Robert Spencer--Afghan Interior Ministry intelligence authorities have arrested an Afghan citizen, Said Musa, for apostasy – converting from Islam to Christianity, in yet another case that raises serious questions about what the U.S. is hoping to accomplish in Afghanistan, and how likely it is to be accomplished.
This has happened before. In 2006, an Afghan named Abdul Rahman made international news for being arrested and facing the death penalty in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to Christianity. Rahman was ultimately spirited away to live in freedom, albeit in hiding, in Italy. But the questions his case raised about the Karzai regime and the nature of the “freedom” that the U.S. was bringing to Afghanistan were never answered, and have reappeared with the Said Musa case.
Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts’ north zone, explained that Islamic law – which mandates a death penalty for apostates from Islam – would be a determining factor in Musa’s case: “According to Afghanistan’s constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict.”
Indeed, the Afghan Constitution stipulates that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.” It declares that “the religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam,” and that “followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.” And the “beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam” forbid Muslims to leave that religion, on pain of death. The Islamic death penalty for apostasy is as old as the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s command that if a Muslim “discards his religion, kill him.”
The Said Musa case thus offers the Obama Administration an opportunity to clarify what exactly it intends to accomplish in Afghanistan, and to demonstrate its commitment to human rights, including the freedom of conscience that is denied by Islamic law. Obama has spoken repeatedly about according Islam and the Muslim world “respect,” and about his determination to fight for the rights of women who wish to wear Islamic headcoverings in the U.S. He has even said that he considers it his duty as president to fight against negative characterizations of Islam. (Read more.)