March 25, 2006
"The Quran is very clear and the words of our prophet are very clear. There can only be one outcome: death."
So said cleric Khoja Ahmad Sediqi, a member of the Supreme Court in Afghanistan, speaking about the case against Abdul Rahman, who converted from Islam to Christianity. What is the specific text that is supposedly so clear? And where is the vigorous debate from people who know the Quran and have other interpretations? We keep hearing about how the charge of apostasy offends Western religious freedom values and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which the Afghan constitution adopts), but why are we not also hearing questioning of the asserted interpretation of the Quran? Why is this controversy allowed to appear to be only a conflict between Western values and Islam? In American law, if a jurist insisted a constitutional clause was very clear, and we didn't like his answer, we'd look at the clause for ourselves and debate about it.