March 28, 2006
Islamic clerics in Afghanistan are none too happy about the release (thanks to international pressure, including President Bush) of that poor guy who faced the death penalty for being a Christian. They're doing what they do best -- stirring up the mob and demanding his death (and the death of all Christians):
On Monday, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision Sunday to dismiss the case. Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.Trying to save someone's life strikes me as a very odd way of "attacking," but then, these are Islamic clerics. . . As Eugene Volokh (via Glenn Reynolds) said earlier,
Trying to prevent people from being killed for their religious beliefs is not an "assault against Islam." It's defense against Islam, or to be precise against a certain strand of Islam that regrettably cannot be dismissed as just some unimportant lunatic fringe.Usually the term "fringe" refers to loud, extremist minorities. By definition, people on the fringe are in the minority. If they are in the majority, then they cannot (and should not) be called "fringe." The problem I have seen in American politics is that fringe ideological activists end up in positions of leadership by default, because normal people tire of being in the same room (or perhaps "tent" if that's not an Islamophobic term) and listening to them till all hours.
Might the same thing be going on in Muslim countries?
Islamic clerics (of all denominations) never fail to disgust me. Thanks to their efforts, we are becoming quite fluent in 7th century medieval vocabulary. How many Iraqis will listen to such sermons then go out on a rampage to slaughter their Nawasib neighbours, or their Rafidha friends?Zeyad has a cell phone video of the incident, with cars driving by the whole time. ("Normal" traffic.)
I don't know how many Iraqis would actually go out and lynch someone, but the act doesn't require a huge number of people. A very small mob -- call them the "fringe" if you will -- can, by just a few lynchings, intimidate the vast majority of normal people who only want to be left alone to live their lives in peace. Given time, many of the ordinary people will chime in at least verbally, in the hope that they might be able to avoid being dragged through the streets and butchered themselves.
According to Eugene Volokh, even members of the accused Afghan Christian's own family expressed agreement with the murderous fringe:
What's worth remembering about the case, though, is that "even moderate Muslim clerics, as well as members of Rahman's own family, have said that death is the only fair and logical punishment for him." If that's "moderat[ion]" as Muslims go, that's mighty troubling.It might just be cowardly behavior by otherwise "moderate" people, along the lines of, "Yes, kill our relative! Just please leave us alone!"
I don't mean to compare Islamic mob psychology to American mob psychology, but I have noticed that it's human nature to want to be left alone. Especially by activists. (Far be it from me to call them lunatic fringe. That might be interpreted as persecution.)
When I was a kid I noticed that bullies were experts at playing victim, and they were the first to cry foul if a victim got the better of them. Of course, victims usually didn't get the better of bullies. Often they ended up joining them. It's always tough for people to sit in judgment when they simply want to be left alone.
posted by Eric on 03.28.06 at 07:34 AM
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