Islam: 'Appalling and Abhorrent' in World's Blind Eyes

On May 15, an eight-month pregnant mother was sentenced to death by hanging for refusing to renounce Christ in a court in Khartoum, Sudan.  According to the LA Times:

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, who has a young son and is married to a Christian from South Sudan, violated Islamic sharia law, the court said. She insists she was raised Christian, not Muslim.

The court also ordered Ibrahim to be flogged for having sexual relations with her husband, since her marriage is not recognized by officials.

Ibrahim refused a court order Sunday giving her several days to renounce her Christian faith, which resulted in the sentencing Thursday….

Ibrahim, currently jailed with her son, will be allowed to give birth and raise her second child until the age of 2 years but then faces execution. Sudanese authorities refuse to allow Ibrahim's son to reside with her husband because the husband is Christian.

Tragic as this story is, it is also commonplace in Islamic countries.  Why?  Because Islamic law does in fact punish the apostate from Islam, including with death, in accordance with the express commands of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.  Indeed, many Muslim clerics believe, as top Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi once said on live television, that “[i]f the [death] penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet” in the seventh century.

Of more significance is the Amnesty International statement concerning Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s plight.  While its criticism is ultimately an attack on Sudan’s legal system, the statement unwittingly provides a glimpse of how the international community would view Islam if it could actually understand that these human rights abuses are products not of this or that government or regime, but of Islam itself. 

According to the Amnesty International statement:

The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent.

Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law.  The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which includes the freedom to hold beliefs, is far-reaching and profound; it encompasses freedom of thought on all matters, personal conviction and the commitment to religion or belief (emphasis added).

If, as Amnesty International declares, flogging and executing a person, in this case a woman, because of her “religious choice” and marrying a man of a “different religion” are “appalling and abhorrent” – if they are a “flagrant breach of international human rights law” – what do we make of the fact that Muslim converts to Christianity are punished and sometimes killed all across the Islamic world?

Consider the following anecdotes, a few examples from 2013 alone, culled from my monthly “Muslim Persecution of Christians” series and listed in alphabetical order by country:

Afghanistan: A member of Afghanistan’s Parliament said that all Afghans who have converted to Christianity should be executed.  His exact words: “Afghani citizens continue to convert to Christianity in India. Numerous Afghanis have become Christians in India. This is an offense to Islamic Laws and according to the Quran they need to be executed.”

Algeria: The wife of Ali Touahir, a 52-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity, left him, taking their seven-year-old daughter, and is divorcing him in court.  One of his wife’s brothers openly threated to kill him.  The wife’s lawyer asserted: “It is not possible that my client [the Muslim wife] still remain under the same roof with a man who has renounced his religion, as he became apostate; and we are not ignorant of the punishment that is due an apostate under sharia [death].”

Cameroon: Two Muslim converts to Christianity were shot dead and two others wounded in the Christian-majority African nation, where Muslims make approximately 20% of the population.  One of them was previously threatened by the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram to return to Islam or “face Allah’s wrath.” 

Egypt: A court sentenced an entire family – Nadia Mohamed Ali and her seven children – to fifteen years in prison for converting to Christianity.  A born Christian, Nadia had earlier converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.  Reconverting back to Christianity after the death of her husband, she attempted to reflect this change formally on her identity card and her children’s, which created suspicions among security, who arrested the family.

Separately and days ago in Egypt, after a former Muslim woman on live television announced her apostasy and lack of faith in Muhammad as the “Messenger of Allah,” she was insulted, ridiculed, and thrown off the set by the host.

Iran: Imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini was reported as “facing physical and psychological torture at the hands of captors demanding he renounce his beliefs.”  The 32-year-old married father of two, who left his home in Boise, Idaho to help start an orphanage in his former country, detailed “horrific pressures” and “death threats” in a letter to family members: “My eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky…  They are only waiting for one thing…for me to deny Christ. But they will never get this from me.”

The imprisonment and torture of Muslim converts to Christianity in Iran is quite common (recall the plight of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani).  According to Adnkronos News, “renouncing the Muslim faith is punishable with the death penalty [in Iran]. Over 300 Iranian converts to Christianity have been arrested over the past two years, according to opposition websites.” 

Morocco: A fatwa, or Islamic decree, by the government’s top religious authority calls for the execution of those Muslims who leave Islam, causing many Christian converts to live in fear.  Lamented one Christian: “The fatwa showed us that our country is still living in the old centuries – no freedom, no democracy.  Unfortunately, we feel that we aren’t protected.  We can be arrested or now even killed any time and everywhere.  The majority of the Christian Moroccan leaders have the same feeling.  We are more followed now by the secret police than before.  Only the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us courage and peace.”

Pakistan: A 16-year-old Muslim boy who converted to Christianity was abducted in Peshawar by Taliban-linked Islamic militants, “and his fate may already be marked, as he is considered ‘guilty of apostasy.’”  As one Pakistani pastor explained, “[i]f a young Muslim converts to Christianity in Pakistan, he is forced to live in hiding.  Every Muslim might feel compelled to kill him.  The change of religion is not punished by the civil law; it is punishable by Islamic law.  For this reason cases of Muslim conversion to Christianity are very rare and some convert in secret.”

Saudi Arabia: A Christian Lebanese man, accused of helping a Muslim woman convert to Christianity, was sentenced to six years in prison and 300 lashes.  The woman was also sentenced to six years and 300 lashes, but she managed to flee the nation.

Somalia: The al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab (“The Youth”), which has vowed to cleanse the Horn of Africa of all Christian presence, has slaughtered many dozens of Muslim converts to Christianity – men, women, and children – in the last few years.  Most recently, for example, Al Shabaab shot to death 42-year-old Fartun Omar, a widow and mother of five, for converting to Christianity.  Months earlier, they had killed her husband for the same “crime” and had been hunting for the wife

In a separate incident, Al Shabaab publicly executed a 28-year-old man after determining that he had in fact become a Christian.  He was shot to death.  After the execution, the man’s parents, widow, and son fled the region.

Al Shabaab Muslims also seized Hassan Gulled, 25, for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, and imprisoned him and tortured him.  According to local sources, “Al Shabaab have been torturing him to see whether he would deny his Christian faith. Since last week, no information has surfaced concerning Gulled. There is a possibility that he could have been killed.”

Tanzania: Lukia Khalid, a pregnant mother of three, explained how when she told her Muslim husband that she had converted to Christianity, “[h]e threatened to kill me if I was to stay with him. I then decided to escape that night with my three children to a neighbor’s house. … We left only with the clothes that we were wearing.  The command was so urgent that we could not wait any longer. We had to leave immediately.” 

One can go on and on with examples.  (See Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, pages 96-135, for a more thorough exposé, including on the doctrine and history of apostasy in Islam.)

Returning to Meriam Ibrahim, the pregnant mother set to be executed for refusing to recant Christ and embrace Islam in Sudan, some questions and observations are in order:

Are all the other anecdotes listed above not equally “appalling and abhorrent” – to use Amnesty International’s words describing Meriam’s specific plight?  Are they not all a “flagrant breach of international human rights law”?

If so, and if the international community is actually serious about putting a stop to them, should it not try to ascertain the true source behind them?  And considering that Muslim converts to Christianity are being attacked all throughout the Islamic world – including in nations as diverse as Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, and Cameroon – surely the source is not something as simple as “Sudan’s legal system.”

Indeed, Muslim converts to Christianity are under attack even by their former coreligionists in Europe.  In Norway alone, for example, two Iranian converts out for a walk were stabbed by masked men shouting “infidels!”  One of the men stabbed had converted in Iran, was threatened there, and immigrated to Norway, thinking he could escape Islam’s apostasy penalty there.  Earlier, an Afghan convert to Christianity was scalded with boiling water and acid at a Norwegian refugee processing center: “If you do not return to Islam, we will kill you,” his attackers told him.

Of course, the true source of all these attacks on Muslim converts to Christianity – in nations that do not share race, language, culture, politics, or economics – is Islam itself.  Anyone with common sense, anyone with the ability to be honest with oneself, must concede as much.  There is no other reasonable way to explain such identical patterns of abuse in such a wide array of nations that share little besides Islam.

But as long as the international community and human rights organizations fail to employ some common sense and honesty – fail to call a spade a spade – so will they ensure that countless more innocent humans like Meriam Ibrahim  continue to suffer “appalling and abhorrent” treatment, simply for exercising their “right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” under Islam.

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