Monday, March 20, 2006

To Die For

Islamic Democracy At Work

I was in favor of the war in Afghanistan. I am in favor of serious efforts to help the Afghan people create a free Afghanistan. I just wonder if this is possible in a state that is clearly theocratic rather than democratic.

Take the plight of Abdul Rahman who was arrested in February after this family accused him of converting to Christianity. It turns out that rejecting Islam is a crime in Afghanistan, and Adbul could be sentenced to death if convicted.

This should not be a long trial. If I were the defense attorney I would call one witness, Abdul himself, and ask him point blank (may be not the best choice of terms), “Abdul, are you a Christian?” Abdul could then decide what he is at that moment. What would he say? You might hope that Abdul simply tell the truth and, if need be, die for his beliefs. I, on the other hand, would hope that he was smart enough to affirm his loyalty to Islam and save his ass.

When I was growing up during the Cold War (which was only cold if you didn’t happen to be in Korea or Vietnam) I was taught, “Better dead than Red,” red being the color of the Soviet Union. I never really bought this idea. Would I really be better off a dead American than a live Comrade?

The same is true of my Jewishness. Given the choice of dying for Moses’ God or living with Mohammed’s God, I would choose Allah. Christians used to put Jews in similar situations all the time: praise Jesus and live, praise his Dad and die. Praise Jesus!

Am I a coward? Could be. But maybe I just don’t think religious ideas are worth dying for. First of all, I suspect we made them all up. So why die for a fiction? Second, even if they are true, I really have no way of knowing which one is true. What if Islam is true and Judaism is false and I die for Judaism only to have Allah pissed off at me when I get to meet him?

I worry about poor Abdul. I hope the judge has mercy on him for rejecting Sharia law, but I doubt he will. And I am sorry that as a citizen of the United States I am implicated in this theocratic farce.

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