Amongst the easy going, tolerant adherents of the religion of peace it has to be admitted that those ‘radical’ Muslims are a bit of a downer. These people actually take the Koran seriously. Thus torture, kidnapping and beheading are considered pretty normal fare for those who refuse to share their allegiance to fun loving, open minded Muhammad.
As we have seen things can get pretty tough for western Christians and Jews who fall into their hands. Things are much much worse for converts from Islam. Followers of Islam everywhere see it as an ‘opt in’ movement with no ‘opt out’ clause; once in you are in forever.
As Meriam Yehya Ibrahim from Sudan found out, even if you have been an Orthodox Christian all your life but your father was a Muslim that makes you one too and, according to all Muslims, there is no opt out possibility. Although now safe in the West Meriam was sentenced to death for the ‘crime’ of leaving an Islam she had never joined.
A sheikh pled with the court at Meriam’s sentencing hearing, ‘how dangerous a crime like this is to Islam and the Islamic community’. Which is precisely why they try to enforce their intolerant laws, if people were free to commit the ‘crime’ of leaving Islam that would undermine the Islamic power structure which keeps the politico/religious authorities in place. It can be dangerous to leave Islam.
In 2009 a web publisher from Iran, known only as FG, petitioned the Swedish government for political asylum to escape the persecution of the all powerful Iranian government. Sadly asylum wasn’t granted. The Swedish government did not think that publishing material against the Iranian government and being threatened with imprisonment and death was sufficient reason to be given asylum in oh so liberal Sweden.
In 2010 the Iranian took an action placing him beyond the pale in Iran; FG committed the crime of converting to Christianity. Once again he asked the Swedes for asylum, this time with religious persecution added to his plea. In 2011 the Swedish government again denied his request.
Given that under Shari’a law apostacy from Islam is a capital offense and Shari’a courts aren’t noted for their judicial fairness, and since no Islamic regime likes to be criticised for its political doctrine, FG has two pretty strong counts against him.
He then appealed to the Fifth Section of the European Court of Human Rights, no doubt imagining that given his circumstances he had a pretty good case for Sweden’s decision to be overturned. In another of those decisions which make ordinary people shake their heads in disbelief the ECHR found that ‘sending him back to Iran did not violate his right to life since Iranian authorities may have been unaware of his religious conversion.’ The decision further went on to ‘reason’ that FG could probably avoid any danger (by which they mean somehow stay alive) if he kept his faith a ‘private matter’.
At least the ECHR seem to have accepted that there is no doubt that Christian converts in Iran face very real and substantial danger if they are open about their faith.
We can have no idea of the faith, if any, of the members of the Fifth Section of the ECHR. However, anyone with the scantiest knowledge of any faith would know that an integral part of faith, particularly the Christian faith, is being able to worship openly and to discuss faith with others.
Religious freedom, which Muslims have everywhere in the civilised world, means freedom to be open about one’s faith. Meanwhile, FG ‘may’ be safe if he keeps his mouth shut and goes underground.
FG has not given up. The unbelievably naive decision of the Fifth Section has been appealed to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.
According to Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign which, along with Alliance Defending Freedom, has just been allowed to represent FG, “This case demonstrates the need for countries in Europe to more clearly understand the nature of cases involving converts to Christianity. The grounds given by Sweden for denying asylum to Sweden, failed to take into account internationally recognized standards.”
As ADF Legal Counsel, Paul Coleman said, “The human rights situation for Christians in Iran has been well-documented, and there is little doubt that a Christian convert would face real risk of harm if he is forced to return to his country. Christians should be able to practice their faith openly without fearing for their lives.”
With a single exception, every chapter of the Qur’an begins with the words Bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim, “In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.”
Will we find Sweden’s sizeable Muslim population, who enjoy total freedom of religion, petitioning their government to be merciful and compassionate and allow FG to experience the same freedom of religion in Sweden that they have?
Will they petition the government of Iran, run by their fellow Muslims, to allow FG to experience the same freedom of religion they have in the West?
Or, as is more likely, will we see yet again that for Islam toleration is a one way street, and most dishonourably it’s a street along which our governments and courts are content to walk?