Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Islacracy's Warts

In Afghanistan, home of a nascent Muslim democracy, an indigenous convert to Christianity is facing the death penalty for...well, converting to Christianity (h/t Double-M):

An Afghan man who recently admitted he converted to Christianity faces the death penalty under the country's strict Islamic legal system. The trial is a critical test of Afghanistan's new constitution and democratic government....

Abdul Rahman, 40, was arrested last month, accused of converting to Christianity. Under Afghanistan's new constitution, minority religious rights are protected but Muslims are still subject to strict Islamic laws. And so, officially, Muslim-born Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and not for practicing Christianity. [emphases added]

Um, isn't that like legalizing wetness, celebrating by jumping in the nearest lake, and then getting dragged away in chains for failure to be dry? Just how exactly does this constitute protection of minority religious rights? Isn't conversion one of them?

Appearing in court earlier this week Rahman insisted he should not be considered an infidel, but admitted he is a Christian. He says he still believes in the almighty Allah, but cannot say for sure Who God really is. "I am," he says, "a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ."
Doesn't sound to me like he's in any doubt about God's identity. It's that certitude that has doubtless so thoroughly provoked the local yokels.

I know the reaction well. Other than, you know, being put on trial and threatened with execution. Although I was physically threatened online once.

Rahman reportedly converted more than 16 years ago after spending time working in Germany. Officials say his family, who remain observant Muslims, turned him over to the authorities. On Thursday the prosecution told the court Rahman has rejected numerous offers to embrace Islam. Prosecuting attorney Abdul Wasi told the judge that the punishment should fit the crime.
He converted a decade and a half ago and he's just now catching hell for it? There's got to be some other factor at work here. The fact that his family ratted him out may be a telling clue.

Gotta get back to that minority religious rights thing, though. "The punishment should fit the crime"? Converting to Christianity is a capital offense?

In Islam, yes, it is:

He says Rahman is a traitor to Islam and is like a cancer inside Afghanistan. Under Islamic law and under the Afghan constitution, he says, the defendant should be executed. The court has ordered a delay in the proceedings to give Rahman time to hire an attorney. Under Afghan law, once a verdict is given, the case can be appealed twice to higher courts.
Sounds like Cardassian justice - the accused gets a trial but the verdict is pre-determined.

And some people still call Islam a "religion of peace." Even in a liberated, democratic Muslim state that is no longer a threat to its neighbors, it is still a bestial bane upon its dissident citizens.
Andy McCarthy strikes a similar theme in a piece that shows the dark side of everybody's favorite imam, the Ayatollah Sistani:

A human-rights group in London which lobbies for homosexuals alleged last week that Sistani had held a press conference in which he’d issued a fatwa setting forth his judgment on gay sex. According to the group, Sistani pronounced that the conduct was “forbidden” and that those who engage in it should be “punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”

Not wanting to take an interest group’s allegation at face value, this report stirred the operators of a blog called “Healing Iraq” to check Sistani’s website. I discussed that site here on NRO a few weeks ago in connection with Sistani’s stated view that non-Muslims should be considered in the same category as “urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, blood, dogs, pigs, alcoholic liquors, and “the sweat of an animal who persistently eats [unclean things].”

Nice, huh? McCarthy goes on to speculate, with not unjustifiable cynicism, whether Sistani is simply counting heads and bearing the smug assurance of a poker player holding four aces. And he wonders whether democracy "at any price" is necessarily democracy at all:

[Sistani's] view is a sine qua non of terrorism. It matters little that Sistani, in the fashion of lip service, is....“consistent in condemning terrorism.” He is a central influence in the Islamic world. That is the world which is, undeniably, the font of virtually all modern terrorism. How surprised, then, should we be to find him giving animating voice to beliefs integral to the pathology that is spurring global barbarism? The pathology that says there is an us and a them, and the them is a sub-human species, not fit to be touched and, at least occasionally, worthy of being “killed in the worst manner possible.”...

The only democracy the United States should be building is one based on liberty, equality, the inherent dignity of all human beings, and the conviction that authority to rule is reposed in the people rather than in some external theological or political force. That, surely, is the democracy of President Bush’s soaring rhetoric, if not his Administration’s on-the-ground practice. If we are going to sacrifice American blood and treasure on this project, that better be what we are sacrificing them for....It is not achieved by a celebrated constitution’s being given the green-light by such an imam only after Islam has been installed as the official state religion and the sharia
made a primary source of fundamental law.

This brings us almost full circle back to the central intra-conservative dispute over the direction of the GWOT: Is the purpose of the war effort to build full-fledged, Jeffersonian/Madisonian "little Americas" all over Southwest Asia and settle for nothing less than that standard, or is it to eliminate terrorist regimes and replace them with "less than perfect" quasi-democracies - or even benign autocracies, if there is such a thing - that will still persecute their citizens but won't be breeding grounds for, and sponsors of, national security threats?

Just as with the other in-house right-wing "discussions," I find myself reminded of the old axiom to "not let the perfect become the enemy of the good." That's why I'm so enthusiastic an aper of Michael Ledeen's "Faster..." catch-phrase. Because if we are gambling the outcome of the GWOT, and therefore of potentially millions of American lives, on the benevolence of a man who considers us to be pee, poop, cum, cadavers, and other assorted defilements that sound straight out of a Johnny Carson "Karnak the Magnificant" routine, I want the remainder of our enemies quickly dispatched before he can change his self-interested mind.

UPDATE 3/22: The Bush Administration came to Abdul Rahman's defense yesterday - kinda-sorta:

The Bush Administration yesterday appealed to Afghanistan to spare the life of a man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity, but said the matter was one for the Afghan government and courts to decide.

In a case that has sparked international outrage, the remarks of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns were in sharp contrast to condemnations of the trial by lawmakers and by leading European allies.

Briefing reporters with Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah at his side, Mr. Burns said the U.S. government was watching the case of Abdul Rahman closely, but added, "This case is not in the competence of the United States government. It's under the competence of the Afghan authorities."

But the governments of Germany and Italy, which - like the United States - have substantial troop deployments in Afghanistan, lodged strong protests at the prospect of Mr. Rahman's execution, with former Italian President Francesco Cossiga saying Italy should withdraw its 1,775 troops in Afghanistan if the death sentence is handed down.

I don't know which is the more remarkable - "post-Christian" Europeans showing much greater outrage over anti-Christian persecution than the supposedly snake-handling American regime, or the very outrage itself given that ordinarily Western elites don't even notice anti-Christian persecution anywhere on the globe much less give a rat's ass about it. Maybe it's the opportunity to unravel Afghanistan as they've been trying, and failing, to frak up Operation Iraqi Freedom - i.e. the irresistable temptation to stick it up Bush - that is proving so overpowering.

But if President Karzai is going to let Talibanis rule over Afghan courts as though Operation Enduring Freedom had never happened, he ought to catch hell for it - and from a lot bigger figure than a Foggy Bottom flunky.

[HT: CQ]

UPDATE 3/23: The Afghans took a mulligan, declaring Mr. Rahman "mentally unfit" instead. Which sounds dismayingly like how the old Soviet Union used to "diagnose" its political dissidents (Remember "socialist reality"?). But they're not going to execute him - at least for now.

But what about the next "traitor to Islam"? Just how long will this "born-again" concern over persecution of Christians on the part of the Christophobic media last? And will it be extended to places like Red China and Pakistan and Sudan and Indonesia where the faithful are also under withering assault?

Okay, I was just joshing with that last question....