“Let Freedom Reign”

In an earlier post, I discussed the plight of the man in Afghanistan facing death for converting to Christianity. Today, we have heard the official U.S. Government response to this absurdity. Our response came at a press conference held by Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. The liberators of Afghanistan from the Taliben, the promulgator of Freedom and Liberty, the up rooter of tyranny everywhere, had this to say, as reported by the BBC:

Speaking alongside Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah at a press conference in Washington, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns urged Afghanistan to respect Mr Rahman’s religious rights.

However, he did not ask for his immediate release and said he respected Afghan sovereignty.

"Our government is a great supporter of freedom of religion," Mr Burns said.

"As the Afghan constitution affords freedom of religion to all Afghan citizens, we hope very much that those rights, the right of freedom of religion, will be upheld in an Afghan court."

I am astonished that we are letting a little thing like "sovereignty" get in the way of expressing our outrage. If this is the kind of freedom we propose to bring to the world, I think we really need to get out of the invasion business. Freedom means freedom for the people of Afghanistan, not freedom for the Afghan government to persecute its citizens. Surely, we have more leverage than this with the Afghan government. I thought this kind of thinking in Afghanistan was what led them to provide safe harbor to Al Qaeda.

Then, there is the little matter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the declaration that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 to guarantee basic rights to all human beings. This declaration was adopted in clear response to the horrors of the Holocaust. Article 18 of the Declaration states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. [Emphasis added by me]

The United States, at a bare minimum, should insist upon the adherence to the UDHR in Afghanistan. Anything less should be unacceptable to us and we should say so.

As a Muslim American, I feel particular shame that this kind of ignorant justice is being pursued in Afghanistan in the name of Islam. All Muslims around the world should be at the forefront in rejecting this nonsense. Muslim Americans in particular, and all Americans in general, should lobby the U.S. Government to ensure this atrocity is not allowed to happen.

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15 Responses to “Let Freedom Reign”

  1. Lisa says:

    What came we do RIGHT NOW to help Abdul Rahman?
    Send money? Write letters? To who? And how?

  2. Mash says:

    Lisa,

    I think the best approach is to get our Government to exert its enormous leverage on the Afghan government. I would recommend writing to your congressman and both of your senators. We need to raise awareness about the issue and point out that this is the kind of freedom we must defend.

    You can also write the Afghan Embassy in Washington, DC (as a symbolic gesture only since I doubt it will have any sway with them). The contact info for the Afghan Embassy is:

    His Excellency Said T. Jawad
    Ambassador
    Embassy of Afghanistan
    2341 Wyoming Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20008

    email the embassy at: info@embassyofafghanistan.org

    call the embassy at: (202) 483-6410
    fax at: (202) 483-6488

    - Mash

  3. Pingback: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying » Afghan Persecution Finally Making Headlines

  4. Aunty Ism says:

    http://www.rawa.us/index.htm

    Sure, we protect rights and freedom. BwaahhahaHaaaahmm cough hmmmm sigh

  5. Lisa says:

    Thanks, will do tonight. This is the only website directly addressing this issue. Nothing from The 700 Club, Moral Majority, The Rainbow Coalition. Zip. Nothing.

  6. Pingback: Below The Beltway

  7. proximity1 says:

    ” The United States, at a bare minimum, should insist upon the adherence to the UDHR in Afghanistan. Anything less should be unacceptable to us and we should say so. ”

    We’re now a nation _currently_, _deliberately_, _officially_ committed to the practice of torture and OTHER WAR CRIMES, remember ?

    Who shall heed our government’s protests now–and WHY should they when, clearly, we do not respect these conventions _ourselves_ ?

    Once more, you generally recognize our government’s faults but consistently fail to appreciate how to interpret them or what they entail in practice.

    _We_ do not give any credence to the humanitarian preachings of other people’s thuggis regimes; thus, we cannot, by the same token, expect others to listen when our thugs make hypocritical pleas for the respect of human rights.

  8. Mash says:

    Proximity1 said:
    Once more, you generally recognize our government’s faults but consistently fail to appreciate how to interpret them or what they entail in practice.

    Unfortunately, I am acutely aware of the problems this Administration’s policies have created. You rightly point out that this Administration has now made torture official policy. In an Orwellian turn, they have simply renamed it “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

    However, I try to both critique and advocate a position I would like to see. I think it is an important part of criticism to try to offer meaningful alternatives. I am under no illusion that this Administration will choose to alter course or has the capacity to do so. But, I think the American people are at a critical decision point now. We must decide which path we will choose going forward, and who will lead us there. It is a time of testing for us, and I’m not ready to throw in the towel. The alternative is quite bleak.

  9. proximity1 says:

    ” However, I try to both critique
    and advocate a position I would
    like to see. ”

    Nothing wrong with that and I’d be the very last person to object to advocating a position that you see as the best to adopt.

    1) ” I think it is an important part
    of criticism to try to offer
    meaningful alternatives. ”

    2) ” I am under no illusion that this
    Administration will choose to alter
    course or has the capacity to do
    so.”

    There’s an important relationship, and not a harmonious one, I think, bewtween 1) and 2) above. It’s easy (until you correct the misimpression) to suppose that when you urge an alternative approach to that of the Bush administration, you also believe that there is some good reasont to expect that the Bush admin. might actually do so.

    To me, meaningful alternatives inherently imply that they are not merely theoretically possible in our wildest imaginations, but that they are indeed genuine practical possibilies in either the world as we now know it or as we can reasonably expect that it might become.

    To put it another way, although all of the policy positions you’re advocating are ones I, too, approve, what I wonder and would like to see from you–as the advocate of these–is simply some basic practical recommendations as to how these very worthy changes could come about either in the Bush administration or, if not there, in its actual successor.

    What, for example, is in fact practically necessary in order for the US govt to take up the defense of this man in Afghanistan? And, how does one achieve these steps–both the immediate and mediate ones ?

    ” But, I think the American
    people are at a critical decision
    point now. We must decide which path
    we will choose going forward, and who
    will lead us there. It is a time of
    testing for us, and I’m not ready to
    throw in the towel. The alternative
    is quite bleak. ”

    I agree very much with the foregoing, too. That is precisely why for me it’s not good enough to urge policies and procedures which simply won’t fly in the current circumstances. What I believe we really need instead–and just because I agree that,

    “the American
    people are at a critical decision
    point now. We must decide which path
    we will choose going forward, and who
    will lead us there. It is a time of
    testing for us, and I’m not ready to
    throw in the towel. The alternative
    is quite bleak.”
    is to carefully and methodically point up not just what would be positive change, but how and why that change has been opposed, thwarted, or simply too little grasped and recognized by the kinds and the numbers of Americans who must grasp and understand it if there is to be any movement toward improvement.

    To offer a couple of examples: in posts above, I tried pointing out examples of where very committed Bush supporters have failed and are continuining to fail to appreciate just how very seriously Bush has undermined the democratic institutions of the nation; and that this damage is just as much a threat and a danger to conservatives, including many, though not all, Bush supporters themselves.

    It’s that lack of insight that permits too many to continue in the belief that our only or best course is to continue to support Bush no matter what he may do. To my great and grateful surprise, there was even a response from a former Bush supporter who admitted that he’d seen how his previous expectations of Bush had proven mistaken.

    We need more and better understanding of how that happens and what leads people to see now what before they could not, though so many others saw perfectly well.

    It’s not difficult at all to state what we’re doing wrong and what the better course would be; what we need, on the other hand, is some useful insights into how we actually achieve these better alternatives.

    I’m no more ready to “throw in the towel” than you are.

    And, yes, I agree the situation seems bleak; now we must get others who do not already recognize it to recognize that –and in a way that encourages them rather than discourages them.

    For me, pointing out what Bush should do but what he shall not do is less than terribly useful.

    I’m try again to make this point–as I didn’t do a very good job previously.

  10. proximity1 says:

    correction, rather than “circumstances” I meant, as you wrote,

    “the alternative is quite bleak.”

    Agreed. More and more people shall, whether they like it or not, be forced to recognize that fact. That, in a nutshell, is the stupid and defeatist point-of-view of the leading Democrats in Congress and it’s a disgrace to say the least.

    We cannot afford to go right to or over the brink simply so that more people shall understand how serious are matters. It’s incumbent on us not only to explain what is going wrong and why, not only what must be changed and why, BUT ALSO to grasp how and why Bush has been able to enjoy so much success for so long before his disastrous policies came crashing down in a way obvious to practically everyone–though still not to everyone–now.

    This is what still isn’t being done; it could be helped along via blogs and chat rooms since the task involved is very, very large and there is no reason to expect much help from the mainstream mass news media.

    P.

  11. Mash says:

    proximity1, your points are well taken. The problem of course if that this Administration, at least from what we know publicly, does not heed or consider any advice that contradicts their dogma. Most such advice has been cast aside in favor of absolutist positions. Unfortunately the world is not so black and white. The trouble with meaningful roadmaps to stabilize the ship of state is that as the hole we are digging is getting deeper and deeper, the policy options are getting narrower and narrower. Iraq and Afghanistan are two obvious examples. I found it interesting that the President yesterday suggested that it was up to the next President to get the troops out of Iraq. Very convenient way of walking away from the heavy lifting.

    I have not yet posted a broad discussion of the Iraq or Afghanistan conflict on this web site. It is something that I plan to do fairly shortly. My posts so far have been spurred mostly by events of the day. Stay tuned and I look forward to your continued feedback.

    - Mash

  12. Pingback: Think Progress » Bush Ignored Concerns About Afghan Constitution, Praised It For Protecting “Freedom of Religion”

  13. proximity1 says:

    RE post 11 above,

    Now, there,

    ” have not yet posted a broad discussion of the Iraq or Afghanistan conflict on this web site. It is something that I plan to do fairly shortly. My posts so far have been spurred mostly by events of the day…. ”

    you are really on to something; I look forward to those posts, for in looking closely at what we’re doing in (and to) Iraq and Afghanistan and, moreover,
    the assumptions, the things widely taken for granted by the public, press and corporate/politico class which inform our policies there–not to mention domestically– we open ourselves to insights which may help us better see in more general terms why we are again repeating disastrous errors of the 60s, 70s and 80s still fresh in the minds of many.

    If we focus mainly or exclusively on the events of the day without regard for how these events are part of a larger picture (though not a ‘predetermined or inevitable course) which presents certain recurring and revealing features, then we not apt to see very much into the larger process of things going on.

    You can count on my reading and responding to such a discussion. It’s the one I believe is most needed.

    P.

  14. Dr. Lisa says:

    Mash,

    Ok. Semi-victory as massive letter writing, phone calling campaign has resulted in Abdul Rahman’s pending freedom.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060326/ap_on_re_as/afghan_christian_convert_41;_ylt=AvV.JazNVoWyXkyZ_X2qi8fOVooA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCU

    NOW WHAT? Muslim extremists, who have demanded death for Rahman as an apostate for rejecting Islam, warned the decision would touch off protests across this religiously conservative country. Some clerics previously vowed to incite Afghans to KILL Rahman if he was let go.

    Who do we put pressure on now to make sure his release is protected and measures are taken for his safety.

    I hate it when people email to PLEASE ADVISE but sometimes that phrase is warranted.

    Lisa

  15. Mash says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I have been thinking about your comments and posted my thoughts here. We have considerable sway over Hamid Karzai. So, ultimately, our Government can push major reform. So, the people to lobby in the long term is our leaders. In the short term, it is very likely that Germany, at the forefront of this from the start, will fly him out to Germany. If he is left in Afghanistan, he will be killed. So, if all goes well, I think we can expect that he will be safely taken out of the country. I worry about the next case, and because of that, we need real change in Afghanistan.

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