This event is a perfect example of why the neo-cons ideas about democratizing the Middle East are naïve. Neo-cons have failed to properly assess the cultures of the Middle East, and have ignored the fact that religion does have an impact on cultures. While democratic ideas are not Christian, they were allowed to grow and fully develop within the West due to the underlying cultural influences of Christianity in the West. The influence of Christianity on Western culture took hundreds of years, but this influence on Western culture allowed, even fostered, the ideals of democracy and tolerance for differing views.
The neo-cons have attempted to force Western ideas on a wildly different culture overnight in Afghanistan and Iraq. The religious beliefs that underlie Middle East cultures, as a whole, do not embrace difference of opinion, tolerance for those differences, and is unfamiliar with democratic ideas, as the West understands them. Ever since 9/11, President Bush has shown a stubborn refusal to understand what truly motivates Muslims. Muslims are uncompromising in their faith (which is NOT a religion of peace), which could be a positive statement if it werent for the fact their faith demands that non-believers convert or die. It is time for Bush and his fellow travelers in the neo-con ranks to wake up to reality concerning the Middle East and the influence Islam has on the actions of the people living there.
Hear are just a few reports on the attitudes of Afghanis concerning the 41-year-old Muslim-turned-Christian, and their views on the West looking down on them for these attitudes:
Senior Muslim clerics are demanding that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces."
"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate.
Said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque. "The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed."
Raoulf, who is a member of the country's main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, exclaimed, "Cut off his head!" sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left."
Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest
Shiite places of worship in Kabul, said Rahman must not be allowed to
leave the country.
"We are a small country and we welcome the help the outside world is giving us. But please don't interfere in this issue," Nasri said. "We are Muslims and these are our beliefs. This is much more important to us than all the aid the world has given us."
These views, on the whole, reflect the Muslim views of the Middle East (and other Muslim countries as well). Basically, they are uncompromising, intolerant, violent, and if you didnt notice, they dont want anyone who disagrees to leave (back to the old convert/conform or die thing). Why are we spending American blood and treasure in a land that not only is incapable of reform, but also has no desire to reform?
The weak responses from the West to this situation is a reflection on the Wests loss of principles, integrity and our crumbling values. President Bush was deeply troubled, when he should have been outraged. At least our government pointed out to the Afghanis they should honor their own constitution, which declares a respect for freedom of religion. Australias Prime Minister, John Howard, was more animated. Howard said he was sick at the thought of someone being killed for their religious beliefs, and that Anyone who could advocate killing someone for changing his faith is no friend of Australia's. Italy was the toughest, declaring they would pull troops out if Afghanistan killed this man. If America is the leader of the free world, why are other Western nations making stronger statements than we are?
Contrary to what Bush says, there are no universal principles of freedom. Each country, and each culture has its own ideas. The Middle East was a mess before the U.S. went in, and was a mess even before the Brits redrew the borders after WWI. We are not going to solve the problems of the Middle East using Western ideas. Quite frankly, it isnt even our place to settle their problems. It is incredible hubris to think we can impress a Western world-view on people who in no way relate to our way of thinking, or our concepts of right and wrong.
U.S. finally pulls its military out of the Middle East, the people there
will be just as they were before, culturally speaking. All that will be
left is bitterness towards us for wrongs done to them, real or perceived.
The nature of the Muslim cultures is that when one brute leaves, another
will step forward to fill the void. If the neo-cons had fully understood
what they were getting into, they either would have said, Never
mind, or they would have started with nukes and turned the Middle
East into one giant sheet of glass. Personally, I would have left the
Muslims to themselves, as they are prone to torment one another. The neo-cons
simply gave them something outside of themselves to focus their violent
Editor's Note: This man was recently set free by the government, but it remains to be seen if he can get out of the country. Minding our own business is indeed the best course, for countries as well as individuals. Too bad so few understand or accept that concept.
Published originally at EtherZone.com