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Obama's Warped Weltanschauung

One of the first things Barack Obama did after he became President was travel to Egypt to give a speech. Obama's words were supposed to bring about a new age of peace between Islam and the West. Since then we have seen a series of revolutions throughout the Islamic world. These were also supposed to usher in a new age of peace and understanding. It has not arrived.

Egypt was supposed to show us all the good things that the so-called "Arab Spring" would bring to the world. Journalists working for the mainstream media repeatedly claimed that liberty would become a guiding principle in the new Egypt, and most Western politicians were vocal supporters of the new regime. In truth, non-Muslims have been discriminated against in Egypt for years.1 And the situation in Egypt has not improved since Mubarak was ousted and the Muslim Brotherhood took charge.2

One means of exercising the power of a state is the issuing of ID cards marked with one's religion. According to the European Court of Human Rights, being required to have your religion included on a national ID card contravenes one's right to freedom of religion, which has a negative aspect in that one is not obliged to divulge one's religious beliefs.3

In Egypt the issuing of national ID cards opens the door to discrimination in different walks of life. Minority religious groups with no legitimate ID card have difficulty in finding employment, owning property, or engaging in similar aspects of everyday life which people in the West take for granted. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Christians in Egypt who have national ID cards marked with their religion are almost entirely prohibited from entering professions that are open to Muslims.4

The Egyptian state also makes it difficult for individuals to exercise their right to freedom of religion. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says clearly that everyone has the right to freedom of religion, and that this includes the freedom to have or adopt a religion of their choice.5 It has long been established that this means that everyone has the right to leave a religion. So everyone who has been brought up to think of themselves as a Muslim has the right to leave Islam.6

And yet Muhammad Tantawy, the Grand Mufti of Egypt between 1986 and 1996 and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University from 1996 until his death in 2010, reportedly stated that it was forbidden for anyone in Egypt to leave Islam.7 And Habib el-Adly, Interior Minister of Egypt between 1997 and 2011, reportedly stated in a memo to an Egyptian court that men who wish to leave Islam should be killed, women wishing to leave Islam should be beaten every three days until they change their mind, and there should be a blanket rejection in Egyptian courts of any and all individuals who wish to leave Islam and become Christians.Some might try to say that these views are extreme and are not part of mainstream public opinion in Egypt, but the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project found that 85 per cent of all Muslims living in Egypt believed that Islam had a positive influence on political life and anyone who wanted to leave Islam should be sentenced to death.9

When a young Egyptian man named Mohammad Hegazy became a Christian, he is reported to have been picked up by the police and tortured. When Hegazy filed a court case to have his religious status officially recognised, he and his solicitor are reported to have received death threats, including one from Hegazy's own father.10 An Egyptian court eventually ruled that although Egypt had ratified the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights which guarantees freedom of religion under Article 18, that did not apply in Hegazy's case because in Egypt, Article 18 is subordinate to shariah law, which forbids Muslims from exercising their right to freedom of religion.11 So Hegazy's conversion to Christianity was not recognised by the Egyptian state. He tried to leave the country, but reportedly could not get a passport, and was forced to go into hiding.12

Women also have a difficult relationship with the Egyptian state. Under shariah law as it is practiced in Egypt, Muslim men are permitted to marry Christian women, but Muslim women cannot marry Christian men.13 Egyptian women who convert to Christianity find it difficult to have the religion on their identity cards changed, which means that in the eyes of the law they are still Muslims. Since shariah law forbids Muslim women from marrying Christian men, these converts to Christianity cannot legally marry fellow believers. If Egyptian women in that situation acquire forged ID cards saying they are Christian in order to marry, they can be arrested by the police and forcibly divorced.14

Christian women and girls are also reported to have been taken from their families and coerced into saying they have accepted the doctrines of Islam.15 According to reports commissioned by Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights on the phenomenon of disappearing Christian girls in Egypt, many of these girls are befriended by Muslim women before being handed over to their abductors.16

Playing devil's advocate, one could argue that some of the young girls who have disappeared were unhappy at home and therefore were vulnerable to being groomed, but the authors of those reports argue that according to the UN literature on human trafficking, the fraud, deception and coercion employed by their abductors signifies that those young girls are victims of a crime.17 Clearly the vulnerability of a potential victim does not absolve the perpetrator of a crime of their guilt. Ilan Halimi was led to his death by an attractive young woman, but that only shows premeditation on the part of his abductors, which makes what they did even worse.18

Since 9/11, several prominent Western politicians have asserted that Islam is a religion of peace. If that assertion was true, then societies run according to shariah law would be peaceful. Instead we see human rights violated, widespread discrimination against non-Muslims, intolerance of non-Islamic values, and acts of the most appalling violence perpetrated by both state and non-state actors against religious minorities.

It didn't seem possible that the political fruit machine could ever hit the jackpot and spit out someone worse than Tony Blair, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Gordon Brown but there he is, alive and walking the earth: Barack Obama, a man who believed that if he went to Cairo and uttered some fancy words, he could rewrite history and bring peace and freedom to the Islamic world.

Gone are the days when we had among us men like Winston Churchill, who told his countrymen that the Nazis were a rising, evil power that would have to be dealt with, whether they wanted to hear that or not. To paraphrase Churchill's assessment of the men around him during the "gathering storm" in the 1930s, most politicians today, as then, delight in smooth sounding platitudes, refuse to face unpleasant facts, seek popularity and electoral success regardless of the true interests of the state, are divorced from reality and lack any real intellectual vigour.19 

Instead of a man like Winston Churchill, we have a community organiser from Chicago acting as leader of the free world. A man whose finest hour was a speech he made almost four years ago that had about as much connection to reality as the works of Hans Christian Andersen. Why doesn't Obama should go back to Egypt and make another speech? In fact he could stay there, and make a whole bunch of speeches. He won't need any armed guards with him either. Those nasty guns kill people don't you know.




References

1. Marshall, Gilbert & Shea, Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, page 182, page 185;
US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Freedom Report 2008, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2008/108481.htm accessed 15/04/2013;
US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Freedom Report 2009, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2009/127346.htm accessed 15/04/2013;
US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Religious Freedom Report 2010, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2010/148817.htm accessed 12/04/2013;
Rev. Majed el Shafie on behalf of One Free World International before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) (Chairman), Nov. 11 2011, quoted in el Shafie, Majed, Freedom Fighter, Destiny Image Publishers, Kindle Loc. 1948-1973.

2. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Religious Freedom Report 2011, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?dlid=192881#wrapper accessed 15/04/2013;
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, USCIRF Identifies World's Worst Religious Freedom Violators: Egypt Cited for First Time, April 28th, 2011, http://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases/3595-4282011-uscirf-identifies-worlds-worst-religious-freedom-violators-egypt-cited-for-first-time.html accessed 12/04/2013;
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2012 Annual Report, Egypt, http://www.uscirf.gov/images/2012ARChapters/egypt%202012.pdf accessed 15/04/2013;
Rev. Majed el Shafie on behalf of One Free World International before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) (Chairman), quoted in el Shafie, Majed, Freedom Fighter, Destiny Image Publishers, Kindle Loc. 1999;
Weber, K., Obama 'Missed the Point' Regarding Christian Persecution in Egypt, Says NJ Congressman, Christian Post Africa,  http://global.christianpost.com/news/obama-missed-the-point-regarding-christian-persecution-in-egypt-says-nj-congressman-62664/#rSqxpG5v5dpDVm8G.99 accessed 14/04/2013;
Written statement submitted by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, UN Human Rights Council, 22nd Session, 18th February 2013, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G13/111/05/PDF/G1311105.pdf?OpenElement accessed 19/04/2013;
Countries at the Crossroads, 2012, Egypt, Freedom House, http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/countries-crossroads/2012/egypt accessed 21/04/2013;
Powers, K., Middle East Christians Need Our Protection, USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/04/02/middle-east-christians-need-our-protection-column/2047473/ accessed 14/04/2013.

3. Freedom of Religion, Factsheet, European Court of Human Rights, February 2013, Sinan Isik v. Turkey (application no. 21924/05),  http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/80119CA2-3425-43D9-9FEB-524829C637B1/0/FICHES_Libert%C3%A9_religion_EN.pdf accessed 24/04/2013, available at: http://www.echr.coe.int/ECHR/en/Header/Press/Information+sheets/Factsheets/ accessed 24/04/2013.

4. el Shafie, Majed., Freedom Fighter, Destiny Image Publishers, Kindle Loc. 300;
Marshall, P., Gilbert, L., Shea, N., Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, p. 185;
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2012 Annual Report, Egypt, pp. 8-9, http://www.uscirf.gov/images/2012ARChapters/egypt%202012.pdf accessed 15/04/2013.

5. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, http://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20999/volume-999-I-14668-English.pdf accessed 24/04/2013, available at: http://treaties.un.org/Pages/showDetails.aspx?objid=0800000280004bf5 accessed 24/04/2013, see also: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/iccpr/iccpr.html accessed 24/04/2013.

6.Jahangir, A., Civil and Political Rights, Including The Question of Religious Intolerance, UN Commission on Human Rights, 61st Session, E/CN.4/2005/61, paragraph 47, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G05/101/50/PDF/G0510150.pdf?OpenElement accessed 24/04/2013, available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/sessions/61/lisdocs.htm accessed 24/04/2013;
Jahangir, A., Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, UN General Assembly, 60th Session, A/60/399, paragraphs 46-48, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/532/25/PDF/N0553225.pdf?OpenElement accessed 24/04/2013, available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/Annual.aspx accessed 24/04/2013;
Bielefeldt, H., Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, UN General Assembly, 67th Session, A/67/303, paragraphs 17-21, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/461/30/PDF/N1246130.pdf?OpenElement accessed 24/04/2013, available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/Annual.aspx accessed 24/04/2013.

7.  Paul Marshall, interview with Grand Sheik of Al-Anzhar, 1998, cited in Marshall, P., Gilbert, L., Shea, N., Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, p. 188.

8. http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/english/country/egypt/2007/newsarticle_4921.html/ accessed 12/04/2013.

9. http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2010/12/Pew-Global-Attitudes-Muslim-Report-FINAL-December-2-2010.pdf accessed 12/04/2013.

10. http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/english/country/egypt/2007/newsarticle_4978.html/ accessed 12/04/2013;
http://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/english/country/egypt/2007/newsarticle_4980.html/ accessed 12/04/2013;
http://www.worthynews.com/1585-egypt-court-rules-against-convert accessed 12/04/2013;
Marshall, P., Gilbert, L., Shea, N., Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, p. 191.

11. (US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Religious Freedom Report 2011, Section 2, Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom, Legal/Policy Framework, paragraph 2, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?dlid=192881#wrapper accessed 15/04/2013;
Tomuschat, C., International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/iccpr/iccpr.html accessed 16/04/2013;
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, http://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%20999/volume-999-I-14668-English.pdf accessed 16/04/2013.

12. Marshall, P., Egypt's Identity Crisis, http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=5463 accessed 12/04/2013;
Shea, N., No President is A Pyramid, http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=6287 accessed 12/04/2013;
Marshall, P., Gilbert, L., Shea, N., Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, p. 191;
Christian family battles for legal recognition of faith, http://persecution.tv/video?task=videodirectlink&id=12 accessed 12/04/2013;
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2012 Annual Report, Egypt, p. 10, http://www.uscirf.gov/images/2012ARChapters/egypt%202012.pdf accessed 15/04/2013.

13. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Religious Freedom Report 2011, Section 2, Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom, Legal/Policy Framework, paragraph 7, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?dlid=192881#wrapper accessed accessed 15/04/2013;
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 2012 Annual Report, Egypt, p. 9, http://www.uscirf.gov/images/2012ARChapters/egypt%202012.pdf accessed 15/04/2013;
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14. Marshall, P., Gilbert, L., Shea, N., Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, p. 189;
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, No Return: Official Obstacles to Re-converting to Christianity, http://eipr.org/en/report/2009/12/06/261/284 accessed 16/04/2013.

15. Marshall, P., Gilbert, L., Shea, N., Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, Thomas Nelson, p. 192;
Targeting Egypt's Christian Women, CBN News, http://www.cbn.com/tv/1880644956001 accessed 14/04/2013;
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Egyptian Muslim Ring Uses Sexual Coercion To Convert Christian Girls, Assyrian International News Agency, http://www.aina.org/news/20110712201559.htm accessed 14/04/2013;
Christian Teenager Abducted, Voice of The Martyrs, http://www.persecution.net/eg-2012-02-09.htm accessed 14/04/2013;
Young Teen Becomes Latest Kidnapping Victim, Voice of The Martyrs, http://www.persecution.net/eg-2012-11-29.htm accessed 14/04/2013;
Clark, M., Ghlay, N., The Disappearance, Forced Conversions and Forced Marriages of Coptic Christian Women in Egypt, Report commissioned by Christian Solidarity International and Coptic Foundation for Human Rights, http://csi-int.org/pdfs/csi_coptic_report.pdf accessed 15/03/2013;
Clark, M., Ghlay, N., Tell My Mother I Miss Her, Report commissioned by Christian Solidarity International, http://csi-usa.org/TellMyMotherIMissHer.pdf accessed 15/04/2013;
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16. Clark, M., Testimony at Helsinki Commission Hearing, 22nd July 2011, Section 3, http://chrissmith.house.gov/uploadedfiles/copt_hearing_clark.pdf accessed 15/03/2013;
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17.Clark, M., Ghlay, N., The Disappearance, Forced Conversions and Forced Marriages of Coptic Christian Women in Egypt, Report commissioned by Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights, Section III.2, http://csi-int.org/pdfs/csi_coptic_report.pdf accessed 15/03/2013;
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18.Smith, C., Torture and Death of Jew Deepens Fears in France, p. 2, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/international/europe/05france.html accessed 15/04/2013;
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19. Churchill, W., The Gathering Storm, Mariner Books, p. 80.


1 Comments - Share Yours!:

Anonymous said...

Never a truer sentiment expressed about the usurper-in-chief. Max.