Monday, March 20, 2006

Islamic Tolerance

The spirit of the Taliban still lives in Afghanistan:

An Afghan man who recently admitted he converted to Christianity faces the death penalty under the country's strict Islamic legal system. The trial is a critical test of Afghanistan's new constitution and democratic government. The case is attracting widespread attention in Afghanistan, where local media are closely monitoring the landmark proceedings.

Abdul Rahman, 40, was arrested last month, accused of converting to Christianity.

Under Afghanistan's new constitution, minority religious rights are protected but Muslims are still subject to strict Islamic laws. And so, officially, Muslim-born Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and not for practicing Christianity.

Appearing in court earlier this week Rahman insisted he should not be considered an infidel, but admitted he is a Christian. He says he still believes in the almighty Allah, but cannot say for sure who God really is. "I am," he says, "a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ."

Rahman reportedly converted more than 16 years ago after spending time working in Germany. Officials say his family, who remain observant Muslims, turned him over to the authorities.

On Thursday the prosecution told the court Rahman has rejected numerous offers to embrace Islam. Prosecuting attorney Abdul Wasi told the judge that the punishment should fit the crime.

He says Rahman is a traitor to Islam and is like a cancer inside Afghanistan. Under Islamic law and under the Afghan constitution, he says, the defendant should be executed. The court has ordered a delay in the proceedings to give Rahman time to hire an attorney.

Under Afghan law, once a verdict is given, the case can be appealed twice to higher courts. This is the first case in which the defendant has admitted to converting and is refusing to back down, even while facing the death penalty.

If convicted, the case could ultimately force President Hamid Karzai's direct intervention. The president would have to sign the papers authorizing Rahman's execution, a move that could jeopardize Mr. Karzai's standing with human rights groups and Western governments.

So far, President Karzai has not commented on the case. But political analysts here in Kabul say he will be under significant pressure from the country's hard-line religious groups to make an example of Rahman.

What kind of religion is it that has to threaten people with death if they leave it? It reminds us of the old East Germany of the 1960s and 1970s whose soldiers would shoot fellow citizens who sought to flee across the Berlin wall to the West. East Germany was a sick, dysfunctional society. A religion that kills those who seek to flee to other faiths is equally sick and dysfunctional.

Michelle Malkin has links and phone numbers for the Afghanistan embassy for those who wish to call on behalf of Abdul Rahman. We urge all our readers to call and entreat the Afghan government to spare this man's life and, for heaven's sake, set him free.

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

How to reduce criminal recidivism:

A man who was attacked by would-be robbers at the upscale Village of Cross Keys shopping center in North Baltimore Friday afternoon grabbed his own gun and fatally shot one of the assailants in a parking lot, city police said.

Investigators believe that the man who opened fire just before 2 p.m. might have been on his way to a bank when he was attacked by three men who jumped out of a white car in front of a Williams-Sonoma store.

During the brawl, the man who had been attacked was able to pull away to retrieve a handgun concealed inside his Honda Accord, and then he fatally shot one of the attackers, said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

Bullets shattered windows of his car. The other two assailants hopped back inside their car and sped off with a fourth man driving, Moses said. The four men did not appear to be armed, police said.

Police did not release the name of the man who was attacked. But several employees at the center and a high-ranking police official with knowledge of the investigation described him as a gas station owner in his 50s who regularly makes deposits at the Columbia Bank and who might have been targeted.

The shooting victim, whom police had not identified Friday night, was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Moses said. Within 30 minutes of the shooting, Moses said, police had found the white vehicle used by the attackers, abandoned at Cold Spring Lane and Greenspring Avenue. The men were being sought Friday night.

Moses said the man who was attacked had a permit for the gun and would probably not face criminal charges. The city state's attorney's office reviews fatal shootings.

There's not much doubt that the gas station owner has insured that at least one thug won't be let back out onto the streets to bludgeon another business owner. There's more on this story at the link.

Why the Fizzle?

If it's true that the war's popularity has plummeted along with Bush's approval ratings then why did the anti-war protests marking the third anniversary of the war's onset pretty much fizzle in the U.S. and Europe Saturday?

There are several possible answers, among which three seem most likely:

1) Americans are not being killed, maimed, or personally inconvenienced at rates that would generate deep and serious opposition to the war.

2) The war's opponents offer no credible alternatives to continuing the effort to build a democracy in Iraq.

3) There's no draft.

All three of these are no doubt important factors, but perhaps the most important is that the premise in the first sentence above is simply incorrect. Americans will back the war as long as they think there's a chance it'll succeed, and although they'll tell pollsters that they're tired of the war and that it's time to bring our troops home, it's doubtful that most Americans will really feel strongly about that until it becomes clear that Iraq is a lost cause. The media is trying to portray it that way, of course, and the Democrats are telling us it is every chance they get, but it appears that the majority of American people are not yet convinced of it.

This is remarkable, actually, because the administration's efforts at winning the American people's support for their undertaking in Iraq has been little better than absolutely pathetic. Indeed, were this the late sixties or early seventies Washington would be brimful with protestors, but for the reasons mentioned above, it's not.

There is one other way things are different today: In 1970 there was no alternative media. Once the big three television networks and the major newspapers turned against the Vietnam war, the government had few resources with which to make the case for sticking it out. Today, talk radio and the blogosphere are potent alternatives to the miasma of defeatism that pervades liberalism and the Democratic party. Because of the influence of talk radio and the internet, the prophets of doom, defeat, and dissimulation are gaining very little traction, and, in fact, are more likely to look like fools and buffoons than like oracles. Witness, in this regard, the fate of lefties such as Dan Rather, Michael Moore, and Cindy Sheehan.

The American people being what they are, this could all change in a trice, but as of now it just doesn't look like the left has the muscle, either political or intellectual, to force us out of Iraq. Nineteen seventy, after all, was a long time ago.

The Yale Taliban

The fireworks over Yale's acceptance of a former Taliban official into its student body continue unabated, as well they should. John Fund brings us up to date on the latest details.

When one considers all that the Taliban stands for in terms of political and religious oppression and mass murder, the tyrannization of women, the extermination of homosexuals, and its hostility to every other allegedly liberal value, we cannot imagine why Yale would accept onto their campus an unrepentant representative of that worldview. The Taliban Yalie, by the way, possesses no more than a fourth grade education. To make room for this cretin, Yale had to deny some far more deserving student a slot.

We wonder why all those who were so incensed about the U.A.E. buying a toe-hold in the U.S. through the ports deal are not equally incensed over Yale's perfidious behavior. Perhaps Yale alumni all across the country will be sufficiently outraged at their alma mater's incomprehensible stupidity to withhold future financial support from this once great institution.