Monday, March 27, 2006

Asylum for Abdul Rahman

Breaking news is that Abdul Rahman, who faced execution in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity, has been released. Under Sharia, Islamic law, anyone who converts to another religion must be executed. The reason why he has been released is not because of any recognition of religious freedom on the part of the government there, but because his family members claimed in court that he was deranged. Thousands have demonstrated on the streets of Kabul and elsewhere in the country demanding that he be beheaded. The Taliban may be gone, but the truth is that this is still a country where people fear to follow anything other than Taliban-like rule. The repression of women in particular has continued, for example women have been murdered for helping other women register to vote, girls schools have been attacked, and a female television show host was murdered for playing pop music on her show. But it has not been limited to women. Barbers have been threatened in Afghanistan and at least one has been murdered for cutting off beards.

Rahman has requested that he be granted asylum in another country, and I hope that he is granted asylum. The United States should be first in line to grant it. This is not a time to timidly try to avoid stepping on toes in the middle east on the issue of religious freedom. The United States, which was settled in many cases by people who wanted the freedom to practice their religion, must take the lead and be the first country to offer asylum to Mr. Rahman. It is absolutely certain that if Abdul Rahman, who has refused to renounce his conversion, remains in Afghanistan then he will be murdered.

I've blogged before about how we must support freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech and the press. These are very important tests of our democratic ideals, but freedom of religion is equally as important.

I've also blogged against the state supporting a religious viewpoint, but it is very clear that the first amendment was written to protect the rights of all to practice their religion as they please, and we should make that clear by supporting Mr. Rahman's right to practice his religion in a place where he won't have to fear an angry mob slicing through his neck with a scimitar.

If we cannot see and act on that, then we are no longer America.


Karen said...

Asylum should be granted for those who seek it.

As far as what's happening in Middle Eastern culture, I'm completely against their believes regarding woman. But I also feel that it's not the place of the U.S. to force believes down throats of any country.

After Card resigned today, Bush said: “The next three years will demand much of those who serve our country. We have a global war to fight and win.”

Okay Bush, then what about Darfur, North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Equatorial Guinea!?! They have the World’s 10 Worst Dictators.

Eli Blake said...

Gosh, Karen,

Don't give the man any ideas. He's already agitating to invade Iran, let's not do anything to convince him that the best way to get rid of a dictator is to invade the country and impose our style of government.

Much better to set an example that others will of their own will want, and demand, and if necessary take great risks to achieve. That is what worked in Eastern Europe and Latin America.

What we should do for the countries you mention is 1: Not only set an example, but in the case of places like Darfur give the people who live there the means to defend themselves (as opposed to U.S. troops to intervene and get stuck in the middle of a civil war), 2: provide food, medical help and help resettling for refugees who have been forced to leave their homes, and 3: Recognize the very real threat that many of them face and provide refuge for anyone who chooses to defect here. Notice that Cuba does not even crack the top ten, but we provide (as we should) immediate safe entry to any Cuban who sets foot on American soil. We should do this for all people who flee political, religious or ethnic repression in any country.