Thursday, March 23, 2006

Religion & Roach Motels

Yes, in 2006 (or 1427 - whichever calendar you use), you can still stand trial for apostasy. Just ask Abdul Rahman, the 40-something Afghani, who is facing execution because he has confessed to the supreme unpardonable sin: he has rejected Islam and converted to Christianity. For this, he must die. But in truth, the unpardonable sin lies in the fact that he was fingered by his own family. His real crime? - a child custody dispute.

Now a few months ago, Afghani President Hamid Karzai signed the new Constitution into law which included these 2 gems:

*Article Two Ch. 1, Art. 2 The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam. Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law
*Article Three Ch. 1, Art. 3 In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam."

Any sentient creature can see that Article Three clearly abrogates any perceived suggestion of religious liberty in Article Two. But there are concerns that he may be "forgiven" because he may be insane and therefore, unfit to stand trial. Prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari admits, "we think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person."

Now how does an abnormal Afghani speak? Has Mr. Rahman been articulating a hankering for Danish blue? Has he espoused the concepts of religious tolerance? Has he torn the veil off of his wife's head. In an interview he says, "They want to sentence me to death and I accept it, but I am not a deserter and not an infidel. I am a Christian, which means I believe in the Trinity." Oooooooh, crazy talk there Abdul - clearly he isn't playing with a full deck. Then again, Mr. Rahman is refusing to recant - perhaps that's why the prosecution thinks he's as crazy as a loon.

Perhaps it's the prosecution who's crazy - but crazy as a fox (sorry, no more 'crazy' similes). It seems likely that they are willing to play the wingnut card in an effort to save face, although they'll have to offer something a bit more damning than the above example - although I could never get my head wrapped around the concept of the trinity. The president's religious advisor elaborates, "If he is mentally unfit, definitely Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped." Wow, Islam is a religion of compassion!

There are pressures mounting from those countries who have troops stationed in Afghanistan. Franklin Pyles, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada sums it up best, "If we are not going to fight for all freedoms, then what are we doing (in Afghanistan)?" But there are also pressures mounting from locals who want to crucify (bad pun - maybe he'd get stoned) Mr. Rahman. His neighbour (a poster child for good fences make good neighbours) argues, "For 30 years, we have fought religious wars in this country and there is no way we are going to allow an Afghan to insult us by becoming Christian. This has brought so much shame."

Cat in Rabat hits her head over and over again on the table.

Why is it always shame? - why is it never about conscience??

Man, this makes Catholic guilt look good and my feelings about Catholicism aren't warm and fuzzy either. Tempted to convert to Islam? - bear in mind what Anh Nga Longva, a Kuwaiti jurist, once warned, "We always remind those who want to convert to Islam that they enter through a door but there is no way out". Kind of like a roach motel.

I wonder if tomorrow I'll read about a witch burning ...

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