posted by empath at 1:18 PM on March 21, 2006


It's great that we were able to install an Islamic government that follows Sharia law to the letter. Just think how much better off the Afghans are!
posted by bshort at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2006


We have 22,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Can't they form a little posse and get him out? Or don't we know where he's being held?
posted by Faze at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2006


Congressman Chris Van Hollen's op-ed in today's WaPo on Afghanistan.
posted by bardic at 1:31 PM on March 21, 2006


And what's the left-wing reaction (in the blogosphere and otherwise)? For all the religious nuttery in the U.S. these days, even under the Bush 2 regime we're not executing people for converting from Christianity to Islam, and while this is an awful situation in Afghanistan, no one can argue things were any BETTER under the Taliban.
posted by twsf at 1:31 PM on March 21, 2006


Remembering Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer.
posted by cenoxo at 1:34 PM on March 21, 2006


no one can argue things were any BETTER under the Taliban.

Well, not for nothing, but the anti-drug people might be able to make that argument. Under the Taliban, heroin production had been severely curtailed, but since 2001, it has reassumed its place as Afghanistan's number one cash crop.
posted by psmealey at 1:42 PM on March 21, 2006


while this is an awful situation in Afghanistan, no one can argue things were any BETTER under the Taliban.

Seriously though, what have we actually achieved? I don't give a fuck about Afghans voting, particularly if this is the kind of savage law they support. One less state that openly sponsors Al Quaeda, a decentralized organization with a cell based structure that's designed to not rely on state support? Whoopdifuckingdoo.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:43 PM on March 21, 2006


Any chance of the US adopting this law? Nah, I didn't think so.
posted by mischief at 1:51 PM on March 21, 2006


Coming soon to Europe!

Get your burkas NOW!
posted by HTuttle at 1:55 PM on March 21, 2006


hey man, rules are rules.
posted by glenwood at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2006


psmealey, it's a perspective thing. For heroin addicts, Afghanistan's re-entry into the supply chain is a very good thing. So twsf's conservative response is definitely spot on. Things weren't any BETTER under the Taliban (that's the standard), people aren't executed in the US for converting to Islam (not sure what this has to do with anything?) and Afghanis are definitely more Free (except for this guy).
posted by nixerman at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2006


nixerman: I'm actually not conservative, just desperately looking for some sane AND convincing leftist perspectives and arguments about current affairs that will help us win a few national elections... knee-jerk, peevish, "anything that happens because of something Bush did is BAD" is, well, knee-jerk and peevish and unhelpful...
posted by twsf at 2:06 PM on March 21, 2006


KABUL, Afghanistan -- Abdul Rahman told his family he was a Christian. He told the neighbors, bringing shame upon his home. But then he told the police, and he could no longer be ignored.

Now, in a major test of Afghanistan's fledgling court system, Rahman, 42, faces the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity. Prosecutors say he should die. So do his family, his jailers, even the judge. Rahman has no lawyer. Jail officials refused to let anyone see Rahman on Monday, despite permission granted by the country's justice minister.


Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for my sake, and for the gospel’s sake, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 2:09 PM on March 21, 2006


We have 22,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Can't they form a little posse and get him out?

Nah, just get a bunch of folks at church to gather together and head on over.
posted by davejay at 2:14 PM on March 21, 2006


I hear you nixerman, mostly, I was just sayin'. As for reactions to this episode from the left-wing, I don't see how they could be much different from those of the right. This law is clearly and unambiguously barbaric.

There doesn't always have to be a polarity of opinion on every single thing that happens, does there? Or are we so accustomed to today's endless knee-jerk fests that we automatically assume that the dumb-asses on the other side have found some abhorrent bullshit to carp on?
posted by psmealey at 2:25 PM on March 21, 2006


So America invades Afghanistan, but is now backsliding and allowing the Taliban to come back to power, after failing to find bin Laden and not ensuring that the nation will have a stable future. Women's rights are being trampled again, and guys like this are being persecuted for being Christian.

And Bush apologists are saying "Well at least we don't have the Taliban here in America!"

Doesn't your own idiocy shock you?
posted by bardic at 2:25 PM on March 21, 2006


Well, this is unfortunet, but what can you expect?
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2006


just desperately looking for some sane AND convincing leftist perspectives and arguments about current affairs that will help us win a few national elections... knee-jerk, peevish, "anything that happens because of something Bush did is BAD" is, well, knee-jerk and peevish and unhelpful...

Actually, this self-loathing is what is unhelpful.

271 Americans died in Afghanistan, 204 other coalition troops. If all those lives are worth it to you to have this version of freedom in Afghanistan, if that's a price you felt worth paying for this end product...

I don't have words for that.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2006


Er, I mean unfortunate. Anyway, the point is that Afghans support Sharia law, while they might not have liked the ultra-strict interpretations that the Taliban imposed, they still want some of it, and Sharia says kill people who convert from Islam.

All this guy has to do is repent, and they won't kill him. If he were to repent and they still killed him, then that would be pretty bad.

If someone wants to die for their beliefs, that's his choice I guess. But don't expect me to get all teary eyed just because he chooses not to tell them what they want to hear.
posted by delmoi at 2:30 PM on March 21, 2006


271 Americans died in Afghanistan, 204 other coalition troops. If all those lives are worth it to you to have this version of freedom in Afghanistan,

The point of the war was not to free the afghans, but to stomp out al-Quaida. It's pretty obvious that we dimished Al-quada's central operating ability, and think the Afghans are a little better off then they were before.
posted by delmoi at 2:34 PM on March 21, 2006


That's the thing about sovereignty, yeah? I mean, countries kill people for all sorts of wacky reasons all the time. At least this one is fairly clear cut and easy to avoid--for all I know, he would have been allowed to campaign against the law, but as someone so snarkily put it, rules are rules. Is this so different from executing the mentally ill?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:40 PM on March 21, 2006


If someone wants to die for their beliefs, that's his choice I guess. But don't expect me to get all teary eyed just because he chooses not to tell them what they want to hear.
posted by delmoi at 10:30 PM GMT on March 21


delmoi, we're not even on the same wavelength any more. WTF has gotten into you?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:41 PM on March 21, 2006


Judicial murder for one's religion: check.
Judicial murder for one's politics: check.

All thats OK with you is it, delmoi?

What about...
Judicial murder for one's skin colour?
Judicial murder for one's sexuality?
Judicial murder for one's nationality?

What would not be OK for a judge to execute you for, delmoi? Espousing fatuous opinions on a website?

Bang goes another long-timer I used to enjoy reading. Getting few & far between, they are.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:58 PM on March 21, 2006


Judicial murder for one's religion: check.
Judicial murder for one's politics: check.

All thats OK with you is it, delmoi?

What about...
Judicial murder for one's skin colour?
Judicial murder for one's sexuality?
Judicial murder for one's nationality?

What would not be OK for a judge to execute you for, delmoi? Espousing fatuous opinions on a website?

Bang goes another long-timer I used to enjoy reading. Getting few & far between, they are.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:49 PM on March 21, 2006


Hey, I'm what passes for a lefty around here (that's me in the northeast quadrant of the circular firing squad), and I've frequently defended Islam from ignorant bigots, but this shit is indefensible. It's as if Bush & Co. decided to start stoning adulterers 'cause that's what it says in the Good Book. Afghanistan has been fucked up for a long time, and no, things weren't better under the Taliban, but can I remind you that the Taliban wouldn't have come to power if it hadn't been for us shoveling guns and money in their direction for years?

Man, the world is a depressing place these days.
posted by languagehat at 3:56 PM on March 21, 2006


Is this so different from executing the mentally ill?

What? Besides the executing people who don't deserve it part, I have no idea how this is related in any substantive way. Or was this an attempt to insert a "But America is bad too!" moral equivalency?
posted by Falconetti at 6:16 PM on March 21, 2006


Who are we to argue with the invisible sky wizard? Death to the infidel I say.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:18 PM on March 21, 2006


The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

If they think they can rid their country of Christianity by killing Christians, they are mistaken.
posted by konolia at 6:21 PM on March 21, 2006


IMHO the fatwa against apostates leads directly to terrorist attacks. Many Muslims know that if they attempt to leave their faith, they could be put to death so a psychological tension arises when they question or lose their faith. These so-called martyrs want to be seen as pious individuals, but, in fact, they cannot admit that they do not believe so they inflict the consequent fatwa on themselves, rather than have other Muslims do it for them. Woe to Jerusalem.
posted by Tarn at 6:25 PM on March 21, 2006


If Rahman chooses, he can take his appeal all the way to Hamid Karzai. If that happens, Karzai will be stuck between the Islamic courts and that entire cadre of Western rulers who like to appear in photo-ops with him.
posted by palinode at 6:30 PM on March 21, 2006


[I] think the Afghans are a little better off then they were before.

Well yes, they've got their opium crop back.
posted by palinode at 6:34 PM on March 21, 2006


If they think they can rid their country of Christianity by killing Christians, they are mistaken.

Actually, they probably can rid their country of Christianity by killing Christians. There aren't too many of them.

Is this so different from executing the mentally ill?

Uh, yeah, actually it is. We don't just grab mentally ill people off the street and execute them, they have to commit grave harm to someone else first.

I believe that the same state of affairs exists in Saudi Arabia - Shari'a forbids conversion from Islam to another religion.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:52 PM on March 21, 2006


Maybe he should've hidden his light under a bushel.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:17 PM on March 21, 2006


I know I should feel bad. And I agree, the killing of apostates is one of the truly unique ways that Islam sucks. But really, did y'all read the article?
"So we filed a report on the family's problems to send to the central police. And he insisted over and over, `Please write in my file that I converted to Christianity.'"
It sounds more like 'Suicide By Cop' raised to the nth power. I mean, the guy was begging the cops (who it seems didn't want to report it) to mention his religious conversion to someone who'd kill him for it.
posted by boaz at 7:55 PM on March 21, 2006


just curious, do you think anyone has bothered to do a sanity check on this guy?
posted by coyote's bark at 8:07 PM on March 21, 2006


seems to me that if we can impose our troops on afghanistan, the least we can do is impose some of our values ... such as it's dumb to kill people over what religion they convert to

come on, george, you went in there ... now have the balls to tell them "hands off" the guy

if we're going to play empire, we have to start acting like emperors and make some demands of our new subjects

otherwise, why the hell are we doing this?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:28 PM on March 21, 2006


coyote's bark writes "just curious, do you think anyone has bothered to do a sanity check on this guy?"

He's Christian, what more do we need to know?
posted by orthogonality at 8:29 PM on March 21, 2006


just desperately looking for some sane AND convincing leftist perspectives and arguments about current affairs that will help us win a few national elections...

Will American Theocracy do?
posted by semmi at 9:20 PM on March 21, 2006


Suicide by Cop

As opposed to suicide by Roman Legionary? If he's a Christian the idea of the local priesthood insisting the state kill him for his beliefs might appeal.

Persecution can be effective: Christianity was effectively stamped out in Japan in the 17th Centruy. Trickier given that the world superpower is majority Christian and you need lots of deaths and torture.
posted by alasdair at 11:37 PM on March 21, 2006


The Religious Policeman's take on the issue.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:52 AM on March 22, 2006


1. The fact that the Taliban was worse is NOT an exculpatory point for killing your citizens who convert to another religion. That some people seriously pose this as an argument to diminish the significance of religious persecution in what is supposed to be a democratic, free country, is mindboggling.

I mean, if we used that reasoning, we could argue away our moral outrage for just about any violation of civil rights by our government today simply by suggesting that things under the British colonial rule were worse. It flies in the face of all reason (including the reason for waging a war of "liberation") to suggest that, well, since things still aren't so bad as they were when we weren't a free country, then it's not so bad.

2. It shouldn't matter that the guy made a point of letting the government know that he was a Christian. Sure, it puts him at greater risk, and that's a risk that he knowingly incurs. But it's fundamentally a risk created by a government oppression.

One could surely say "Hey, don't let the government know you're a _____ because they'll kill you for it." But some people, rightly, believe that such a life is no life at all in a free society, and want to live life to the full while confronting the government on its oppressiveness so as to effect change. We used to call those people heroes...not we just consider them stupid for not hiding in the cellar to perform their religious observances?

Religious persecution has a long and storied history (of and by Christians, I might add). That we're now in the 21st Century and a government that WE helped establish is treating religious conversion as a crime worthy of the death penalty, is so far beyond outrageous as to be surreal.

If this man dies because he's a Christian, he will be a martyr. And the meme that Afghanistan was liberated to become a free and democratic society will be shown to be a myth.
posted by darkstar at 2:07 AM on March 22, 2006


My view on this is that Abdul Rahman is just one more casualty in Bush's rush to Iraq. The Bushites could not be bothered to take the time or resources to do a proper job of occupying and rebuilding Afghanistan because they were too focused on the later (and obviously more important from their POV) job of invadng Iraq.

Much as I tend to dislike McCarthur I cannot argue with the results, or even (most of) the methods, he used in the occupation of Japan following WWII. At the end of our occupation of Japan the result was a nation with a fairly healthy democracy, an economy that was rapidly recovering from the harm that had been inflicted on it both by Japan's wartime leaders and the US attacks on Japan, etc.

The successful US occupation of Germany is a similar example of how to succeed when occupying a country after defeating it militarially (at least the half we didn't turn over to the USSR is, but that's a different argument). The US essentially wrote the new constitutions for both nations and you will notice that neither the State Shinto of Japan, nor Nazism in Germany were allowed to be enshrined in their constitutions. It can be easily argued that Joe German, or Joe Japanese, didn't *want* freedom of religion, equality for women, or a renunciation of war worked directly into their constitutions. But they were because we had the boots on the ground, and (to steal a Republican line) the will to do what was right. As a result both nations are free democracies today.

But Bush got bored with Afghanistan after the bombs stopped falling. Bush couldn't be bothered to use US forces to defeat the Taliban, so he enlisted the aid of the (originally Soviet created) "Northern Alliance" to do most of the actual fighting. Bush (his Republican drones in the House, actually) was eager to invade Iraq, so he didn't bother putting any money for rebuilding Afghanistan into the budget following the war [1]. And now we see the result of Bush's foolishness, his shortsightedness. Christians are, yet again, facing the death penalty, but this time it is the direct result of Bush's failure to do a proper job in Afghanistan, not because the conservatives of the world ignored us dirty hippies when we told them, over and over, that the Taliban was bad.

I, for one, am not surprised. Bush has shown a remarkable willingness to deal with people who oppress Christians, look at his chumming up with the vile dictator of Uzbekistan, who had Christians boiled to death by his secret police. What DOES surprise me is that the fundamentalist nuts in the US continue to vote for Bush despite massive evidence that Bush isn't what you could call pro-Christian, much less pro-religious freedom, on the international front.

[1] The astute reader will note that some money for rebuilding Afghanistan did appear anyway. This is because the Democrats in the House insisted on that money, and forced it into the budget.
posted by sotonohito at 3:38 AM on March 22, 2006


But Bush got bored with Afghanistan after the bombs stopped falling.

He didn't even wait that long.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2006


Yes, they are truly heathens, not enlightened folks like Christians.

Deuteronomy 13: 6-9
6If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

7Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

8Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

9But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

10And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

posted by ColdChef at 7:57 AM on March 22, 2006


If they think they can rid their country of Christianity by killing Christians, they are mistaken.

Spare us.
posted by bshort at 8:09 AM on March 22, 2006


Coldchef, that's a compelling passage. Of course, Christians don't (as a rule) endorse it as a guideline for behavior today.

Unlike the Afghan government, which still holds that conversion is a criminal offense punishable by death.

I see in the news today, though, that they are trying to avoid the mess by calling the guy mentally unfit to be tried. That might save that fellow's life, but it doesn't change the fact that the country criminalizes religious conversion as a capital offense.
posted by darkstar at 8:12 AM on March 22, 2006


Also, I found this ironic: (FROM CNN's COVERAGE) "Doctors must examine him," the AP quoted Baluch as saying. "If he is mentally unfit, definitely Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped."

In this particular instance, Islam is more Christlike than Texas.
posted by ColdChef at 9:42 AM on March 22, 2006


Of course, Christians don't (as a rule) endorse it as a guideline for behavior today.

Hey, if they can use the Old Testament to persecute gays, then we should be able to stone to death Methodists who become Presbyterians.
posted by ColdChef at 9:44 AM on March 22, 2006


...and those who eat shrimp.
posted by bshort at 9:52 AM on March 22, 2006


And yet, the reality is that, despite what Leviticus says, Christians don't actually promote killing gays, apostates or crustacean gourmands.

Well, except for that nutcase Swaggart.
posted by darkstar at 9:57 AM on March 22, 2006


Just to make it clear that I'm not talking about what the sacred tomes of any given religion actually may promote (or may have promoted), but am trying to focus on what is an actual, current position held by a supposedly free and democratic government in the 21st Century.

Not that I'm trying to defend Christians, per se. They have their own problems (and history of persecuting and being persecuted). But there's no Christian theocracy that actually has a law on its books to execute apostates.
posted by darkstar at 10:02 AM on March 22, 2006


Yet.
posted by ColdChef at 12:19 PM on March 22, 2006


Heheh...true!

:)
posted by darkstar at 12:32 PM on March 22, 2006


Islam will continue to be a savage and primitive religion as long as they insist that nobody can ever leave and live.


Even Catholics just damn you to afterlife torture.
posted by Megafly at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2006


Case Dropped Against Afghan Christian
posted by techgnollogic at 6:09 AM on March 26, 2006


From techgnollogic's link:
He said several of Rahman's family members have testified that the 41-year-old has mental problems. "It is the job of the attorney general's office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial," he told AP.

I've seen this a few times. Has there been anymore detail on what these mental problems are? Is it anything other than "Anyone who would convert away from Islam and not keep quiet about it must be crazy"?

The law is still against anyone who converts. The dismissal of this case, for whatever reason, doesn't change that.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:09 AM on March 26, 2006


The dismissal doesn't change the law, but it suggests that our outrage and diplomatic pressure had a positive effect, and maybe it will dissuade enforcement of such laws until the laws are changed.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:27 AM on March 26, 2006


Or more likely, this 'foreign interference' will help Islamists get voted into office in Afghanistan's next election by handing them a nice populist wedge issue.
posted by boaz at 10:32 AM on March 26, 2006


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