The embarrassment in Afghanistan

The recent debacle surrounding the arrest and threat of death penalty for
the man in Afganistan who converted from Islam to Christianity
is nothing less than an embarrassment for the nations involved in the deposing of the Taliban government. While this embarrassment is more easily explainable in terms of the Afghan invasion being a more direct response to 9/11 and thus there was less time for planning a post-war Afghanistan, it does raise some questions on how such things are handled. George Bush wanted to set up Afghanistan and Iraq as shining democratic examples, but seemed to forget that a democracy is more than just allowing elections. And its not that there was a lack of experience with how to establish a democracy in a conquered nation, as it was done in both West-Germany and Japan after World War 2.

I googled a bit and I found this section from the Potsdam declaration, which was the document setting the terms for Japanse surrender.

We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

After the war the allied forces put clear directions of the writing of the new constitution. In Afghanistan it seems that apart from demanding a system based on elections there wasn’t any such guidance given. And it seems just as little guidance has been given in Iraq.

I am not sure how its been possible to screw up so completely twice in a row, but I guess part of the problem was ‘selling’ the wars as freeing the peoples of said nations. I guess that when you come in as a liberator as opposed to a conquerer its harder to impose your rules on the freed. Nontheless I am sure that the US government had a lot of negotiation options with the northern alliance before the Afghan invasion and maybe that would have been a good time to demand that a post-war constitution that was based on the same values and principles as was demanded of Japan, as shown above. Instead we got Taliban-light .

9 thoughts on “The embarrassment in Afghanistan

  1. Apparently the Afghan consitution guarantees freedom of religion. That’s just well hidden under a superficial media frenzy of wild speculation based on uncertain facts.

  2. The Afghani constitution codifies the universal declaration for human rights. However, the Muslim law is in direct conflict with that statement.

    In a country with demographics like Afghanistan, democratic ideals or no, the Islamic law politically trumps.

    This isn’t so different than what frequently happens in some Western nations wrt. Christian morals.

  3. Nicely said by both you and Murray and Scott.

    Apart from Bush and war sellers, this shows the limits of Muslim world and that freedom of religion is only in (western) theory. This doesn’t mean war on muslisms or bushism. This means EU and rest know the limits of the muslim population you have in you, and stop thinking they can be adopted because your ideas are superior.

    Islam now is what Christian Crusades were HUNDRED years ago.

  4. “Islam now is what Christian Crusades were HUNDRED years ago.”

    Try THOUSAND years ago.

    I don’t really see this as an embarrasment to USA or the West in general. Had they (USA and others) started making demands as to what kind of laws and constitution there should be in Afganistan, people would complain and accuse them of imperialism. And now that they didn’t do that people (most likely the same people that would have accused USA and others of imperialism) are complaining again. Only ones who are embarrassed by this, is Afganistan and Muslims around the world. The only problem is that they do not feel embarrassed.

    Yes, Afganistan has “freedom of religion”. But fact is that they still have laws against apostacy (converting from Islam in to something else).

  5. Possibly my comment above has been willfully misunderstood. He’s not going to be executed, because there’s just enough law to stop it. It’s already been dismissed. But that’s not as interesting as an “Islam says kill” story, particularly when people are so ready to believe it.

  6. Well, Islam DOES tell them to kill. The clergy in Afganistan think that he should be killed, the people in Afganistan think that he should be killed. Several countries around the world stated that he should NOT be killed. But Muslim-countries did NOT say anything. NONE of the Muslim-countries stated that he should not be killed. USA, Germany, Austria, Australia, UK etc. all said that he should not be killed. None of the muslim-countries did so. Why?

    Go read wikipedias entry on this case. It containts (among others) this:

    “Ahmad Shah Zai, a prominent mujahideen leader and head of the Hizb-i-Iqtadar-i-Islami Afghanistan, and former acting prime minister in the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani before the Taliban came to power in 1996, said, “Regardless of the court decision [whether or not he is hanged], there is unanimous agreement by all religious scholars from the north to the south, the east to the west of Afghanistan, that Abdul Rahman should be executed.”

    “Muslim cleric Abdul Raoulf, a member of Afghanistan’s main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, stated “Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die.” Raoulf, who is described by the AP as “moderate”, is quoted as saying: “Cut off his head!” and “We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there’s nothing left.”

    “Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, said “If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can too,” he said. “We must set an example. … He must be hanged.”

    There are more such comments there. The ones which basically have people saying “Islam is a religion of love and tolerance. But we are still going to kill him” are especially funny/sad.

    Wikipedia says this when it comes to apostacy:

    “The question of the penalties imposed in Islam (i.e. under shariah law) for apostasy is a highly controversial topic that is passionately debated by various scholars. On this basis, according to some scholars, if a Muslim consciously and without coercion declares their rejection of Islam and does not change their mind after the time given to him/her by a judge for research, then the penalty for male apostates is the death penalty, or, for women, life imprisonment. However, this view has been rejected by some modern Muslim scholars (eg Hasan al-Turabi), who argues that the hadith in question should be taken to apply only to political betrayal of the Muslim community, rather than to apostasy in general[5]. These scholars argue for the freedom to convert to and from Islam without legal penalty, and consider the aforementioned Hadith quote as insufficient confirmation of harsh punishment; they regard apostasy as a serious crime, but undeserving of the death penalty. However, in Iran, apostasy is a capital crime according to Amnesty International.”

    I think that Islam has some “issues” it needs to work out. First we had the controversy over the Mohammad-cartoons, and now this. SOmething is rotten in the state of Islam.

  7. No, those are some people saying that Islam says they should kill. It doesn’t mean that Islam should kill, or that all Muslims are killers, anymore than when Christian extremists say that the Bible orders Christians to kill. It’s making a generalisation about a group of people by pointing at individuals.

    And the Mohammed cartoons were an incitement to religious hatred for saying much the same thing.

  8. ” …its not that there was a lack of experience with how to establish a democracy in a conquered nation, as it was done in both West-Germany and Japan after World War 2″

    Well, of course, failure didn’t stop them from a re-do… World War II largely came about because attempts to put democracy (the Weimar Republic) in place after World War I failed in the early 1930s.

  9. “No, those are some people saying that Islam says they should kill.”

    And the people who demand that they (apostists, cartoonists, you name it) should be killed, always seem to be muslims. Even Mohammad said that “he who changes his religion should be killed”.

    Yes, there are Christian extremeists demanding all kinds of things. But those are few and far between. When Danish newspaper published those cartoons, we had widespread demonstrations in the mid-east and elsewhere and embassies were burned. Could you SERIOUSLY see Christians doing something like that over a bunch of cartoons? Seriously? Could you imagine Christians storming the streets in Rome (for example) because some newspaper in mid-east made fun of the Pope? I sure as hell can’t. Occasionally we have few crackpot Christians making fool out of themselves (Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, I’m looking at you!), but when we talk about Muslims, we have huge mobs of people making fool of themselves.

    “It’s making a generalisation about a group of people by pointing at individuals.”

    When there are enough of those “individuals”, I think it’s safe to make generalisations from them. And we DID have this guy being dragged to a court because he rejected Islam. I think it’s very safe to draw conclusions about Afganistan because of that. And I think that we can draw conclusions from the fact that not a single muslim country voiced their support for him.

    We have had huge demonstrations over a bunch of cartoons. We have entire nation demanding that one man should be killed over his choice of religion. We have had no muslim country voice their opposition to killing him. We have had state-issued death-threats against individuals in the past (Salman Rushdie). When CAN we start drawing our conclusions? When does this stop being about “few individuals”?

    “And the Mohammed cartoons were an incitement to religious hatred for saying much the same thing.”

    No they weren’t. You obviously missed the point of the cartoons. Their point was to see that will western democracies and people resort to self-cencorship over things like this. Their point was to test what is and isn’t allowed in the name of “political correctness”. And they were a phenomenal succees.

    The reaction they caused in the muslim-community indicated to me that there seems to be very little room for “mere believers” in Islam. Even the “regural muslims” would be labeled as “fundies” in Christianity. If some Christian prayed five times a day and limited his diet because Bible told him so, he would be called a fundie. But that seems to be the norm in Islam. There is very little room for mere believers in Islam. And the fact that they (muslim world) reacted so strongly and violently to the cartoons underlines that point.

    Note: I’m not a Christian.

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