Muslims Turned Christian Pay the Price
By Erick Stakelbeck, Washington Terror Analyst
WASHINGTON DC, Aug. 22, 2006 (ww.cnn.com) - Last month, CBN News brought you the story of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who was thrown in prison for converting from Islam to Christianity. He has since been released and has left Afghanistan.
But countless other ex-Muslims continue to face persecution--even here in the West.
The images have become all too familiar--Muslims marching in anger and threatening those they say have insulted Islam. The most recent trigger was cartoons of Mohammed, which sparked riots across the Muslim world. But perhaps nothing is more offensive to Muslims than apostasy, when a fellow believer abandons the faith.
“The consensus among Muslim scholars for a long time -- for 14 centuries -- was that those who leave the faith should be killed,” said terrorism expert Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.
Gartenstein-Ross has studied Islamic law extensively. He says those who convert out of Islam--especially Christians--lead a lonely and dangerous existence.
He said, “And even today, the view that apostates from Islam should not be killed -- that people should be free to convert to another religion -- is very much a minority view.”
Within the Islamic world there are at least 14 states that make it illegal to convert out of Islam. In at least eight of those states, it is punishable by death.
That list includes U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan -- where, by and large, there is no separation between mosque and state--and no rest for former Muslims.
Exhibit A: Abdul Rahman -- after his arrest for converting to Christianity, one senior Afghan cleric said he should be torn to pieces for his conversion. In light of that rage, what does the Koran say about it?
Several verses in the Koran severely condemn apostasy but fall short of calling for the death penalty.
But in the Hadith, Islam's other holy book, Mohammed said those who leave Islam should be killed. Mohammed's direct successors--the Caliphs--also said apostates should receive death.
Gartenstein-Ross said many Muslims take these verses literally and take it upon themselves to punish former Muslims-- even in the west.