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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Afghan convert not the first

    Freedom of religion: In the U.S., it is something we take for granted and even expect. We know that whether we are Christian or Jewish or Hindu or agnostic or atheist, we are protected. Our choice to worship (or not) as we wish is something we will always have.

    That is not the way it is in many other places; in other countries, minority religions are persecuted or even outlawed. One only need look at most of the non-Western world to see majority religions persecuting one or more minority religions, either simply in practice or through actual government law regulating religion.

    Religious persecution – specifically, Christian persecution – is not new, and the penalty of death for believing in the Christian faith is not new either. That’s why the recent outrage over the previously expected execution of Afghan Abdul Rahman because of his conversion to Christianity was so disheartening.

    Don’t get me wrong – the idea of being sentenced to death because you believe in God instead of Allah, and the deity of Jesus Christ instead of Mohammad, is surreal.

    But where is the government intervention in Sudan, where there is significant and bloody religious and ethnic tension between northern Sudanese Muslims and the southern Sudanese indigenous tribal peoples?

    Where is the moral outrage when Malaysian non-Muslims are imprisoned for criticizing Islam?

    Who is crying out over the execution and torture of both Christian and Muslim leaders in China?

    The answer is no one. There are humanitarian organizations for sure, but governments turn a blind eye. Before we start calling foul, we need to make sure we can back up that call in all instances. Why Afghanistan and not Tajikistan or the Philippines or India?

    Freedom of religion is important to Americans, but we also live in a fairly liberal democratic society. We have free and open elections, three branches of government with checks and balances and a government backed and supported by the people. Can we really transplant our idea of “”freedom”” to a place where those things don’t exist?

    After the U.S. expelled the Taliban from Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai was handpicked by

    In most of the world, persecution based on religion is a way of life. What’s so special about Abdul Rahman?

    the Bush administration to lead the interim government. After elections in October 2004, he was elected as the Afghan president. But the Afghan government looks nothing like the democracy of America.

    Aside from being a parliamentary system, it is governed by the law of Islam, or Shar’ia law. It is this law that calls for the execution of Abdul Rahman for converting to Christianity.

    Even Muslim Karzai did not want Rahman to be executed. It was his hope for a peaceful outcome that led to Rahman’s case being dismissed Sunday. But as many have pointed out, the whole issue is an internal affair. Other countries should not be poking their noses where they don’t belong.

    That is, unless they plan to do that in every situation where that is true. And if they do it for one man in Afghanistan, they must do it for every instance of one man being killed for his faith.

    Every day in China, thousands of Christians die because they do not conform to the Communist edict of religion. Men and women are dragged from their homes and tortured, killed or imprisoned for life.

    Religion caused centuries of turmoil and chaos in regions of the Middle and Near East as well as northern Africa; Christians and Muslims are still in conflict with each other to this day.

    In northern Africa, Christians and Muslims are in near-constant conflict, both sides suffering heavy losses. Countries like Libya, Egypt, Syria and Ghana have cultural clashes on a near-daily basis.

    In most of the world, persecution based on religion is a way of life. What’s so special about Abdul Rahman?

    Sadly, the answer has absolutely nothing to do with Abdul Rahman.

    The real answer is that President Bush worked so hard to “”democratize”” Afghanistan that Rahman’s execution would overturn any progress made in the region. Bush supposedly “”liberated”” the country from the Taliban, but this shows it is nowhere near liberated in any sense of the word. And with Rahman’s very life on the line, even after his case was dismissed, it is clear that liberation is far from existent in Afghanistan.

    It is right that Abdul Rahman will not be executed simply because he believes in the Christian religion; the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights tells us that much. And in the end, someone has to stand up at some point. But once you stand up, you really can’t take your seat again.

    Janne Perona is a criminal justice administration sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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