Monday, September 04, 2006

Convert or Die? Decisions, decisions!

Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig, the two journalists who converted have caused many bloggers to raise the issue - is it preferable to stay alive, but putatively Islamic? One man, on RealClearPolitics, disagrees:
They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the propaganda broadcasts to guarantee their own safety. That much we can understand, as conventional cowardice. (Understand; not forgive.) But it is obvious from their later statements that they never thought twice; that they could see nothing wrong in serving the enemy, so long as it meant they'd be safe.

I assume they are not Christians (few journalists are), but had they ever been instructed in that faith, they might have grasped that conversion to Islam means denial of Christ, and that is something many millions of Christians (few of them intellectuals) have refused to do, even at the cost of excruciating deaths. Christianity still lives, because of such martyrs. Not suicide bombers: but truly defenceless martyrs.
For the above-quoted writer, David Warren, it's a question of what a man can do, and still remain a man.

I found a link to his post on the Captain's Quarters blog. The Captain is firmly on the side of saying whatever is necessary to escape with one's life. His is the familiar refrain, "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day". The Captain writes:
Warren wants kidnapped hostages to die for Christianity and the West rather than jolly along their kidnappers to gain their own freedom. That may be a splendid sentiment, but it results in dead Westerners rather than dead Islamists, and I fail to see how that represents any kind of victory. One of the reasons why Western culture is superior to that of radical Islam -- and I say superior deliberately -- is that we value individual human life. Dying needlessly and purposelessly for the West doesn't gain us any converts in this conflict.
I have to respectfully disagree - to refuse to forswear Christ, and risk near-certain death, is not a foolhardy and fruitless action. It is the essence of what we're fighting for.

Mind, I'm not saying that I would be brave enough to put this to the test. But, every day, in the Muslim world, there are those who have the courage to put their faith on the line. Abdul Rahman, of Afghanistan, comes to mind. That's the fellow who last spring was arrested for apostasy, the capital crime of converting away from Islam. Despite being on trial, and facing likely death, Abdul resisted all entreaties from Muslims to forsake the Christian religion.

The Christian Monitor has more stories of Christians being persecuted. Folks, it's not just old stories in the New Testament, Christian persecution is happening TODAY.

In the Netherlands, the former Muslim Member of Parliament Ayan Hirsi Ali had to go into hiding after renouncing her faith on television.

Another former Muslim who has experienced threats is:
The most high-profile British Islamic apostate is Ibn Warraq, a Pakistani-born intellectual and former teacher from London, who renounced his faith after the Salman Rushdie issue and laid out his reasons in the book "Why I am not a Muslim."

Warraq recently edited the book "Leaving Islam," but finds it hard to explain the hostility exhibited by Islamics, the Times Online reported. "It's very strange. Even the most liberal Muslim can become incredibly fierce if you criticise Islam or, horror of horrors, leave it."

Warraq uses a pseudonym, and lives incognito in mainland Europe. He thinks that Islamic apostasy is common. "In Western societies, it is probably 10-15 per cent. It's very difficult to tell, because people don't admit it."

Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of the Barnabas Fund (www.barnabasfund.org), which helps persecuted Christians around the world, told the Times Online that the organization is finding an increased workload in Britain: "It's a growing problem. Today, conversion is seen as linked to Bush trying to convert the world — democratization is confused with evangelism.

"The difficulty in Britain is the growing alienation between the minority Muslim communities and the mainstream Christian one. Christian mission work in inner cities is seen as an assault," Sookhdeo said. "We are only asking that freedom of religion should be applicable to everyone of every faith."
In the West, we understand the concept of falsely acquiescing, then renouncing one's words after release. Many prisoners have done it; few would hold them to their word. For example, in common law, a contract that is agreed to under fear of death is invalid.

Not so in the Islamic world - however you are "persuaded" to agree to conversion, it's a done deal. Once converted, you may not change back. To do so is to deserve death as an apostate.

Does anyone remember the play "The Crucible"? In it, all John Proctor has to do is to sign his name on a piece of paper - falsely. He refuses, and is led out to die. The play is a hallowed relic of liberal philosophy. Stand for the truth, and you shall live, even though you die.

Some things are worth risking death for.

How come, in our culture, we have no trouble watching people risk their necks on a variety of physical tasks, yet are horrified at the possibility that someone might risk death for a principle? Which is more worthy - the possibility of winning a "challenge" and some money, or saving one's soul and self-respect?

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