What Kind of Freedom Are We Promoting in the Middle East?

Afghanistan’s parliament demanded Wednesday that the government prevent a man, who faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity, from being able to flee the country after his release from prison on Monday. The charges against him are simple: “apostasy from Islam.” His whereabouts are unknown but he is likely still within the country. The Italian government has granted asylum after Muslim clerics had openly and strongly called for his death.

It seems someone always forgets to tell the Afghans, in their rush toward democracy, that freedom of religion is a basic human right in normal democracies. I doubt that any of these new Muslim governments will allow such real freedom any time soon, thus making me less than impressed with all that we have done to spread “freedom” to that part of the world. We so easily forget that our form of freedom is rooted in both Enlightenment political thought and modern Christian advance and that this approach took Europe centuries to develop. The leaders in these Middle East “democracies” are oblivious to this part of freedom. Christians who believe that pursuing justice is a priority of Christ’s kingdom need to keep reminding these political leaders that removing bad leaders is not enough to secure real justice, and with it peace in any real sense, since what we get in return is the rule of clerics who have no tolerance for religious disagreement, especially conversion from Islam to Christ.

Afghan lawmakers debated the issue further on Wednesday and said that Rahman should not be allowed to leave the country. However, they did not take a formal vote on the issue."We sent a letter and called the Interior Ministry and demanded they not allow Abdul Rahman to leave the country," parliamentary speaker Yunus Qanooni told reporters on behalf of the entire body. What next? It appears quite possible that his militant neighbors might kill Abdul Rahman on their own unless he can be removed from Afghanistan very soon.

Let us pray for those persecuted for the sake of Christ like Abdul Rahman and let us remind our government that this is not real democracy. I support efforts to remove pockets of terrorism, and leaders who promote it, but this government building in the Middle East will be a long term sham if we are not careful about real human rights.

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