Thursday, March 23, 2006

On Abdul Rahman

Abdul Rahman is a Christian in Afghanistan currently on trial for the crime of having left the Islamic faith behind. The prosecution is saying that he may be mentally unfit for trial (under the premise that you'd have to be insane to be a Christian or to leave Islam . . . more or less).

While the media is getting their weight behind this just now, I've actually heard about this for a few days. Michelle Malkin is awesome about such matters, and she's had a series of great posts about this, including one that links to video of Rahman. See her posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

I'm glad the media is covering it, though I suspect many will use it as a club against the administrations involvement in Afghanistan. "See? You haven't changed those stupid savages with democracy at all! Ha ha ha!" Something like that.

I've been mulling my thoughts around about this since I heard about it. Of course, there's nothing more that we can really do along the official channels. Everyone in the seats of power who need to know about it, do. It's just a matter of what actions, if any, they'll take to stop this. The editors of National Review wrote a very good account of what this should look like here.

So really, I don't have much helpful to add, except this: Abdul Rahman has received a lot of coverage of his plight, and that's not a bad thing. Though dying for your faith is certainly not the worst fate in the world, the coverage drastically increases his odds of surviving this, and hopefully he'll live to share his faith another day.

But the fact of the matter is that for every case like his that we hear about, there are hundreds, maybe thousands out there that we'll never know about. In countries all over Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, people are killed because they are the "wrong" faith. Sometimes it's Christians who are killed, sometimes it's not. But whether we're talking about China or Saudi Arabia, freedom of religion is a rare thing outside the western world.

So what should we walk away from with this?

Christians: Pray for Abdul, but pray also for all of your persecuted brethren in the world. These are dangerous times, and they need all the help they can get.

Non-Christians: Realize that religious persecution is real, and it's happening all over the world. If you are a westerner, the rights that allow you to practice your religion (or lack thereof) simply don't exist elsewhere. As bad as you may think you have it, you may practice openly without the threat of death. Whatever your feelings are on the religious beliefs of others, have pity on those who are forced to choose between their faith and their life, and realize that there aren't many ideas that people are willing to die for.


Sean said...

Fair enough. Are you also willing to concede that sometimes people are killed for having no faith at all?

I have a friend who fled Iran when the Ayatollah came to power. Why? Because he was openly atheist.

Hal said...

Sure. Islam isn't incredibly discriminating when it comes to other philosophies.

I made the point simply because some of you talk like Christians are never persecuted for their faith, and if they are, well it was just done by other stupid theists so they deserved it. Or, other Christians have persecuted other theists somewhere at sometime for some reason, so it doesn't matter if it happens now.

-Murphy said...

Yes, Christians are persecuted in certain situations. Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Atheists, Jews, and whatever else one would care to name are persecuted too in certain situations. Which makes the demand that "non-Christians realize that religious persecution takes place" a bit confusing for me, as many of those non-Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs. Does that diminish the persecution of Christians? Of course not. But neither does it mean that Christians are in a unique position here. I believe most of the lack of sympathy for Christian persecution results from an overuse of the term, such that many are numbed.

though I suspect many will use it as a club against the administrations involvement in Afghanistan. "See? You haven't changed those stupid savages with democracy at all! Ha ha ha!" Something like that.

Wait. The fact that someone's on trial for which he might face the death penalty for not believing what the government wants him to believe isn't an indication that things aren't happy times right now? It would seem that yes, the fact that this guy's on trial means that something is awry. If nothing else, it does highlight the fundamental problems with a theocracy, no?

As for his mental health, it appears that their opinion that he's off his rocker for whatever reason they think that has lead to his release, saving his life.

Hal said...

Hey Ryan,

I know Islam persecutes other faiths. The idea was more for Sean (though I'm surprised he actually came back here, and with polite commentary too!). He wrote on his blog like the idea of Christians being persecuted was preposterous. It's not. But some American Christians tend to talk about their own persecution too similarly to what people in other parts of the world go through, and it's just not comparable. I'll never fear for my life in Chicago because I'm a Christian. But the point was that yes, people will imprison or kill you for being a Christian in some parts of the world.

And the whole "insanity = defense" thing may be a face-saver for the Afghan gov't., but it's a horrible human-rights position. I'm told that communist Russia pulled this often when the international eye fell on their behavior ("What? Oh, they're not political prisoners, they're mental patients being treated for psychosis."), but I'm too young to remember any of that.

I'll readily concede that this shows that there is much work yet to be done in reforming Afghanistan. But my prediction was that people would label this as a failure of the Bush doctrine in Afghanistan. I wouldn't call it a failure so much as an expected difficulty. Something of this sort was bound to happen eventually. What happens in the coming weeks will be the pivotal moments. What will the US do if Abdul Rahman is killed by a crazed mob as he leaves his home? What will the reaction be in the US and abroad? The world is watching and waiting.

Hal said...

Oh, and also, he wasn't released on the mental incapacity argument. He was released on a "lack of evidence" statement, which is total BS. There is video of him admitting to being a Christian. This is just the gov't saving face with the rest of the world. Though how they convinced the Taliban judge in charge of the case to go along with this is a mystery to me.

Jen said...

It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe--somewhere in the world there's someone who would kill you for it.