Sunday, March 26, 2006

For Christians and Women, Should We Pull out of Afghanistan?

In the midst of Canadians questioning whether we should be in Afghanistan, a family ratted out one of their own to Afghan authorities as having converted to Christianity 16 years ago, a crime punishable by death. The Trial Judge told the BBC that "the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him."

At the same time this was happening, in Bible Study our Pastor asked us if Al Quaeda was the way, referring to Jesus declaration in John 14:6 that "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." In other words, are we tolerant of all ways being the way to God? Or do we draw a line and say no, some ways are definitely not the path to God? Muslims draw that line -- their way is the only way. To convert to another way is so sinful that one must die. (Hindus also will kill family members who convert to Christianity -- I know of one such family who had to flee India and their relations after they converted.) Canadians are now starting to draw a line in the sand too. We are starting to no longer tolerate other religions by saying it's their way so who are we to judge. There is a growing chorus to leave Afghanistan if Abdul Rahman is indeed convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death, and if this belief -- that conversion ought to result in death -- is held by "mainstream Afghanistanis" as Looney Canuck wrote on Jay Currie's blog, then we ought to pull out our soldiers.

The thing is Christians are persecuted regularly all over the world, even in countries that are our allies. Furthermore, outrage to the way women are treated did not result in the same calls for pulling out. If all Afghanis believe women are chattel and Christians are infidels, then why pull out only because of the latter and not the former? Where were the calls to pull out because many villagers (men) do not want their women and girls educated? Where were the calls to pull out because women are still required to wear burquas, cannot talk to men who are not their husbands or relatives, and have no rights as human beings with their entire lives in the hands of the males? Why the outrage only now because a Christian man was to be sentenced to death? Is one man's life so valuable it calls for us to pull out, whereas millions of women's lives lived in hidden suffering are not worth that outrage?

In The Saturday Star, Raheel Raza wrote:

"During the height of the Danish cartoon controversy, Canadian media interviewed male Muslim leaders exclusively....When a Muslim woman speaks out our assumes a leadership role, she's called a militant."

The media here, especially The Star, rally round women's rights, but have you taken a gander at the make-up of their management team? Hardly diverse, and hardly equal.

Let's go back to the concept that all ways to God are not equal. A way that calls for death when someone converts to Christianity is not a way that I believe God would endorse. It is only up to Him to judge us, but that does not mean we ought to accept misogynist, sectarian hatred in the name of being tolerant of all cultures. The MSM practice misogny when they accept Islam's intolerance of women and don't go looking for Muslim women leaders for comments, as Raza pointed out. The MSM practice sectarian division when they bend over backwards accepting Islam while criticizing Christianity and turning a blind eye to all the Christians persecuted by Muslims around the world...until Rahman's case hit the fan.

The solution to ridding hatred of women and Christians in Afghanistan (and all Muslim countries) is not by pulling our soldiers out. It lies in Jesus' way as elucidated by Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'm reading Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey, a book about the question of why is he still a Christian. He writes about 13 individuals who shaped his faith. One of them is Martin Luther King, Jr. Yancey writes in graphic detail about segregated life. White-skinned Americans held such hated to dark-skinned Americans that they did unspeakable things to them and to those who were trying to secure equality and the vote for them, that I am left both horrified and puzzled. I cannot fathom such hatred. Yet that is the same kind that men express towards women in places like Afghanistan, and even here when they bring their cultural mores with them. And it is the same kind that Muslims express towards Christians when one calls "on the people to pull (Rahman) into pieces so there's nothing left."

King succeeded in changing the US so that segregation is a thing of the past, and all Americans enjoy equal rights. At the time though, in the midst of the beatings and jailings, when his way of nonviolence seemed hopeless and people called for answering violence with violence, he stayed true to Jesus' call of returning hatred with love and replied to his critics, "Well, I guess about the only thing I've desegregated so far is a few human hearts." He knew human hearts was where victory would be won: "The human heart...was his supreme battleground." One of those hearts he changed was Yancey's. (Yancey, page 36)

We will not win the ultimate victory of democracy and freedom of women, and therefore of all, in Afghanistan by pulling out. We will not win it by accepting their abysmal treatment of women in name of "well, that's their culture, and we should not interfere," as if women there do not deserve the same rights as women here by dint of their place of birth. We will not secure freedom of people to be whatever religion they choose if women are not free to live as equals. And we will never win and forever be at risk of attack again if we pull out. Al Quaeda are still trying to regroup in Afghanistan, and if they succeed they will start up their attacks over here all over again. Jesus did not say we could pick and choose our Samaritans. Afghanistan asked for our help. We can help militarily, but some of our soldiers are also there to change hearts, one at a time. King succeeded, but four decades ago, his cause looked hopeless. His leaders too got smashed in the head (like the Canadian soldier while trying to understand one village's needs) or beaten to death, but others took their place, and they continued King's way of nonviolence and won. We cannot give up.

2 comments:

Looney Canuck said...

I hear what you're saying about the persecution of Christians and women in Muslim countries, but I want to expand on the point that I made on Jay Curries blog and your blog.

I'd like to think that our troops are making a difference in Afghanistan, but I certainly do not want to force Western or Christian values down their throats. However, we should be able to express our opinion on what we believe should not be a crime much less a capital crime.

Since our troops are offering help, our presence there should allow for some give and take for the Afghan people. If they cling stubbornly to what they see as Muslim beliefs and accuse us of interfering (as indicated in the last paragraph that Currie quoted), then what good does it do for our citizens to risk their lives for them? Is there that much difference between the new regime and the Taliban? The whole point seems moot.

talk talk talk said...

Changing autocratic countries, ruled by clerics (however ignorant), to democracies is pushing Western values down their throats. More specifically, we are pushing the change down the throats of the clerics and warlords, for we are changing the balance of power from the clerics and Taliban to the people. Most people like freedom; they don't like living as slaves or oppressed, being watched all the time and beaten for the slightest transgression. The old guard don't want us to express our opinion because then the people might get ideas. It's the same old, same old "don't interfere with us" defense of people knowing they're on the way out and hanging onto power by their fingernails.

I'm not so sure it's the Afghan people who don't want the give and take. If they're hostile, it's probably because as one said in the Toronto Star report, that they've watched (US) soldiers dutifully write down what they need and then nothing happens. So they're wary of more empty promises. Canadian soldiers need to ensure their promises are not empty.

It's a cleric who's quoted in that last paragraph of Currie's. Clerics, like the white leaders who incited the people to keep segregation going in the US South (and who also resented the interference of the Northerners), hold the power for now. But, just as it took Martin Luther King, Jr. years to start the process of integration, and he was long since dead before it was completed, it is going to take years for Afhanistan to change to a freer society. Afhanis have buckets of patience. We need to learn that trait too, otherwise we'll quit too soon. Already there is one sign that the clerics' hold is breaking: Rahman has been freed.