Did anyone think our Islamic allies would be nice?

When I criticized Grand Ayatollah Sistani's medieval and murderous statements, I didn't mean to suggest that gays were the only victims of fundamentalist Islamic persecution or that Iraq was in any way unique in that regard.

Far from it.

The reason I'm especially concerned about Iraq is because not only did we go there to advance the cause of freedom and human rights, but we're still fighting there. Presumably, we still have some influence over what goes on in Iraq.

And now -- if this BBC report is true -- the human rights situation in Afghanistan is even worse. Because it's not just religious opinion; it's the law:

An Afghan man is being tried in a court in the capital, Kabul, for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Abdul Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and could face the death sentence under Sharia law unless he recants.

He converted 16 years ago as an aid worker helping refugees in Pakistan. His estranged family denounced him in a custody dispute over his two children.

It is thought to be Afghanistan's first such trial, reflecting tensions between conservative clerics and reformists.

The guy was found carrying a Bible, of all things:
When he was arrested last month he was found to be carrying a bible and charged with rejecting Islam which is punishable by death in Afghanistan.

Trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah told the BBC that Mr Rahman, 41, would be asked to reconsider his conversion, which he made while working for a Christian aid group in Pakistan.

"We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him," the judge told the BBC on Monday.

But if he refused to reconvert, then his mental state would be considered first before he was dealt with under Sharia law, the judge added.

(Via Andrew Jackson, who adds that there has been a deafening silence from "peace loving Muslims." And Bush.)

In all honesty, it must be admitted that there are probably more taxpaying Christians who supported Bush than there are taxpaying gays who supported Bush. But human rights issues shouldn't come down to who gave more money or who worked harder for the Republican base.

A lot of people have been asking whether Islam is compatible with democracy. I like to hope it is, but if stuff like this keeps happening people will start asking whether Islam is compatible with human rights. History shows that giving people the right to vote is no guarantee that they'll respect human rights.

While I'm still waiting and hoping for the triumph of truly moderate Muslims, my dark side recogizes that despite the well-meaning rhetoric, Machiavellian realpolitik remains alive and well.

How quickly we forget that Stalin was once our friend.

UPDATE (02/22/06): President Bush has spoken up about the trial of the Christian in Afghanistan:

President Bush said Wednesday that he is "deeply troubled" that an Afghan man is being tried for converting to Christianity.

Abdul Rahman, 41, faces a possible death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago. He has been charged with rejecting Islam, a crime under this country's Islamic laws. Bush said in a speech that a young democracy is growing in Afghanistan, but he's concerned about the case.

"We expect them to honor the universal principle of freedom," Bush said. "I'm troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the universal application of the values that I talked about. I look forward to working with the government of that country to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship."

Good for President Bush! I'm glad that the word "universal" is not being interpreted as having an exception for Islamic countries.

posted by Eric on 03.21.06 at 05:31 PM


Over at Dean's World Dean once wrote that democracy is a meanas to an end- liberty.
That was a new idea for me at the time- more and more I realize he is absolutely right. Democracy may be the ONLY means to that end, but still it is only a means...
So hard to remember that.

Harkonnendog   ·  March 21, 2006 6:55 PM

Islam cannot be compatible with Democracy. In a Democracy ideas and solutions to problems are discussed and voted on. The majority then holds sway until it is time to vote again. Under Islam all answers and solutions are already provided in the Koran. Even though these answers were given 1400 years ago there can be no deviation today and no discussion or voting to change.

Ralph Woods   ·  March 21, 2006 7:57 PM

I think you go way to far, Ralph. How do you explain Turkey, for example?

Harkonnendog   ·  March 21, 2006 8:27 PM

I for one welcome our new cyborg overlords.

Beck   ·  March 22, 2006 11:24 AM

I prefer Tuborg!

Eric Scheie   ·  March 22, 2006 1:31 PM

As long as moslems do not get the ideas that democracy and human rights is included in their Koran, it's alright. But if they do, the true meaning of "democracy and human rights" will be distorted.

rolker   ·  March 22, 2006 11:01 PM
LUCY   ·  March 23, 2006 11:26 PM

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