Sunday, March 04, 2012

Murderous intolerance in Islamic states

In public affairs, the admonition of Rodney King--”Can’t we all just get along?"--has much to be said for it. I try to practice this precept as far as my (perhaps limited) ability permits. Still there are boundaries that test the rule, and among these are the views and actions of powerful religionists. No, I am not referring to Christian fundamentalists, but to the architects of official policy in a number of self-declared Islamic states.

In Iran, Yusuf Naderkhani, who is in his mid-thirties, converted to Christianity when he was 19 years old. Later he became a pastor in the Iranian city of Rasht. In 2010 he was convicted of apostasy. The U.S. government, the European Union, and human rights organizations have repeatedly urged the Iranian leadership to release him. Whether this will happen is uncertain.

An Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman (born 1965) was arrested in February 2006 and threatened with the death penalty for converting to Christianity. On March 26,2006, under heavy pressure from foreign governments, the court returned his case to prosecutors, citing "investigative gaps." He was in effect granted clemency on the grounds of insanity, and was allowed to leave for Italy.

Last year a Pakistani Christian woman was sentenced to death for the crime of blasphemy.

We are repeatedly told that these actions reflect Muslim extremism, departing from the humane principles of the true spirit of Islam. Yet these harsh penalties are in accord with Sharia law. Isn’t that by definition a manifestation of the true spirit of Islam?

What baffles me is how many observers on the left, who are rightly critical of Christian intolerance, have adopted Muslims as their poster children. Why this double standard?



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