4 Oct 2008

Religious toleration must end when there is a serious conflict with civil law

Laina Farhat-Holzman: Who invited Ahmadinejad to dinner?

Santa Cruz Sentinel - October 4, 2008

Being the host country for the United Nations, every year world leaders arrive that we do not like. Not long after Fidel Castro took over Cuba, he came to New York as he has many more times since and American admini-strations fumed. Soviet leader Khrushchev once angrily took off a shoe to pound it on the table. Yasser Arafat arrived dressed in military fatigues, carrying a "freedom fighter's gun" presumably unloaded and an olive branch. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela came and noted that the preceding speaker, President Bush, left an odor of sulfur behind, "the devil!" he said, crossing himself.

One of my favorite visitors is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, who has admirers among liberal dreamers of "world peace and religious tolerance," and illiberal radicals who believe that the enemy of their enemy the U.S. and Israel must be their friend. They seem unaware of the hilarious contradictions of this position. Scott Kennedy, a former mayor of Santa Cruz, and founder of the Resource Center for Nonviolence -- very selective nonviolence some say -- even managed a meeting with the Iranian president. I doubt that he raised the following issues:

• Gender Equality. Our laws promote the equal citizenship of men and women. Ahmadinejad's Islamic regime neither believes in this equality, nor hesitates to execute women accused of adultery by stoning. A current movie is making the rounds now called "The Stoning of Soraya," which provides a graphic demonstration of this practice.

• Religious Freedom and Toleration. Not only radical leftists many of whom are scornful of religion altogether but liberal idealists, including clerics, believe that "dialogue" can bring "understanding" between Islamists and themselves. These dreamers hosted a dinner for Ahmadinejad. Demonstrators massed outside, asking why Iran is pushing a measure through parliament that has a death penalty for defection from Shia Islam. Others are asking why Baha'is, a pacifist religious group, is persecuted and many executed. Still others question Iran's "tolerance" when they threaten the entire Jewish population of Israel with nuclear obliteration.

• Toleration of Homosexuality. In a campaign led by liberals, homosexuality has been recognized as probably hard-wired into some brains and not "merely choice or perversion." Public opinion has halted the horrendous legal persecution of people for something that is not just choice. Last year, when Ahmadinejad was invited to speak at Columbia University, many attendees were ready to love him enemy of their enemy until he was asked why homosexuals are executed in Iran.

"We don't have homosexuals in Iran," he said. "This is a Western problem." The auditorium erupted into hoots and laughter.

The problem, as I see it, is how does a Western democracy uphold its societal values and at the same time protect the rights of an illiberal religion. Religious toleration must end when there is a serious conflict with civil law:

• When a religion demands that its practitioners cut off hands of thieves dictated by Islamic Sharia law.

• When a religion practices polygamy and the abuse of children both found in traditional Muslim communities and among Mormon -- and other -- illegal cultists.

• When a religion practices female genital mutilation not really Muslim, but African practitioners say it is.

• When a religion promotes beating wives and children and executing defectors. In the West, one may convert in or out of a religion without harm, and this must be sustained by law.

• When a religion or immigrant culture demands the murder of female members "honor killings" accused of immodesty or disobedience.

Canada and the U.K. have been teetering on the brink of permitting their Muslim communities to opt out of secular law for Sharia law, a disaster for females. More wisely, Germany, after a rash of "honor killings," is prosecuting the offenders. France will no longer permit African migrants to take young daughters back to Africa to be sexually mutilated. The U.S. has been firm so far, but our hard-won freedoms demand eternal vigilance. Religious tolerance must never be one hand clapping.

Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author. Contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net

This article was found at:


No comments:

Post a Comment