Islam, Islamophobia, Christophobia, and Jew hatred

Here is a reality check to keep in mind when someone issues another condemnation of Islamophobia in the Western World.  Surely, we have plenty of room for improvement, but we are pikers at the game of religious discrimination.

In many Muslim countries, discrimination against Christians and Jews is not just practiced, it is codified into law.  Thus, consider Egypt, which is one of the more secular and moderate countries in the Muslim World with a sizable religious minority of Coptic Christians.  Egyptian law stipulates that a "Muslim man may marry a Christian woman but the opposite is forbidden; and if a Muslim woman does marry a Christian man, both the husband and the wife would be considered adulterers".  This quotation is drawn verbatim from a UN document.

It is noteworthy that civil, rather than just religious, laws prevent Christian men from marrying Muslim women.  Marrying an Israeli woman is an entirely different matter altogether.  "An Egyptian appeals court upheld a ruling that orders the country's Interior Ministry to strip the citizenship from Egyptians married to Israeli women" (Associated Press report of June, 2010).

While conversion to Islam is encouraged in Muslim countries, conversion from Islam to another religion is a sin.  And since the legal systems in many Muslim countries are based on Sharia law, such apostasy is also a crime, and we are not talking about the most fanatical countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia or Sudan.   In a widely publicized case, a citizen of now-democratic Afghanistan, Abdul Rahman, was arrested in 2006 for converting to Christianity.  He was threatened with execution but eventually he was released from prison under heavy pressure from Western governments.

A curious piece of trivia in Harper's index style: the approximate number of mosques in New York City: 80; the approximate number of mosques in Jerusalem: 70; the number of churches and synagogues in whole Saudi Arabia: 0.  Furthermore, Christians in Saudi Arabia have been arrested and lashed in public for practicing their faith openly.  We do not know what punishment is meted out to those who openly practice the Jewish faith in Saudi Arabia.  But this is what we do know, courtesy of a Reuters report in 2005.  A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a teacher to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes.  His crime was promoting a "dubious ideology, mocking religion, saying the Jews were right".

Amnesty International and the UN officially have confirmed cases of slavery in Mauritania and Sudan.  Who are the slaves?  In Sudan, the slaves are usually non-Muslims and slavers are Muslims.

My friendly neighbor is a Palestinian man who moved to California a few years ago and he had it made:  he bought a house and a small grocery store here.  In his native land, the moderate Palestinian Authority (mind you, not fanatical Hamas) considers selling real estate in the areas under its control to Jews or Israelis "high treason" punishable by death.

The examples given above are not meant as a comprehensive scholarly treatment of the subject.  But they give the reader a taste of reality.  A quote from the Sermon on the Mount (Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7) pretty much sums it up: Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
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