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Forced 'conversions' Should Have Been Condemned

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(www.)"philly/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/15536020.htm"]Link[/url]

 

Posted on Sun, Sep. 17, 2006|

 

'Conversions' curiously hushed.

When two kidnapped journalists were forced to embrace Islam, many should have protested.

 

By Jonathan Last

 

On Aug. 14, Steve Centanni, a Fox News reporter, and Olaf Wiig, his cameraman, were traveling in Gaza City. A Mitsubishi stopped in front of them. A pickup truck boxed them in from behind. Four men, three of them masked, emerged from the Mitsubishi wielding pistols and Kalashnikov rifles. They put guns to the journalists' heads, pulled them out of their SUV and shoved them into the pickup's back seat. When Wiig asked where they were going, he was told: "You're going to hell."

 

Centanni and Wiig were brought to a tent where their hands were painfully bound behind them with plastic ties. They were hooded, blindfolded, and transferred to a dark garage. Whenever they tried to talk, they were butted with guns. Eventually they were transferred to a house, stripped of all possessions and given ill-fitting track suits. Wiig was told Centanni was to be executed. Then, abruptly, on Aug. 23, they were taken to the Gaza City Beach Hotel and set free.

 

You may be less familiar with the video released shortly before Centanni and Wiig were let go. Five minutes and 23 seconds long, it featured the two reading from scripts. They condemned the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Centanni said the West "should turn to the purifying power of Islam" and asked that George Bush and Tony Blair "open your minds to Islam."

 

Standard hostage fare. Less standard is when Centanni says: "My name is Steve. I'm an American. After I entered Islam, I changed my name to Khaled. I have embraced Islam and say the word Allah, and my leader is the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him." Wiig makes a similar declaration. Both had been converted. After his release, Centanni said: "We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint... . It was something we felt we had to do because they had guns."

 

There are many parts of the world where Islam has a conversion problem. Freedom House's Paul Marshall reports that non-Muslims in Sudan, Iran and Nigeria are commonly forced to choose between conversion or death. Writing in National Review Online in 2002, Julia Duin noted the horrific forced conversions in Indonesia: "Christians who refused to convert were killed; those who did convert were then separated from the families, given Muslim names, and forcibly circumcised - without anesthetic, and with dirty instruments. Scissors were used on adults... . The women underwent female genital circumcision."

 

Sharia - Islamic law based on the Koran and on practices approved by Muhammad and taken as legally binding - frowns on the notion of Muslims converting from Islam. Breakaway Muslims can face severe reprisals. The most famous case is Salman Rushdie's, but Marshall notes that Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, and the Comoros Islands all have laws that carry the death penalty for Muslim apostates. Egypt, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Nigeria, Indonesia, Somalia and Kenya either have laws with loopholes allowing the killing of apostates or rely on seldom-prosecuted vigilante groups to mete out their bloody brand of enforcement.

 

Religious conversion has an unpleasant history. People have been conquering and converting one another for as long as they've been believing. Romans told early Christians to convert or be fed to the lions; Christians had their Inquisition(s). Ibn Warraq, author of Leaving Islam, notes that Muslims had their own serious inquisition, the minha, in the eighth century.

 

But while many parts of the Muslim world still take conversion quite seriously, other major religions have largely left the issue behind. A double standard therefore exists, a gap between cultures. Imagine the furor that would - rightfully - erupt if a video emerged from Abu Ghraib showing a Muslim forced to convert at gunpoint. The Council on American-Islamic Relations did not mention the Centanni-Wiig videotape (but it did issue a call for their release soon after their abduction). When called for comment, CAIR's communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, declined to condemn the incident; instead, he said: "I don't think you can consider them 'conversions.' There's no legitimate conversion at the point of a gun." The New York Times reported on the release of Centanni and Wiig without a word about their conversions. Instead, the Times noted that the two men "were released unharmed." The assumption: The whole thing wasn't serious; the men wanted to live and said anything their captors required.

 

This attitude exists because the West has become so secularized that few people see the idea of a forced conversion as the savagery it is. In our culture, religion is seen as an expression of personal choice, not as part of a living, communal whole - a matter of self-fulfillment, not eternal and literal truth. Hey - professing to an alien faith might be unpleasant, but it's certainly not worth losing your head over.

 

We find it hard to believe that some cultures could regard religion as the most important of all issues. That's why, when we see foreign cultural conflicts from afar, we impute them not to culture or religion but to other issues. Why are they acting like that?, we wonder. Couldn't be just religion. Must be income inequality or postcolonial grievances.

 

This attitude is a mistake. You cannot effectively engage on any level - culturally, diplomatically, or militarily - if you don't understand the worldview with which you're dealing. And to some people, the question of faith is still a matter of life and death.

 

 

 

Interesting.

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PropellerAds

:D

 

Centanni and Wiig were brought to a tent where their hands were painfully bound behind them with plastic ties. They were hooded, blindfolded, and transferred to a dark garage. Whenever they tried to talk, they were butted with guns. Eventually they were transferred to a house, stripped of all possessions and given ill-fitting track suits.

 

Truly shocking! One hopes these amatuers will learn to treat their hostages with the same dignity accorded to prisoners of the US. Torture, deprivation, complete violation of all human rights... Maybe then these groups will get somewhere with their demands!

 

 

The forced conversion farce was played out for the cameras. It was spotted at the time by Thezman(who else!).

 

The announcement that the two journalists had converted to Islam as a reason for their release was only a camouflage to conceal the fact that the U.S. had agreed to the hostage-takers' demands, according to the sources cited in the article. A few days ago the Rafah crossing was reopened for a few hours daily, and the israeli forces stopped shelling residences of activists in the past few days, noted the paper's sources.

 

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.gawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showtopic=32817"]Link to thread[/url]

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And everyones moaning about a few words the Pope came out with!!

Intelligent bunch eh?

The saddest thing is that the people who kidnapped the journalists probably think they have scored some points with this, when in actual fact most educated people in the world would be laughing at their medieval tactics - trying to spread Islam by the sword? what a ridiculous notion.

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These people are retards, no one has even heard of them before. I think its a fatah ploy to try and discredit Hamas and gain some crdibility.

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Why would they need to force these journalists to convert to Islam if the converts later can easily return to christianity/their former religions after they are released? What's the point of converting people then?

 

To become a Muslim, one does not only need to believe in Allah & Muhammad by words (syahadat/testimony), but also by heart and by actions. They are all interrelated.

 

I don't know who is darn stupid here. These people who convert the journalists, or the people who just believe a story like this.

 

Wassalam,

Yasnov

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The forced conversion farce was played out for the cameras. It was spotted at the time by Thezman(who else!).

(www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_www.gawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showtopic=32817"]Link to thread[/url]

 

:D

 

I missed that thread...

Thanks for bringing it up Midnight... :D

Edited by freedslave

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I agree , it is ridiculous. But it gathers suspicion when one hears of death penalties for leavingf the faith .

 

For if the same arguments used to negate the credibility of forced conversion , they should also apply to LEAVING the FAITH .

 

....no ?

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