Diana West

Of course, Islamic reasoning says otherwise. The deputy attorney general of Balkh Province, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, defended the Kaambakhsh blasphemy trial for being "very Islamic." In a most instructive interview with Radio Free Afghanistan, he made it clear that he considered blasphemy to be in a separate category from "inviolable" journalistic freedoms. "This was not a violation of human rights or press freedom, not a violation of rights of a journalist," he said. The defendant "violated the values of Islam," Khaliqyar continued. "He did not make a journalistic mistake; he insulted our religion. He misinterpreted the verses of the Koran and distributed this paper to others. All ulama (clerics) have condemned his act."

Off with his head, naturally.

More questions for presidential candidates, beginning with: Well? What do you say to that? After all, this wasn't some wild-eyed Taliban mullah shooting off his gun over perceived insults to Islam, but a deputy attorney general employed by the Afghan government that is supported by the United States. In other words, candidates, what is your opinion of the current policy which forges anti-jihadist alliances ultimately designed to thwart the spread of Sharia with countries that are, no matter how we want to cut it, themselves based in Sharia?

In order for the Westerner to grasp the Islamic line of thinking, as expressed by Khaliqyar, he must appreciate the difference between the Western understanding of freedom, which is rooted in the workings of the individual conscience and naturally gives rise to such institutions as a free press, and the Islamic understanding of freedom, which describes a state of divine enthrallment, even slavery, to Allah, and finds expression in the dictates of Sharia.

Heavy stuff? Not really. If the candidates could just drop the schoolyard sniping, they might have time to bone up on it before the next debate -- certainly before one of them moves into the Oval Office. Or is that too much to ask the next leader of the free world?

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).