But she was wearing a short skirt . . .

rahmanAbdul Rahman, the Christian man who was in danger of being executed under Afghan’s Islamic laws, was released and flown to Italy. The cabinet of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi granted his asylum plea in an expedited process. And just in the nick of time, as the BBC reports:

Suggestions he might be offered asylum have outraged politicians in Afghanistan.

The issue was discussed in the Afghan parliament on Wednesday, with almost all MPs in agreement that “his leaving Afghanistan must be prohibited”, the AFP news agency reported.

Dr Assadullah Hymatyar, an MP from Logar province, told the BBC that parliament was planning to investigate the events that led to Mr Rahman’s release.

Time‘s Rachel Morarjee, writing from Kabul, had a bizarre piece alleging that Rahman was a deadbeat, abusive dad who shamed his family. The title of the piece, by the way, is — and I am not joking — “Abdul Rahman’s Family Values“:

Rahman, 40, has become the poster boy for the Christian right and for religious freedom. Closer up, however, the picture painted by the local police who arrested him shows a candidate not quite ready for family values. Rather, a portrait emerges of a deadbeat dad with psychological problems who couldn’t hold down a job, abused his daughters and parents and didn’t pay child support.

First, what is this “poster boy for the Christian right” business? Does the Christian left not care about Rahman’s fate? Or, if it does, does it get to be camped in the religious freedom camp? Why, then, does the Christian right get its own nonreligious freedom category?

Second, for all we know, these scandalous accusations against Rahman could be true. For all we know, for that matter, Rahman could have tortured small animals, robbed dying widows and taunted disabled children. But last time I checked, Rahman was not facing a death sentence for being unemployed, etc. He was facing a death sentence for converting from Islam. Printing the allegations, which have nothing to do with the international outrage his plight has caused, is about as appropriate as printing the sexual history of a rape victim.

No one was arguing that Rahman should live because he was a good person. Instead, people were arguing that Rahman should not be killed for converting from Islam. While more information about Rahman is needed and desirable, I’m not sure statements from the police reports that led to his life-threatening situation are the best character witnesses. What’s more, the reporter never speaks with anyone who may find the police statements questionable. She also never speaks with anyone who thinks the allegations are irrelevant to the Muslim apostasy problem. It bears repeating that this issue is not going away just because the Italian government provided Rahman with sanctuary.

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  • andy chamberlain

    Maybe this is why you guys at Get Religion are doing such an important job – you must challenge this sort of thing; it’s an example of why I get steamed up about the way stories are presented by media folk. I can imagine writers and editors sat around a news room trying to think up a new angle on this story as we move from “innocent man could be murdered” to the character assassination phase (a common journo trick) especially where people of any faith are involved. If the guy lived in the UK (and I suppose the US) the media would have sniffed out every family member, work colleague, neighbour, and lover to try to find something to give this story a bit more life.

    Meantime the real issues get missed (again). In a previous post Maryam said:

    “The problem with both the Lawal and Abdul Rahman cases, as I see it, is that there has not been a genuine indigenous evolution in the practice of interpreting shari`a law since colonisation.”

    No. I can not comment about the ‘Lawal’ case because I don’t know it. The problem with the Abdul Rahman case is that a man is being punished because he changed his faith, and that punishment would most likely have been death had it not been for the intervention of outsiders.

    The story needs to move from the particulars of the person to the principles involved. A person who leaves Islam is likely to be murdered because Islam sees this as a fitting punishment for the apostate. If anyone thinks that is wrong, then they think Islam is wrong. If anyone views this treatment of this man as barbaric then Islam is barbaric. Moderate people from within Islam who wish to reinterpret, for example, the Hadith on this matter can only do so by distancing themselves from the very fabric of the faith they profess.

    The West has made a moral judgement about Islam in this instance, and has found it to be morally wrong in it’s treatment of Rahman. It is Islam that has been on trial here, not the man himself.

  • http://www.clarifyexpert.com David Fawcett

    Rahman was turned in by his ex-father-in-law. There was a court hearing for custody of the children in Rahman’s recent divorce. Under Islamic law, the non-Moslem always loses custody. ISTM that the rest of the family knew, but weren’t too bothered, as long as there was no fuss. But the ex-wife’s father let the cat out of the bag…

  • Matt

    I realise that the reporter was is a British subject but it would be interesting to know why the United States which have a very large influence (and no small number of troops) in Afghanistan did not offer assylum.

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  • Stephen A.

    What!? Time Magazine did a hit piece on the man’s “so-called” family values and the Religious Right?

    SHHhhhh!! Quiet! There’s no such thing as the Religious Left – especially in the Unbiased Mainstream Media! Stop exposing these people.

    And of course, the Left *never* gets a say in these sorts of stories (they will undoubtedly complain.)

    Perhaps it’s because the reporters are so good at advocating their positions FOR them.

  • http://www.blackphi.co.uk/webitorial.php Phil Blackburn

    Is it usual ‘Time’ practice to base a story on just a single, apparently unverified, source? This is a seriously weird article!

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  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I will unquestionably be flamed for daring to say this, but, face it: for decades, at least, the Religious (and irreligious) Left has been dismissing any concern for the freedom of Christians abroad as part of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy. Recall the chorus of “liberal” oppposition to setting up a religious freedom unit in the State Department or declaring an executive pro-religious-freedom policy. Either this was “obviously” part of the machinations of the Religious Right (TM); or it was unethical or hypocritical or something for Christians to be concerned “only” about fellow Christians. Teh people saying this, if they ever bothered to think things through, seem to be saying that there is an ethical principle requiring people to never complain about treatment of their own co-religionists because they should be able to count on someone else to do it if there is a “real” issue… although they never talk about who we can count on to do it if we dont, and although, as I have noted before, nobody criticized Jewish groups for not publicizing the plight of Christians (or Moslems, or Buddhists, or Bahais, or “animists”) behind the Iron Curtain.
    The usual run of *private* comments I hear from “liberals” around me and in the cybersphere is more simplistic: A) There is NO persecution of Christians ANYWHERE (“since Nero” was one nonsensical assertion), and b) besides, we deserve it. (And I say in advance to anyone who denies this, “I did not see you there.”)

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  • http://n/a Greg

    So exactly what does this piece have to do with short skirts? Facinating nevertheless keep up the good work!

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    By equating it with the notion that a woman was “asking” to be raped because of her “immodest” attire.