Tuesday, 11 September 2007
For ex-Christians such as myself, the idea of apostasy has never been a life-threatening issue. While fence-sitting, backsliding Christians do have a tight time struggling between the choice of dogma and free thought, Christianity, in sum, has become secularized by four centuries of the Renaissance and The Enlightenment Age: The Catholic Church, once indispensable in European politics, is now a pale shadow of its former self, expending much of its resources resolving lawsuits filed by paedophile victims against their wayward priests. When the Church isn't having its hands full with these lawsuits, its head honcho, the indomitable Darth Vader Pope pops out of his shell from time to time making next-to-useless comments against abortions, Science and other devilishly secular issues.
That cannot be said of Islam, however: Harsh, rigid religious quotes, adhered by fundamentalists and religiously indoctrinated mullahs, apply the Syariah strictly to the letter, and are not inclined to indulge in mere religious moderation.
Apostasy, a rather blameless brand labeled for people who have decided to abandon their religion, is the religious equivalent of treason, and like all monotheistic religions, Islam imposes extremely harsh penalties upon apostates:
Sura 4: 88-89 reads: "Whosoever turns back from his belief, openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard."
Cold-blooded murder is the penultimate punishment for infidels, and in the eyes of Islam, the deed of apostasy warrants the punishment. Being a Muslim is a brand that sticks for life: If you are born into a Muslim, you do not get to choose your identity. You must adhere to Islam and its tenets till your very last breath.
And that is exactly what a bunch of Muslim apostates in Holland is trying to defy, which, in my opinion, requires bucket loads of almost knightly bravery:
Sep 10 2007: Young Muslims begin dangerous fight for the right to abandon faith
by Times Online, David Charter
A group of young Muslim apostates launches a campaign today, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America, to make it easier to renounce Islam. The provocative move reflects a growing rift between traditionalists and a younger generation raised on a diet of Dutch tolerance. The Committee for Ex-Muslims promises to campaign for freedom of religion but has already upset the Islamic and political Establishments for stirring tensions among the million-strong Muslim community in the Netherlands. Ehsan Jami, the committee's founder, who rejected Islam after the attack on the twin towers in 2001, has become the most talked-about public figure in the Netherlands. He has been forced into hiding after a series of death threats and a recent attack. The threats are taken seriously after the murder in 2002 of Pim Fortuyn, an antiimmigration politician, and in 2004 of Theo Van Gogh, an antiIslam film-maker. Speaking to The Times at a secret location before the committee's launch today, the Labour Party councillor said that the movement would declare war on radical Islam. Similar organisations campaigning for reform of the religion have sprung up across Europe and representatives from Britain and Germany will join the launch in The Hague today. "Sharia schools say that they will kill the ones who leave Islam. In the West people get threatened, thrown out of their family, beaten up," Mr Jami said. "In Islam you are born Muslim. You do not even choose to be Muslim. We want that to change, so that people are free to choose who they want to be and what they want to believe in.
Apparently, rapid secularization has begun to dawn upon the next generation of Muslim youths, that theology and theocracy are viruses of both the mind and politics respectively. A commendable deed, for the threat against apostates is definitely not mere lip service.
On the anniversary of 911, I feel that it is time for us, as secular citizens, to reflect upon the disastrous consequences of religion and its devastating effect it has, both in our minds and our physical well-being. Instead of dwelling in stupid piety and joining the Bush Administration's wacky "Remembrance Prayer" bullshit, perhaps it is time for us, especially atheists, to stand up and scream in unison: "Enough is enough". No more kowtowing to fundamentalists. No more whitewashing of Islam with the"Islam is a religion of peace" bullshit and start staring into the eye of the problem: Religion is a primary source of terror and unsolicited violence.
And who better than these Dutch apostates to start the ball rolling?