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Monday, March 27, 2006

Is it just me, or are others concerned about the lack of religious liberty in the nations we "liberate"?

The news about Afghanistan's desires to execute a man for becoming a Christian came as something of a disappointment. Yes, like many Americans, I'm all a-twitter with the glorious dawn of democracy in that liberated land, but with all due respect, I personally disagree with the idea of executing people for religious differences. OK, I admit to a certain bias here, not wanting to be executed myself - but wouldn't it be more democratic to just, say, pillage and beat Christian converts rather than killing them?

I mean, didn't we liberate Afghanistan from the dreaded Taliban? Didn't we bring liberty and freedom to that land? Didn't Americans give their lives for the liberation of Afghanistan, which now has shown a certain fascination with eradication of Christianity and the killing of converts? Frankly, I think such policies could ultimately have a chilling effect on religious liberty.

I remember the media gushing over the fact that women didn't need to wear burkas now, telling us how much hope there was in this land of emerging freedom. I guess we need to overlook these little inconsistencies and stick with the dream.

And does anyone else care about the increased difficulty the Christians of Iraq are facing now that their land has also been liberated? I mean, after so many centuries in Iraq, it is tragic that now is the time they feel a need to flee that nation. (And does making Islam the official state religion in the provisional constitution we gave Iraq bother you?)

So where is the religious liberty that we have been hoping to see? Does it matter?

13 comments:

annegb said...

I can't answer your question, Jeff, but I would be telling that guy to get the heck out of Dodge.

I don't think I would have the moral courage he has shown. I just don't. All humor aside, I cannot tolerate discomfort. Which is good for me that I have very little to tolerate.

I'm not sure where I picked this up, but it seems there has been an attitude that Islam is Afganistan's choice and America's refusal to support that judge in giving that guy the death penalty was not allowing Afganistan their choice. Does that make sense? I couldn't quite get around it, either.

Anonymous said...

American foreign policy for the past 60+ years is responisble for turning the Middle East into a nightmare zone of violence and fanaticism. The lynchpin of this policy has been, of course, the establishment of a sectarian confessional state in what was once a pluralistic multicultural area. Under the Ottomans and after, Palestine was home to Christians, Moslems, Jews, Samaritans, Parsees and others. Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, and a host of other ethnicities called it home. Now it has become completely polarised, ancient Christian communities are fleeing, and the non-Christians that remain, both indigenous Moslems and Zionist colonisers, become increasingly hardline. Moderate Islam is confined to the periphery of the Mohammedan world, and even in Turkey (Europe's hope for a moderate modern for of a Moslem religion) the hard-liners are growing.

Thank you, USA. As if bloody Disneyland and Coca-cola weren't enough to give the world.

AlexG said...

This is a sensitive issue so I will tread carefully. The so-called 'liberation' was more in the line of putting an 'American friendly' regime. What it does to its citizens is largely irrelevant. This has been true in many 'liberations' not only in the Middle East, but elseware. Consider Panama under the 'ruthless' Gen. Noriega. For many years, George Bush Sr. protected Noriega deleting from classified documents any references to Noriega's ilegal activities. That changed when the relationship between the US and Panama soured. Then he was the bad man. I find interesting that in the Rambo movie series, the main character goes to fight to Afghanistan alongside those who would later become the 'terrorists'. The liberation of Afghanistan and Irak has been a lie that was told to the people in order to justify a military action. Three years after the 'liberation' of Irak, what we see is worsening conditions. There is no real freedom in Irak or Afghanistan. Only 'brave' governments that stand with the US in their fight against ... well, the current enemy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it succintly: "A (expeletive) yes, but our (expeletive)"

Most Islamic women like to wear the burka. Should we tell them how to dress just to feel 'liberated'? That sounds like something we heard before, in which we would follow only the 'right' thing, without a choice. No, that is not freedom. Why should we impose our standards on others? Is democracy agreeing only with those that share my opinion? No, not by far.

I think that the commentary made by one singer is very indicative of this situation: "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Irak and the post-liberation civil war just enhances that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments.

"Perpetual wars for perpetual peace." Ever hear that before?

War is the key to gaining power. It is the lynchpin of modern collectivism, of the internationalist elite who see a wonderful new world with them on top that can be achieved through war against whatever enemy needs to be the current target to justify the next stage of their quest for power.

President Bush promises us perpetual war against the shadowy enemy that we have built up and can never destroy.

Ian said...

Mormanity,

I have been asking myself these questions over the past few days as well. The current administration is truly caught between a rock and a hard place.

Bush, being the great "christian" that he is was hoping to bring "freedom" to those in Afghanistan, his brand of freedom. Well, apparently, they don't want his brand of freedom.

I find it more than slightly ironic that our men and women have sacrificed so much to bring freedom to Afghanistan, only to have them begin threatening the execution of Christians.

BJB said...

These are excellent questions, bearing on the hubris and ignorance of the decisions to go go to and methods chosen for engaging in these two wars.

The shortsightedness of the Republican administration and congress, and the weakness of the Democratic minority, all obvious to some before the fact, are now becoming apparent, hopefully to all, after the fact.

I hope that we will, though likely we will not, learn from these mistakes.

Bookslinger said...

It wasn't the Afghanistan government that went after this guy, it was some Muslim clerics who demanded his prosecution/death (Ok, give him a fair trial, and THEN we hang him!)

The government probably arrested him and put him in prison for his own protection until they could figure out what to do. Being in the high security prison was probably the safest place for him at the time.

Since the Muslim clerics have a lot of influence, the new government had to do something to make it look good in their eyes. Therefore, arresting him and putting him on ice kept the clerics from stirring up lynch mobs.

From one of the news articles: "Rahman was being prosecuted for converting to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He was arrested last month after police discovered him with a Bible."

This raises questions: if he became a Christian 16 years ago, why wasn't he arrested and executed under the Taliban ? Did he keep his conversion secret for 16 years? Did he just recently decide to come out of the closet?

In 1990, the Soviet-backed puppet government ruled Afghanistan. That government fell in 1992, civil war ensued, and the Taliban effectively came to power in 1996.

There must be more to his story.

I later read where he was turned in by his family during a child-custody dispute.

Sounds to me like being a Christian in Afghanistan is more a matter of "Don't ask, don't tell" kind of thing

Mike Parker said...

Columnist Mark Steyn made an excellent point last Sunday: "We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him." (full article here)

The Bush administration was shortsighted to think that the type of government these "liberated" countries would opt for would look like pluralistic Western democracies. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq want governments based on sharia law, and under that law, one can convert to Islam, but not from it, with offenders punished by beheading.

Jason said...

There is no real freedom in Irak or Afghanistan.

I haven't been to Afganistan, but I'm in Iraq now. Let me tell you, there's a whole lot more freedom now that there was 3 years ago. The economy is booming here. There are 4 or 5 times as many cars on the road. Almost everybody can afford an air conditioner now (for that alone I bet thse guys are glad we came). TV and radio stations are popping up everywhere. Last year here there was one station that I could tune in too. Now there are a lot more.

That's on the economic side of things.

All the Iraqis I've actually talked too love us here. (of course, the ones that hate us probably don't like to talk to us, so, who knows).

The Arabian Stake (the stake that covers all of Iraq) president was here a few months ago. He told us how the missionary work is moving along, soldiers are being baptized, plus there are branches rising up in several of the cities. We aren't allowed to talk to the Iraqis about religion. But the Mormon Iraqis can. I'm not sure if the government recognizes Mormonism yet (they probably still don't), but at least it's in a better way than it was back when Saddam was in power.

I don't know where everybody get's their bad news from. It doesn't seem to make it to me.
ha ha, imagine that, and I'm one of the guys out here in the middle of it!

jason said...

oops, I meant to put quotation marks around that first phrase.

instead, I just italicized it. scrud, it makes it look like I think there's no freedom over here!

my bad...

Mike Parker said...

"There are 4 or 5 times as many cars on the road."

And 2 out of 5 are on their way to blow something up.

"Almost everybody can afford an air conditioner now."

Which is useful for the 3 hours a day that electricity is available.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff, I'm just a little bit surprised at your incredulity in your original post in this thread.

I don't think we liberated Afghanistan and Iraq to impose our constitution on them.

We liberated them so that _their people_ could create their own constitution and their own form of government.

If the will of their people wants an official state religion, I don't think it's in our power or in our interest to deny them that.

ltbugaf said...

But if the will of a majority is to suppress the basic human rights and liberties of the minority (as, for example, by adopting an official state religion and killing those who don't follow it), then there is only a trading of one oppression for another. We have higher hopes than that. We hope to support true freedom.

This is not merely imposition of "American values." The basic freedoms I'm talking about are articulated in the United Nations Charter and in numerous international pacts. They are recognized as peremptory norms of international law.