Undeniably, it was an incendiary insult to a religion professed by almost a fourth of the world's people for Jones to do what he did. But what does this murderous reaction to a book-burning tell us about the people for whose right of self-determination Americans are fighting and dying in Afghanistan?
Candidly, it affirms what we already knew.
Many Afghans believe beheading or stoning is the right response to an insult to Islam. And not only that. Five years ago, Abdul Rahman, an Afghan convert to Christianity, faced the death penalty for apostasy and was forced to flee his own country.
In some Muslim countries, death is the prescribed punishment for Muslims who convert, for Christians who seek converts and for any who insult Islam, like that Danish cartoonist who sketched a caricature of the Prophet with a fused bomb for a turban.
Stoning is also seen as proper punishment for women who commit adultery.
In Pakistan recently, the governor of Punjab and the Cabinet minister for religious minorities, both Catholics, were assassinated. Why? Both had opposed a law under which a Christian woman had been sentenced to death after some farmhands accused her of blasphemy.
The governor was murdered by his own bodyguard, who was then hailed by 500 religious scholars who urged all Muslims to boycott the governor's funeral ceremony, as he had gotten what he deserved.
In the last two years, Christians have been burned alive by Muslims in Gorja, Pakistan, and by Hindu extremists in Orissa, India. Christian churches have been torched and scores of the faithful massacred on holy days in Iraq and Egypt. Few of these atrocities have received the media attention of the Rev. Jones' stupid stunt or the Danish cartoonist's irreverent scribbles.
Before America sends more of her sons to die for the freedom of Arabs and Muslims, perhaps we ought to have a better idea of what these folks intend to do with that freedom. For across that Muslim world, the faith that created our world, Christianity, is being persecuted and in some sectors annihilated.
To neocons and liberal interventionists, the goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to use our wealth and power to advance freedom until the whole world is democratic. Only then can we be secure.
But if democracy means rule by the people, ought we not to inquire a little more closely what it is these people, down deep, really want, before we bleed and bankrupt ourselves to win it for them?
Maybe Hosni Mubarak had a point.
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