Thursday, March 30, 2006

Islam and religious persecution

Christian convert Abdul Rahman may have escaped a death sentence by going to Italy, but other Christians in Afghanistan are now being harassed and jailed.

Angry mobs now are calling for the killing of Christians. The barbarians are on the March, looking for blood to spill.

Harassment, death threats and the actual killing of people who leave Islam is hardly anything new. There are many other cases, like that of Gaser Mohammed Mahmoud in Egypt, who has been declared insane and locked up in a mental hospital for converting to Christianity. As bad as his situation is, Egypt is not the worst offender. He's lucky he's still alive.

I've been reading about executions in Iran lately. There was one case, in 1983, where an entire community of members of the Bahá'í Faith were ordered to convert to Islam, or be hanged. The Bahá'í religion was founded in Teheran, and was persecuted from the begining. When the Ayatolla Theocrates took over Iran in 1979, they began large-scale persecution of non-Islamic religious faiths.

Here are some photos of 10 Bahá'í women who refused to convert to Islam, and were hanged:

Here are some details of the execution of these women, from the webpage Women and the death penalty in modern Iran:

The “crime” of these women was to believe in the Bahá'í religion instead of Islam, and to believe in the equality of men and women. These were considered to be very dangerous concepts by the Revolutionary regime who had them arrested and tortured in an effort to persuade them to convert into Islam. Several of them were subjected to the "bastinado" - beating on the soles of their feet. They were all given the opportunity to avoid execution by recanting their faith and converting to Islam but none of them chose to.

On the night of June the 18th 1983 they were driven in a bus to a polo field on the outskirts of Shiraz where a gallows had been set up. The bus driver who took them there reported that they seemed to be in good spirits, singing on the way and prepared to meet their fate.

The youngest prisoner was Mona Mahmudnizhad, who was just 17 years old. Her father had been hanged some months earlier for his beliefs. At the execution ground she asked to be hanged last so that she could pray for all the other women. Reportedly she kissed the noose and recited a prayer before she was suspended.

The other nine members of the group were :

23 year old Roya Ishraqi, a promising veterinary student, was executed with her 50 year old mother, Izzad Janami Ishraqi.

20 year old Akhtar Sabit, a graduate nurse, who had taught children’s religious classes.

28 year old Mahshid Nirumand was a physics graduate from the University of Shiraz. She is said to have remained resolute in prison and to have shared her food with the others and encouraged them to remain firm.

Shirin Dalvand who was 25 years old and held a degree in sociology from the University of Shiraz. Shirin was an expert in the Baha'i faith. Under interrogation she was asked whether she would ever give up her religion - she told her questioner that she would hold to her faith " Until my death, I hope that the divine mercy will enable me to remain firm to the last breath of my life ".

Tahirih Siyavushi was a 32 year old nurse, who had been a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Shiraz. Her husband, Jamshid, had been hanged two days earlier. As a nurse Tahirih helped to look after the other prisoners.

20 year old Simin Sabiri, who had been a member of the Committee of Studies Baha' ies of Shiraz.

Zarrin Muqimi was 28 years old and also very knowledgeable about her faith defending it vigorously under interrogation.

The oldest of the ten was 54 year old Mrs Nosrat Yalda' I who had belonged to the Spiritual Local Assembly of Shiraz and whose house was regarded as the "nerve centre" of the Community life Baha'i in Shiraz. She had been viciously whipped during her time in prison and her wounds were still visible after her hanging. Both her husband and her son, Bahram had also been executed.

The town’s people of Shiraz groups brought flowers to the mortuary to honour the bravery of these women, despite the dangers of such a protest. The Bahá'í religion is still considered dangerous by the regime and is suppressed.

The only way a totalitarian Religion can survive, is the same way a totalitarian government does; by killing dissenters.

I agree with George Bush that we need allies in the Muslim world in the WOT, but they also need to be genuine. Too often Muslim countries agree to things that they later fail to follow through on... things like honoring freedom of religion. They do it to recieve foreign aid, knowing there will be no tangable consequences when they fail to honor those agreements, and just continue in the pathological barbarism they have perpetuated for centuries. This has to stop.

Related links:

More Christians Arrested in Afghanistan

The Persecution of Christians in Iran

Iran's Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of the Bahá'í Community


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