The story of Rifqa Bary, who recently escaped from her father in Ohio for fears of being killed after converting from Islam to Christianity (which would be in accordance with Shariah law), has raised important issues about the Muslim world and has drawn attention to how the Muslim world deals with apostates.
Under normal circumstances, the lives of apostates in the Muslim world are threatened, and they are usually subject to humiliation and disrespect from their society. For example, the following innocent people and thinkers were either killed or received death threats in accordance with the Redda law, which prescribes the killing of apostates: The Egyptian thinker Farag Fouda, who was declared an apostate by al-Azhar scholar Mohammed al-Ghazali and shot to death in his office on June 8, 1992, by two Islamic fundamentalists. Sudanese reformer Mahmoud Taha was killed on the government’s authority on Jan. 18, 1985. Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz was attacked and seriously injured by a young Muslim radical on Oct. 16, 1994. Salman Rushdie, the author of “The Satanic Verses”, was declared an apostate, and a fatw? requiring his execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Feb. 14 1989. On Monday, Sept. 14, the upper house of Afghanistan’s parliament has condemned the release of Afghan journalist Perwiz Kambakhsh,1 who was originally sentenced to death for the crime of apostasy. Under pressure from much of the rest of the world, his sentence has been commuted to 20 years imprisonment.
On the contrary, President Barack Obama — who is also considered an “apostate” according to Shariah law, as he was born to a Muslim father — is highly respected in the Muslim world. The king of Saudi Arabia gave him a medallion of honor when he visited the country; Muslim women who wear the Hijab wanted to have pictures taken2 with him, and Arab and Muslim tribes have been competing to prove that Obama originally belongs to them.3 In other words, the so-called “apostates” can receive the highest level of honor and respect from Muslim communities, but only if they are deemed “powerful”!
The only difference between these two kinds of apostates is that the president of the United States is seen in the Muslim world as the president of the most powerful country on earth, a country that could eradicate the Muslim world if it wanted to. If the Muslim world truly stands for its professed principles, we would have seen a single standard used in dealing with both cases. If Obama were not the president of the most powerful country on earth, a sword, rather than a medallion of honor, would probably have been put over his neck, as prescribed by the “peaceful” Shariah law.
(1) Metro News, “Afghan parliament condemns journalist release,”
Monday, Sept. 14. Accessible online here.
(2) Ben Smith, “Muslims barred from picture at Obama Event,” Politico, June 18, 2008. Accessible online here.
(3) Jerusalem Post, Israeli Beduins claim link to Obama, Nov. 13, 2008. Accessible online here.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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