The case of the Christian convert under threat of execution in Afghanistan may be putting more cracks in the Bush base. For background, see Pamela Constable in today’s Washington Post:
The case of an Afghan man who could be prosecuted and even put to death for converting to Christianity has unleashed a blizzard of condemnation from the West this week and exposed a conflict in values between Afghanistan, a conservative Muslim country, and the foreign countries that have helped defend and rebuild it in the four years since the fall of the Taliban.
The case of Abdul Rahman, a longtime Christian convert who lived in Germany for years and was arrested last month in Kabul, has also highlighted the volatile debate within Afghanistan over the proper role of Islam in Afghan law and public policy as the country struggles to develop a democracy.
My understanding is that Rahman is not in trouble for being Christian, but for converting from Islam. I dimly remember hearing (in a seminar I attended years ago) that under traditional Sharia law, converting from Islam is punishable by death. It may be that the Afghan constitution doesn’t mind if people who have never been Muslims practice a religion other than Islam.
According to Constable, it appears at the moment that Rahman is unlikely to be tried or executed. However, at the New York Times Abdul Waheed Wafa writes that the judge in the case has vowed to resist international pressure when he makes his decision.
There’s no question that the execution of Rahman would be an atrocity. It would also likely stir up more anti-Islamic feeling in Europe and cause the Christian Right to re-evaluate our military adventures in the Middle East, which would be a disaster for the Bush Administration. I take it from the Wafa article that Condoleezza Rice is pulling every string she can pull to set Rahman free.
Word that the Afghani government — the one that the U.S. fought to establish — could execute someone for converting to Christianity hit the American religious Right like a ton of Bibles. Constable writes at WaPo:
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, complained in a letter to Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “How can we congratulate ourselves for liberating Afghanistan from the rule of jihadists only to be ruled by radical Islamists who kill Christians? . . . Americans will not give their blood and treasure to prop up new Islamic fundamentalist regimes.”
Hasn’t someone explained to Mr. Perkins that that’s exactly what we’re doing in Iraq?
Wafa writes at the Times, “In the United States this week, Christian talk shows and advocacy groups rallied their supporters, who flooded the White House and the Afghanistan Embassy with complaints.”
Initial reaction from the Bush Administration was tepid, writes Constable:
On Tuesday, a State Department spokesman urged the Afghan government to “conduct any legal proceedings in a transparent and fair manner.” R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said that the Afghan constitution “affords freedom of religion to all Afghans” and that the U.S. government hoped for a “satisfactory result” of the case.
However, Judd at Think Progress says the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom repeatedly tried to warn the Bushies that the Afghan constitution amounted to “Taliban Lite.” The Bushies ignored them, until now. (Nobody could have anticipated that Afghan judges would adhere to Sharia law, even though the Afghan constitution says they can.)
Rightie bloggers are, of course, all a-twitter. “Where is the outrage from the Left?” says this one.
Oh, I dunno … maybe in the same place as the outrage from the Right on the death of Dilawar the cab driver.
But another had some pointed words for Republicans —
Also, I’d like to make a quick suggestion to Republicans: get on top of this story now. Not just because you should be anyway–obviously, it’s the right thing to do–but also because this story has the makings of another Dubai Ports World scandal written all over it. Fool me once. That’s all I have to say.
In other Christian news — you may remember Tom Fox, the Christian peace activist who was killed while being held hostage in Iraq. Today U.S. and British Thursday freed three more Christian peace activists.
You’d think the righties would be pleased that three Christians have been saved. Guess again.
The Christian peace activists are not “good” Christians because they don’t support the war (be sure to read the comments to the linked blog post, too. Verily I say unto thee, unless thou shalt support George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and vote Republican, thou shalt not be admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven.).
Here’s my favorite blog post on the subject:
One would think that the military that saved these people would recieve a huge thank you, but their press release doesnâ€™t even mention the rescue. They do take the time for mentioning how much they love the enemy however.
Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families.
That in itself can be viewed as an admiral conviction to their faith, even if misguided …
Got that? Jesus’s teachings are misguided.
Update: See also the Green Knight.