“Off with his head!”

 Uncategorized
Mar 272006
 
Authors: Tyler Wittman

As CSU’s hangovers were still dissipating, the case of Abdul Rahman was slowly starting to make headlines. Rahman, a national, was arrested by the Afghani government for abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity after a Bible was found in his possession.

According to religious (sharia) law in Afghanistan, the sentence for leaving Islam is death. Afghanistan has been feeling mounting pressure from the rest of the world to handle this situation with tolerance and respect. At the same time, they’re also feeling internal pressure to “cut him into little pieces” and “cut off his head,” as some Muslims in the country have said.

Who’s in charge here? The evil Queen of Hearts?

Across the country, clerics and citizens are demanding that this poor guy’s head be removed from his shoulders. It’s like a fail-safe mechanism for the religion to ensure that if any converts lose their faith, they lose their heads as well. As a note, the Qur’an doesn’t specifically prescribe death for ‘apostasy,’ but does call it a criminal sin. Now I know I just don’t get it because I’m an American, and my ideas of freedom and tolerance aren’t universal. So I should just stop right here, correct? Spare me.

This whole situation reminds me of The Eagles song, “Hotel California.” “‘Relax’ said the night man, we are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Or else we chop your infidel head off!

It’s only fair to note that one group representing the religion, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), voiced its disapproval of the man being tried for his beliefs. But still, one thing troubles me. There are no Islamic countries coming out in defense of this man. Either that or they aren’t being reported very widely. In fact, many Islamic scholars believe this is none of the West’s business. Kind of like the reconstruction and security of your country is none of our business, too? Good point, I’m sure you can manage on your own.

In a move that tried to appease all sides of the issue, the court dismissed the case on Sunday for a “lack of evidence.” Well, it’s a start. Monday, Rahman was released from jail, and he now seeks asylum in a foreign country. Who can blame him? The mobs have been in the streets saying that they’ll take Rahman’s execution into their own hands if given the chance.

Human rights 1, Islam 0 (I’m sure Islam/radicalism is winning in the big picture).

But seriously – lack of evidence? I’m glad the man’s life has been spared, from the courts at least, but how about the state dismisses the case because they realize how barbaric it is to kill a man because of his religious beliefs? The fact that Rahman was arrested is just pathetic. This isn’t a universal belief of all Muslims, but if Islam can only be converted to and not from, under pain of death, then it’s not a religion – it’s a threat. Some Muslim scholars in Afghanistan are saying that Muhammad advocated death for “apostates.” I certainly hope that’s not the case, because if it is, then I deeply pity his followers.

This whole situation highlights a number of issues that beg our attention. First of all, Islam is on trial here. The government released Rahman for a lack of evidence, but what about the next “apostate” arrested? Clerics across the country have threatened to overthrow the government over this issue. For goodness’ sake, these clerics were praying all across the country on Friday for Rahman’s death. Who are they praying to? Satan?

Secondly, are our troops in these countries deposing radical and ultra-conservative governing bodies only to have new ones crop up in their place? If so, then what’s the point? As long as Afghanistan wants our continued military and economic support, then it would behoove the government and religious “scholars” to stop acting like cavemen.

Tyler Wittman is a senior majoring in speech communication. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.

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