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Whatever happened to 'no compulsion in religion'?

By Irfan Yusuf - posted Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Guess what! Some Muslims are in the news again. And as always, they are doing exactly the opposite of what their faith and values intended.

And if you thought a minority of hysterical Muslim protestors were slow (six months) in responding to the Danish cartoons, try this for size. The Afghan authorities and judiciary took a whole 16 years to work out one of their own had changed religions.

The good news is that the Muslim government involved is, at least for now, from the good side. And thankfully, they seem to be doing something to stop the clear abuse of Sharia law.


Freedom and democracy from Guantanamo to Kabul

Hardly a few weeks after the Danish cartoon saga, the pro-American government of Hamid Karzai has been caught out trying to revive the old Taliban legacy. And boy, don't the war-on-terror brigade have egg on their faces.

Even poor Australian Prime Minister John Howard has admitted he isn't very happy with the decision by the Afghan judiciary, whose judges are handpicked by Mr Karzai and his ministers, to place a man on trial for the nasty deadly crime of - wait for it - converting to Christianity.

Australia's troop presence in Afghanistan has recently been beefed up. Young Australian men and women are risking their lives to ensure that a pro-democracy and pro-freedom government can remain in power for long enough to potentially send a Christian to the gallows. Or was that the firing squad? Who knows?

Mr Howard says that when he first read about the Afghan Christian's plight, he "felt sick - literally".

But then, the Aussie PM shouldn't complain. Poor Abdul Rahman has at least been told what he is charged with. Unlike so many of the Afghan and other Guantanamo Bay inmates who have been in custody for over four years now without charge.

Australia has one remaining Guantanamo prisoner. David Hicks faces what his US Military lawyer appropriately describes as a "kangaroo court". Yet the Australian government refuses to lift a finger to assist one of their own citizens. With British PM Tony Blair visiting Australia, perhaps Mr Howard could learn some lessons from Mr Blair about how a country following the Westminster tradition of Parliamentary democracy should stand up for its citizens.


Misusing Sharia to deny custody to a father

Still, this article is not about David Hicks or Guantanamo. Nor is it about the Abu Ghraib prisoners. This is about the Afghan Government which practises the same excesses to those who claim that dropping depleted uranium on entire towns and cities is the best way to spread freedom and democracy.

And worse still, it is about people imposing barbaric punishments in the name of enforcing Islamic law.

Now before we start with the legal analysis, let's try and master the facts. With all the hysteria of much Western reporting, it is hard to know exactly what poor Abdul Rahman's background is.

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First published in Alt.Muslim on March 27, 2006.

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About the Author

Irfan Yusuf is a New South Wales-based lawyer with a practice focusing on workplace relations and commercial dispute resolution. Irfan is also a regular media commentator on a variety of social, political, human rights, media and cultural issues. Irfan Yusuf's book, Once Were Radicals: My Years As A Teenage Islamo-Fascist, was published in May 2009 by Allen & Unwin.

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