Poor Abdul Rahman. He lived in Germany, where there is freedom of religion. He forgot that freedom of religion only applies to non-Muslims who convert to other faiths. Muslims aren't allowed to follow their individual consciences. If you're born a Muslim, then in your entire life you will never, never have a choice about what religion to belong to.
Because if you convert from Islam to another faith, good Muslims have a right -- no, a duty -- to kill you.
Oh, wait. How can I say that? I keep forgetting -- we've been assured ten thousand times since 9/11 that Islam is "a peaceful religion."
Many -- probably most -- Muslims who live as citizens in the United States no longer accept the idea that Islam gives anybody the right to kill anybody.
But enough Muslims do believe there is a death penalty on the crime of converting away from Islam that it remains a dangerous thing to do.
Remember that when poor Abdul Rahman went home to Afghanistan, it was his own parents who turned him in and set him up for the death penalty.
You know: Tough love. Maybe a nice beheading will help our son get his head on straight.
Now the international pressure has led the Afghan court to back down. Suddenly there is "not enough evidence." I wonder how that could be. His parents can affirm that he was born and raised Muslim. He himself has openly stated that he converted to Christianity and has no intention, even under penalty of death, to renounce that conversion. Hard for evidence to get much clearer than that.
Obviously, Afghanistan's government recognized a couple of facts that had clearly been pointed out to them by Condoleezza Rice:
1. Americans are willing to let their soldiers fight in Afghanistan as long as we're bringing them freedom. Specifically, freedom from the religious intolerance of the Taliban, which enforced the most rigid, ridiculous interpretation of Sharia.
2. If Abdul Rahman had been executed for no worse "crime" than converting to Christianity, then a huge portion of the support for the war in the US would evaporate. In short order, American troops would be home and Afghanistan would be on its own.
I would have been one of the most fervent in demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops. Not one more American life should be risked to sustain a system of law in which someone who changes religion can be murdered by the state -- or even by a religion tolerated by the state.
Freedom of conversion is at the core of freedom of religion -- indeed, at the core of freedom of any kind. If you cannot change your mind, your stated beliefs, and the religious community you choose to associate with, you are not free.
What I find most amusing is the widespread belief among Muslims that this Sharia law is essential in order to preserve Islam.
Don't they see that it is exactly this law that destroys Islam wherever it is enforced?
To the degree that the law demanding the death of anyone who converts away from Islam is actually enforced, to exactly that degree the nation that enforces it is not a Muslim nation.
Indeed, there are no Muslims at all, wherever that law is enforced.
Because religion is absolutely not about mere outward compliance with the law. It is about belief -- it is about what a person believes in his heart. But in a nation where conversion away from Islam means death, then no believer can be sure that his own obedience is purely a matter of conscience.
If a person "believes" in Islam, but there has ever been a moment when he thought, "since I can't convert to another faith anyway, what's the point of learning about any other way of thinking?" then that person is not a Muslim.
There is no faith under compulsion. Any nation where Sharia is enforced is not a Muslim nation, and none of its people are Muslims. If they cannot choose not to be Muslim, then they have not chosen to be Muslim. Without freedom not to believe, faith is a sham even if you think you are sincere...
Much more follows, such as:
To those who have never known religious freedom, it is difficult to understand that, when faith is voluntary, it grows more robust among those who freely adhere to it. Because it can be heartbreaking to watch your child turn from the faith of his family. Few parents desire it -- even those with faith in atheism are appalled when a child of theirs converts to a religion that has a god in it.
The answer, though, is to teach them well, and make sure your religion actually works in the real world -- that compliance with its law really does make people happier, that the doctrines really do explain what matters in the real world. A religion that refuses to compete on a level playing field with other ideologies is a religion that confesses its own inferiority.
If Muslims believe Islam can only be defended by blood or exile, then obviously they doubt Islam's strength. They are afraid that Islam is not actually true enough to compete for the hearts and minds of its own believers.
To insist that those who would leave Islam must be killed if they do not revert is to insist that Islam is not, in fact, true.
The truly faithful of any religion will insist on the right of people to lose faith and leave the religion. Any other position is, in fact, a confession of one's own lack of faith.
Of all religions, Islam, with a firm belief that all that happens in the world happens as a result of the will of God, should accept that when someone leaves the faith, it is clearly permitted by the will of God, for God is not so powerless as to need bloody-handed men to enforce his will!