I do hope you are aware that a death sentence has been given to Youcef Nadarkhani. His hideous crime is that he was born to Muslim parents and so has been sentenced to death by hanging in Iran for refusing to recant and convert back to Islam.
This is an affront to universal moral values.
At one time all nations agreed to never do this. In 1948, most of the world’s nations (including Iran) signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including article 18, “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” which includes, crucially, the “freedom to change his religion or belief“.
Yet today we live in a world where many Muslim-majority nations make conversion away from Islam illegal, and several – including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Sudan – impose the death penalty on those who disbelieve.
Their decision to execute Nadarkhani is truly abhorrent to all, and is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but Iran’s own constitution. Article 23 is crystal clear: “The investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”
All pleas have fallen on deaf ears in Tehran, but beyond that there is a truly deafening silence from the world’s Muslims – especially the UK’s vocal self-appointed “community leaders” – this is shameful and is a judgment upon themselves. When chatting to ordinary Muslims (and I do), I’ve not yet found any who think that death is appropriate for anybody who abandons his faith, yet few are willing to speak out.
This illustrates why secular morality is far superior to religious morality. Ethics written in a holy book are hammered into stone, are deemed to be from god, and so may not be challenged … ever. The Qur’an itself does not prescribe any earthly punishment for apostasy (leaving Islam), but the Hadiths do, so according to the four mainstream schools of Islamic law (sharia), its punishment is execution.
Examples of Sunni Hadiths that sanction the death penalty for apostasy include passages in the Sahih al-Bukhari include Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:17, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:260, Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:84:57, Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:84:58 and Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:89:271.
The two most popular Hadiths usually cited by orthodox Islamic clerics to support the death penalty for apostates are:
“Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:17
“Whoever changed his (Islamic) religion, then kill him” Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:84:57
In stark contrast to such barbaric ideas, secular ethics are open to criticism, reasoned argument and logic, and so can be changed. Examples abound; we no longer tolerate slavery or racism (even if religious texts do still endorse such abhorrent notions), and now we are also moving away from the anti-gay rhetoric that is still common among most beliefs. Yet sadly, where religious belief prevails, primitive and truly barbaric concepts still dominate.
Quite clearly the decision to execute Nadarkhani is a clear example of how Islamic belief desperately strives to control minds and hearts by deploying fear. The unacceptable cost is the loss of individual freedom. It also speaks very loudly about just how insecure Islam truly is, and is so frail that it cannot handle any rejection at all.
So please … Speak out and protest about the truly unjust and morally repugnant death sentence that has been given to Youcef Nadarkhani for the crime of not believing Islamic superstitious nonsense.