The trial of the Christian convert is disconcerting on a number of levels.
First, I know it’s a bit rhetorical, but this shouldn’t be the sort of freedom we’re fighting for there. In fact, this isn’t freedom at all. Islamic countries may choose to implement strict behavior, but to mandate what a man believes, under the penalty of death, is tyranny under state management.
Second, if this is the sort of mainstream, reformed Islam to which we’re looking forward under the Bush administration’s new Wilsonianism, I’m not enthused. CAIR’s (the American Islam PR effort) claims that “Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience” are quite unconvincing.
Third, isn’t it disheartening that our warm weather allies in the war on terror are more vociferous on condemning the trial than our own State Department, whose spokesman called for the trial to be conducting with fairness and transparency. What does that mean? Kill him, as long as there’s open, due process? It just shows how much work Ms. Rice still has to do over there — or isn’t doing.
Fourth, President Bush yesterday stepped up the rhetoric and said he is “deeply troubled” by the case and that “‘That’s not the universal application of the values that I talked about’ while in Kabul.” Great. So what are you going to do about besides light nudging? Calling for his release would be a decent first step.
Fifth, how much can the administration really do? We’ve agreed to look away from human rights abuses in these moderate countries as we pursue the really, really bad guys. Can we risk alienating Afghanistan? Probably not.
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