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Sunday, April 02, 2006

OEMR - Selective Afghan Outrage? 

Jim (the BooYahoo guy) recently asked some questions:

Christians are outraged that Afghanistan is considering the execution of a man, simply because he converted to Christianity.

That is a justifiable reason to be outraged.

But were they outraged when Afghanistan stoned a woman to death simply because her husband accused her of adultery?

And have they been outraged when homosexuals have been persecuted, oppressed, and executed by Afghan officials?

Just asking ...

First, let's look at the two cases that this blog has not discussed. From the BBC on April 23, 2005:

A woman has been stoned to death in Afghanistan, reportedly for committing adultery.

The killing is said to have taken place in the Urgu district of north-eastern Badakhshan province.

A local Afghan government official confirmed the death, and said the government would investigate the case.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said the woman had been sentenced to death by a decree from the local religious scholar.

Under Afghan law, cases such as this should go through the local courts....

Correspondents say this is the second time a woman has been stoned to death since the ousting of the Taleban in 2001.

Both events happened in the same area.

During the Taleban's rule, women were regularly stoned to death for adultery.

The (literal) gay-bashing incidents were reported in a 1998 (e.g. Taliban era) letter to the United Nations. Inasmuch as the letter was written to UN bureaucrats, it is mind-numbingly boring, but here's a brief excerpt:

On February 24, 1998, three Afghan men convicted of sodomy survived an attempted execution in which they were buried alive for 30 minutes....The three, named Fazalur Rehman, Ahmad Shah and Abdul Qahir, had all been convicted by an Islamic court of committing sodomy. The execution ceremony took place at Kotal Morcha, just north of Kandahar.

On March 22, 1998, two homosexual men in Afghanistan were buried alive. The young men of 18 and 22 years in age were sentenced to death by a court of the Taliban government militia....The two, Abdul Sami, 18, and Bismillah, 22, residents of Herat province, were placed beside a wall of dried mud which was bulldozed upon them....

According to Mr Mohammed Hassan, (governor of Kandahar and the senior mullah nominated to lead the Taliban in talks with representatives of the former government), "We (i.e., the government) have a dilemma on this; the difficulty is this: one group of scholars believes you should take these people to the top of the highest building in the city and hurl them to their deaths. Other scholars recommend you dig a pit near a wall somewhere, put these people in it, then topple the wall so that they are buried alive." Mr. Hassan went on to state that a third group of scholars argued that homosexuals should merely be put on public display with blackened faces, and that this latter was the approach favored by the Taliban movement., stating that "We have punished people in this way in Kandahar,"Homosexuality is a very big crime."

Well, I did find a Christian response, or lack thereof, to sharia stonings in Nigeria. From 2002:

The Nigerian woman whose sentencing to death by stoning for adultery caused an international outcry was celebrating on Monday after being acquitted by an Islamic appeal court in the northern city of Sokoto.

There was pandemonium in the cramped court as the judgment was announced.

Safiya Huseini, smiling but looking overawed, was surrounded by journalists and well-wishers as she held her one-year-old daughter Adama.

The conception of this child out of wedlock had been proof of adultery at her first trial.

"Today I am happy. I thank God," she said.

She was condemned to death by a sharia court last October after asking it to force a man she said raped her to pay for her daughter's naming ceremony.

But as she celebrated her freedom, it emerged that another woman had been sentenced to be stoned for adultery in the nearby Nigerian state of Katsina....

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a devout Christian, has expressed unease at harsh Islamic sentences but has been careful not to upset Muslims by condemning sharia outright. It would be politically damaging and could stir up conflict between Christians and Muslims. Inter-communal tensions are never far below the surface....

The United Methodist Women were more active in condemning another Nigerian case:

Amina Lawal Kurami, a woman in her thirties from Katsina, northern Nigeria, will face the death penalty for committing adultery. The Islamic court which practices Shar’iah law in northern Nigeria condemned Kurami to be stoned to death in August 2002. This sentence is scheduled to be carried out once her baby finishes being breastfed. In contrast, her ex-lover, Yahaya Mohammed who denied having sexual relations with Kurami will face no punishment.

Kurami’s sentence is not only inhumane, but discriminatory simply because she is a woman. By allowing Kurami’s former lover Mohammed to go unpunished, this ruling sets a double standard for the behavior of men and women. Stoning is cruel and tortuous punishment as the victim is killed slowly often in front of family members.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the president of Nigeria, denounced the punishment issued by the court. However, Obasanjo will not be able to overrule the court’s decision because the federal government does not have power over the regional courts in Nigeria.

And the UMW isn't just being a bunch of feminazis in condemning stoning:

Another example includes a man, "Ado Baranda . . . to be stoned in May for the rape of a girl nine years of age."5 Although Baranda committed a crime, stoning will not take away or correct the situation. Instead, Baranda could be rehabilitated or punished by a method that does not include pain and torture.

And Nigeria isn't the only country cited by the UMW:

Unfortunately, Nigeria is not the only country where stoning serves as a form of punishment. Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates all stone individuals guilty of adultery, prostitution and those with murder charges. "In May 2002, in Pakistan a raped woman, Zafran Bibi, was labeled an adulterer and sentenced to be stoned … even though she did not willingly consent to the sexual act." Women such as Zafran Bibi are left unprotected although they themselves are victims of crimes. The supporters of stoning use it in the name of Islam, "but … it is not Islamic and the Koran does not make references to it."

I guess they're right. In 24:2, the Quran explicitly does not mandate stoning for a fornicator:

[24.2] (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement.

But before we condemn primitive Islams, let's look at a couple of Bible verses. From Leviticus:

Leviticus 20:10 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

And here's another one:

John 8:3-11 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

grahame discussed these verses in 2005:

Now to the passage in hand concerning the woman taken in adultery. Notice that he saw straight through the hypocrisy of these "men" immediately. Read through the passage again and watch how he handles the situation. They came to him saying in effect "Moses said she should be put to death. But what do you say". Another trick to catch him out by showing how he was supposed to teach people to disobey the law of Moses.

But he didn't answer them. Instead we are told that he just bent down and wrote in the dust that was on the ground. When they persisted in their questioning he stood up and said to them "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her". Just look at the wisdom of his answer. We are told that they were all convicted in their conscience and gradually filtered away....

Here again we are compelled to ask, where was the man who committed adultery with her? Why was not he brought as well? Social injustice has been committed against women all down the centuries and was prevalent in that Jewish society back in Jesus' day as well. Jesus saw through all this and in much of his teaching sought to correct people's thinking on these matters.

This elicited a Muslim response:

Two interesting things to note:1) Christ didn't disagree with the punishment of Stoning 2) Adultery in Christs evaluation is sinful/wrong. Now Jesus' Kingdom is not of this world. He brought a pure spiritual message. Now Moses(peace)had a canon law much like Muhammad(saw). Christ did not say that the law was wrong. Why? Because the situation of Moses was different from his. Moses had to deal in canon law where Christ strictly dealt with spirituality and not political affairs. Our Prophet dealt with spirituality and political affairs. Laws were performed much like Solomon, Moses and a David. And yes the harshness(mercy) of Shariah was implemented ie. stoning.

What Muslims in the Muslim world are dealing with are remnants of a Divine Law that its present adherents of it, don't understand its just nature and how properly to apply it. This is why Tariq Ramadan called for Moratorium on coporeal punushments in the Muslim World. I would urge others to read the article and understand the nature of rightly applied shariah. Our notions of Justice are not dictated by our whims but by Truth, One and Only. Also if you read the Quran you will soon realize that it is not full of fun. God is extremely strict in it and sins overlooked in this world will cost us in the next.

Here's some of what Wikipedia has to say about Tariq Ramadan, referenced above:

Tariq Ramadan advocates that Muslims living in the West should not view themselves as foreigners or temporary residents in their respective countries, but rather as full citizens with full rights and responsibilities. In some respects, he argues for integration and not alienation from the surrounding society. For example, the main theme of his book, To Be a European Muslim attempts to bridge the gap between being a Muslim and being European....

In 2004, during a television debate (100 Minutes pour convaincre) with the then French minister of interior affairs, Nicolas Sarkozy, he refused to condemn the application of hudud laws - which are controversial due to the extreme punishments, such as amputation for theft and the stoning of adulterers and of those with dissident views on Islam (as Prof. Nasr Abu Zayd). He only wanted to propose a 'moratorium'. In doing so, he distanced himself from many mainstream islamic scholars (as grand mufti Soheib Bencheikh, prof. Zaki Badawi, prof Azizah Al-Hibri) who massively reject stoning.

But back to Afghanistan. If there was any Christian outrage to the stonings and buryings in Afghanistan, I was unable to find it. There is certainly a lot of anti-Muslim outrage, but the best example I found was from someone simplying "defending Western civilization." This person could be defening Freemasonry for all I know.

From that site, I ended up at Freedom House:

Freedom House is an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world. Freedom is possible only in democratic political systems in which the governments are accountable to their own people; the rule of law prevails; and freedoms of expression, association, belief and respect for the rights of minorities and women are guaranteed.

While this sounds absolutely wonderful, Freedom House does not address the case of a democratic political system in which the government, at the request of the people, implements a rule of law which does not guarantee freedoms for minorities or women.

In summary, Jim may be wrong on Nigeria, but he appears to be right on Afghanistan.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Very informative post. I wonder why some stories manage to catch fire in the news media and others do not. Well, gosh, it's nice of them to let that mother finish breast-feeding before killing her. How compassionate.
Nice work!

The questions on my blog were rather ham-fisted, in that I was basing my opinion solely on what "outrage" I was made aware of through standard media sources. I'm glad to find out I was at least partially right in my insinuation.

You may be interested to know (and you may already) that the passage in John that you quote is actually not in the earliest scrolls found. It was added at some later date. Still, whoever wrote it had an eye for the compassionate side of Jesus that I rather like ...
Good point on that passage in John, Jim. (A similar comment pertains to the end of the Gospel of Mark.) However, that passage is consistent with other things that are said about Christ.
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