[Marxism] Planned execution of Afghan Christian embarrasses Washington

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Mar 25 15:31:20 MST 2006

On one level, this is another Dubai -- arousing the Muslim-haters on the
Christian Right and elsewhere in the Republican Party.  On the other
hand it involves a fundamental democratic right being violated by the
occupation government, and Islamic authorities who are probably not all
pro-government or pro-occupation. 
This highlights the importance of "secularism" not as primarily a
synonym for atheism or political hostility to organized religion but as
a principle of religious tolerance and freedom of religion, in
overcoming divisions among the oppressed and exploited.
Secularism in the United States, as was pointed out by Marx in one of
his articles on the Jewish question, has a somewhat different origin
than in the United States. Religious neutrality, and non-hostility to
religious or non-religious belief, arose in the revolutionary process in
the United States as a way of helping overcome religious divisions and
struggle for independence and bourgeois democracy. So US secularism as
expressed in the first amendment constitution was not motivated by
religious belief, but by not wanting the new bourgeois nation to be torn
by religious competition for the sponsorship of the state, and the
repression of competitors.
Of course, the fight against imperialism is the only way to push this
fight forward in Afghanistan -- or, for that matter, in the United
States where attempts are underway to deepen divisions among the masses
on a purportedly religious but ultimately political and reactionary
Fred Feldman
March 25, 2006

Preachers in Kabul Urge Execution of Convert to Christianity 


KABUL, Afghanistan
s/afghanistan/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> , March 24 — Preachers used
Friday Prayer services to call for the execution of an Afghan Muslim who
converted to Christianity, despite growing protests in the West. The
conversion of the man, Abdul Rahman, 15 years ago was brought to the
attention of the authorities as part of a child custody dispute.

The Bush administration and European governments have strongly protested
the case as a violation of religious freedom. But Mr. Rahman has drawn a
strong reaction in Afghanistan, too, and for many hardline clerics,
there is no greater offense than apostasy.

One speaker, Maulavi Habibullah, told more than a thousand clerics and
young people gathered in Kabul: "Afghanistan does not have any
obligation under international laws. The prophet says, when somebody
changes religion, he must be killed." 

He and others demanded that the country's political leaders and judges
resist international pressure.

Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, told reporters on Friday that she
had been assured by President Hamid
ai/index.html?inline=nyt-per> Karzai in a telephone call that Mr. Rahman
would not be executed, The Associated Press reported.

A senior government official said Mr. Rahman, 41, would be released from
jail soon, Agence France-Presse reported. The agency did not identify
the official, who added that there would be a top-level meeting on the
case on Saturday.

The dispute has exposed the contradictions in Afghanistan's
Constitution, which promises freedom of religion on the one hand, and on
the other declares Islam supreme.

Sheik Asif Muhsini, a Shiite cleric, emphasized that the Constitution
says, "No law can contradict Islam and the values of the Constitution." 

The case has fueled feelings here of an assault against Islam, coming
after reports of the possible desecration of the Koran in Guantánamo
Bay, Cuba, in 2004 by American soldiers and, more recently, cartoons
published in Europe that mocked the Prophet Muhammad. 

7&partner=hbtools> Upgrade Your Email - Click here! 

More information about the Marxism mailing list