The juxtaposition of two news events this past week caused no media ripple, but sends a chill up my own spine as I consider the implications. Receiving greater global attention was the U.N. Conference on Racism, dubbed Dublin II. The U.S. and a number of other Western nations boycotted the conference, and for ample reason. Iran and Libya's presence on the organizing committee certainly offered a clue. Not to mention the invitation of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as keynote speaker (his anti-Israel and American diatribe was vicious enough for a number of other European leaders to walk out).
At issue in the American boycott were two main obstacles in the proposed resolution. Number One, the equation of Israel's very continued existence with 'racism' (meanwhile countries like Sudan, the Congo, Somalia, etc. received no rebuke at all). Number Two, the proposal that criticism of religion should be dubbed 'hate speech' and made a crime.
Criticism of Islam, that is, since no other religion is making such demands. Meanwhile in the Muslim world, where any critical look at Islam is already a crime that can carry a death penalty, leaders proposing said restriction have no difficulty at all with hate speech against Christians and Jews (just check out their children's programming).
In the end, the boycott accomplished its purpose in the tabling of both resolutions. And since no real issues like actual dictators oppressing currently living human beings were addressed, the U.N. Conference on Racism ended as one more colossal waste of international funds. Which doesn't mean the issues have gone away. Let's not forget a certain politician in a Western democracy called Netherlands currently under 'hate speech ' indictment for just such a challenge to Islamic totalitarianism (see While We Were Sleeping, February blog archive).
Meanwhile, unmentioned by the mainline press, came the second event. Those following international news--and national security--are aware of Pakistan abdicating the Swat Valley region along Afghanistan's border to the Taliban rule under strict sharia law. The stated purpose was to pacify the Taliban so they'd leave the rest of Pakistan alone. A decision that instantly sent a chill up the spine of Pakistan's minority Christian community, where we personally have friends and acquaintances.
Under Pakistani secular law, Christians have some protection, one good carry-over from British colonial rule, though proselytizing and conversion carry stiff criminal penalties or even a Muslim neighbor accusing a Christian of disrespecting a Koran (check Voice of the Martyrs for Pakistani Christians in jail for their faith). Muslims, of course, have total freedom to proselytize and convert other faiths. But that beats Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and other U.S. allies where Christian churches cannot exist at all. Strict sharia law would strip meager remaining legal protection away.
In response to Pakistani peace overtures, the new rulers of Swat Valley and environs have already announced their intentions to extend Taliban rule throughout Pakistan. To make clear they mean it, among their first official acts was an attack on the Christian community. Below is the Asia Evangelical Alliance (AEA) report we received from the area: "Karachi - April 22, 2009: (PCP) The Talibanization of Karachi City begins with attack of armed Taliban on a Christian colony. The attack was well organized and heavy firearms were used by hundreds of Taliban to threaten unarmed Christian elders, women and children. The Taliban chalked slogans against Christianity and to accept Islam on Church walls in Taseer Town in the night of April 19, 2009, which horrified Christian residents.
On April 21, 2009, the local Christians conducted a peaceful procession in vicinity of Taseer Town to attract attention of local administration for protection of residents, but no action was taken nor police guard provided for protection of Church.
On the night of April 21, 2009, more than one hundred masked Taliban intruded in Taseer Colony and attacked Christians with guns. Fearful, Christians locked themselves in their homes. But the Taliban pulled elders out at gunpoint and dragged women by their hair in the streets. They loudly said, "You infidels have to convert to Islam or die. Why you cleaned our warnings chalked on walls of Church and home doors? How you dare to conduct a procession against Taliban?"
In a two hour long attack on Taseer Town, Taliban killed two Christians and beat dozens. The two Christians were seized for resisting the Taliban and killed in execution style before their families.
Nazir S Bhatti, President of PCC (Pakistan Christian Congress) condemned the attack and killing of Christians in Taseer Town and urged government to provide protection to Christians in Pakistan who are unarmed and peaceful citizens. But no action [has been] taken . . .
“Taliban are planning to expand Sharia law of their choice in Karachi, and the Christian colony has fallen first victim on their target.” Nazir Bhatti adds.
Pray for peace in Pakistan."
Surely I am not alone in finding it of concern that while the United States continues to arm and fund Islamic regimes and Western nations scramble to appease them, hardly a mainline voice is being raised on behalf of the Christian community's rights around the world to worship and live freely. If our children and grandchildren are to know what freedom of speech, worship, association is, we cannot continue to remain silent while such freedoms are being whittled away right under our noses.
Speaking of 'speaking out', my marketing team wouldn't be so happy if I didn't mention Publishers Weekly's review of Veiled Freedom this past week. As the premier industry review, they do not give praise lightly, so their positive coverage definitely made my week. Veiled Freedom hits bookstores June 1st, but is currently available for pre-order. REVIEW EXCERPT BELOW:
J. M. Windle—author of the political/suspense thriller CrossFire—taps into current events with her newest novel, set in Afghanistan. . . . Windle's writing sings when she compares the teachings of Isa Masih (Jesus Christ) with those of Muhammad . . . Readers will be enthralled with this penetrating look at Afghanistan and its many mysteries revealed through the lives of flawed men and women. Windle is a top-notch storyteller. Publishers Weekly, 4/20/09