Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dee Perez-Scott: Radical Islam really is that Bad

When Salman Taseer, the governor of the Pakistani province of Punjab, was murdered by his own bodyguard, there was a wave of support for the murderer – from religious figures and ordinary citizens, from several political parties, and even from a group of lawyers. The reason? Taseer had spoken out against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and in support of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Such harrowing stories cannot be ignored in the discussion of Islam and religious tolerance. Last year, the controversy over the so-called ground zero mosque turned into a debate about Islam and “Islamophobia.” There is no question that some rhetoric is that debate crossed the line into anti-Muslim bigotry. But to many in the pro-mosque camp argued as if violent extremism in Islam today is a fringe phenomenon.

Recent events in Pakistan remind us that is simply not the case. The videos below illustrate another aspect of Islamic intolerance.

There is not a single majority Christian nation today that executes or imprisons people for religious crimes like blasphemy or apostasy. Islam is still in the middle ages in that regard and there is not much hope it will ever reach the 21st century standard of human decency on religious crimes.

Several leading majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan punish these offenses with death. An otherwise modern country, Iran remains in the dark ages when it comes to blasphemy, apostasy and other crimes. The Asia Bibi case is a frightening example of the precarious position of religious minorities under these laws. Bibi, a rural laborer, was asked to bring water to a group of other women with who she was working in the fields. Some of the workers refused to drink the water because it had been touched by an “unclean” Christian. Bibi got into an argument with them and defended her faith – and was reported for blaspheming against Muhammad. The mother of five was sentenced to death after a trial in which she had no access to a lawyer. Leading Pakistani clerics have urged President Zardari to reject her clemency petition.

Even in some Muslim countries where such barbaric punishments do not exist, the acts have the support of depressingly vast portions of the public. In Egypt and Jordan, recent polls have shown, over 85 percent of the population supports capital punishment for anyone who converts from Islam to another faith. Many Islamic scholars, including some reputed “moderates” such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi continue to defend the death penalty for apostasy.
Even in modernized Malaysia and Indonesia, where the law guarantees religious freedom and equality and which have been touted by many as models of equal and peaceful coexistence between religions in majority-Muslim states, the picture is not as sunny as is often claimed. In practice Sharia courts have the power to place virtually insurmountable obstacles in the path of Muslims who want to convert to another faith or marry a non-Muslim.

Of course, modern Islam is not monolithic. There are a few Muslim who have condemned and stood up against terrorism. But their sotto voce utterances have had no impact in the larger picture. As long as murderous bigotry remains common in the Muslim world, opposing anti-Muslim bigotry in the West will be a difficult and graceless task. As long as Muslims attack Jews and rape Swedish girls in Malmő, Sweden and shut down traffic in Paris and New York, they are unlikely to be perceived as moderates. For change to take place, the problems of the present must be recognized and honestly confronted.

The United Nations has failed miserably to establish appropriate human rights criteria for membership in that body. The U.S. has continued to provide foreign aid to countries that never support us in the U.N., that are clearly not our friends, and some of which still indulge in the abhorrent practice described above. U.S. foreign aid should be cut off immediately until these countries change their behavior and until they eliminate punishment for blasphemy and apostasy and other behaviors that are not punished in the West.
Newsmax, -- Cathy Young
For change to take place, the problems of the present must be recognized and honestly confronted.

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