Report: Iran Arrests Suspected Converts to Christianity

Report: Iran Arrests Suspected Converts to

Christianity

Thursday , May 29, 2008

By Joseph Abrams

 

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Amid a growing crackdown on religious freedom, Iranian police reportedly have been rounding up people they suspect have converted to Christianity.

On May 11, police arrested eight people in the southern city of Shiraz, according to Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, a Christian organization that fights religious persecution.

Converting from Islam is a crime in Iran; converts can face jail and other penalties.

Most of those detained have been released, but at least one of them, 21-year-old Mojtaba Hussein, is still behind bars and is not cooperating with his captors, according to Moeller.

“He may not be willing to give up the names of other Muslim converts. He may not be willing to recant his faith himself,” Moeller said.

Numerous calls to Iranian government representatives in the U.S. have not been returned.

Though they are protected under the Iranian constitution, Christians are not given the same freedoms as other citizens in Iran. Christians can’t worship freely or hold public office, and they can be arrested for even speaking to Muslims about Christianity.

“Such people are persecuted, and particularly in the 1990s such converts were killed — it’s thought by government agents,” said Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.

Under the watchful eye of the Iranian government, many have been forced to worship in secret and are moving underground into what are called house churches —although some sects, such as Armenians and Syrians, have been allowed to worship in churches.

“With [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad as president, the Iranians are intensifying the religious dimension of their rule,” Marshall said. “The concern about the religious purity of the regime has become stronger in the last two or three years.”

Earlier this year, Ahmadinejad proposed a law that would impose a death sentence for any Muslim who converts to another religion. Under current laws, those charged with converting can be prosecuted and face jail time for vague crimes like “blasphemy” and “insulting Islam.”

Marshall said these restrictive policies may be creating a backlash among Muslims. “There are indications that with the deep unpopularity of the regime that people are turning away from Islam,” he said.

“Seeing Muslims converting to Christianity is directly threatening to an Islamic regime,” said Moeller.

He compared these small groups of converts to early Christians living under the yoke of the Roman Empire, who met in secret and whose beliefs were “dependent on dreams, visions, signs and wonders.”

Because Bibles are rare in Iran and teachings are not “as dependent on the Bible as Evangelical Christianity in America is,” said Moeller, there is a “real lack of scriptural foundation.”

But despite the growing pressure from the state, worshippers continue to practice, and Moeller said the house church system seems to be growing.

“We’ve got confirmed reports of groups of Muslim convert believers doubling in size in the last six months,” he said.

Horror In Hamburg

Horror In Hamburg

By Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com | 5/30/2008

A young female form lying crumpled on a sidewalk. Blood flowing from multiple stab wounds. Police cars. Ambulances. Flashing lights. Emergency personnel working frantically to save an innocent life that had barely begun.  

It is a scene that is becoming all too common in Western Europe with its growing Muslim population, as the northern German city of Hamburg experienced in May yet another horrifying honor murder of a young female.

Morsal Obeidi, barely 16, arrived in Hamburg from the war-torn country of Afghanistan when she was three, probably barely remembering her country of origin in her new homeland. The German Muslim student, who had won a prize in her multicultural school for tolerance and peaceful co-existence with others, was stabbed 20 times by her 23-year old brother, Ahmed, who ambushed her at a commuter train station.The reason for Morsal’s murder is a common one for female Muslim victims of honor killings who emigrate to the West with their families and grow up between two cultures: she was living too western a lifestyle.

 “She had a different life than the family wished,” admitted Ahmed, who assaulted his sister so severely that he wounded himself and had to be treated in hospital.

 According to one report, Ahmed’s younger sister started her teenaged rebellion when she was 14. The schoolgirl was tired of living by the rules of the family’s Afghan-Muslim culture that see the daughters confined at home and made to do housework when not at school while the sons have all the freedom they want.

 Such girls from South Asian and Muslim communities are also monitored very carefully after reaching puberty, as the male members of the family are very concerned that they remain virgins until marriage, since this involves their “honor.” One German Muslim woman wrote that the physical attributes she developed upon turning 13 filled her Turkish father with “deep worry.” This male obsession with virginity is manifested in the expression, common in these traditional cultures, that “…a man’s honor lies between a woman’s legs.”

Ahmed was most likely one of those male family members concerned about his sister’s chastity. It was reported he watched Morsal very closely and, when he was not available, he had cousins, uncles and aunts do it for him.

Morsal’s rebellion against such strict control included such normal, western behaviour for teenaged girls as wearing “uncovered hair, makeup and jeans” as well as smoking, drinking and staying out late, all of which brought her into conflict with her family. But all in all, it was reported the young schoolgirl simply wanted the same freedoms her German classmates had.

Like in many families where honor murders occur, violence was already extensive in Morsal’s. Before her death, the teenager had suffered numerous assaults at the hands of her father, Ahmed and a 13-year-old brother, who had once knocked her tooth out. An older sister is also suspected of mistreating her.

 “You dress like a tramp,” Ahmed said to his sister once before beating her up, his sense of moral superiority being somewhat misplaced, since he himself has an extensive criminal record, starting when he was 13. This ‘man of honor’ is a thief and had already knifed others in fights, once being stabbed eight times himself in an argument involving prostitutes outside a brothel.

 Such domestic violence had caused the tormented Afghan-German girl to spend nights at youth shelters. But like many immigrant teenagers from traditional cultures, with their deep sense of family which they do not want to give up overnight, she always returned home. But the final straw leading to her tragic death may have been the young girl’s staying away from home for three nights in a row.

 Sadly, Morsal’s was not the only honor murder to occur in Germany this year.

 Last March in Berlin, an 18-year old boy stabbed his grandparents to death after his German mother had separated from his Turkish father and got a new boyfriend. The murders were carried out at the behest of the father, according a newspaper report, to restore his honor. The father and son had already assaulted the grandfather and boyfriend earlier in separate instances, while the father had threatened his wife’s family many times with death, causing his spouse to flee to a women’s shelter.

 The wife’s unavailability is probably what caused her parents to be targeted as well the fact the grandmother approved of the separation (no surprise there). The son carried out the killing, since, like in other honor murders in Germany, the Muslim families often get the underage sons to do the killing because the maximum sentence for a minor for murder is only ten years, and often less.

 Like in the Berlin case, a Kurdish man from Iraq murdered his wife for leaving him, for which he received a life sentence at his trial last fall in Munich. Leaving the husband can often be a death sentence for the wife in traditional Muslim families.

 This particular killer showed no remorse whatsoever and was even smiling in the court room. Only three hours after a successful divorce court hearing in 2006, the murderer ambushed his ex-spouse on the street, stabbed her twelve times (the knife broke, stopping the assault) and then poured gasoline over her prostrate body lying on the sidewalk, burning her alive. This was all done before the eyes of their five-year-old son with the sadistic killer telling the court you can’t take children into consideration when it concerns honor.

 Also at his trial, the Kurd said he had killed his wife because she had betrayed him and that his “religion and culture” forbid that. Laughably, he also partly blamed German laws for his murderous rage. He whined that in Germany “…only women have rights. So they become stuck-up and believe they can do whatever they want.”

 The killer also admitted he first received permission from his wife’s father in Iraq to murder his daughter. When it is believed a woman has dishonoured the family, even if married, it is usually her birth family that kills her, since it was responsible for her upbringing and thus it is the one “dishonoured.”

 This ongoing clash between the religious and cultural values of Muslim societies with those of western civilization manifested themselves in two other honor murder trials in Germany.

 In Monchengladbach, a city in the Rhineland, a Turkish immigrant received a life sentence last February for shooting his wife and daughter to death on the street in 2007. Again, it was a case of a wife leaving her husband with their children after years of brutal treatment that included rapes and beatings.

 Like the Kurd in the Munich case, this criminal also showed no remorse and also murdered his wife in dramatic fashion. After she had fallen to the ground with the first shot, the ‘man of honor’ put his foot on her and fired twice more directly into her head. One female Muslim lawyer at the trial said such theatrical executions are meant to show “…that the man is doing everything to restore his honor and that he defended himself against the rebellious wife.”

 And last March in Bonn, a father was facing a life sentence for having murdered his 17-year-old daughter in 1993. The native Syrian, along with two nephews, strangled the young victim with a cord because, like Morsal Obeidi, she wanted to “live like German girls.” They later buried the body in a wood.

 The father’s undoing was that he made his other daughter witness the murder as a warning as to what would happen to her if she ever decided to determine her own life.

“If you don’t behave according to our rules, the same thing is going to happen to you,” she was told.

 Racked by guilt that made her life a living hell, the surviving sister informed the police of the honor killing 14 years later.

 Like after the Hatun Surucu honor murder in Berlin in 2005 that awoke Germany to this social horror in their midst, German politicians and authorities are again falling all over themselves after the Morsal Obeidi killing in Hamburg. They say they will examine the youth shelters’ role in failing to prevent the tragic murder (as if they are to blame), as well as nebulously promising to do more to protect women facing such danger as well as explain to them their rights.

 In reality, while these measures will help somewhat, much like a band aid, the real problem has to do with the values the murderers acquire in their countries of origin. As long as these men believe they have a cultural and religious right to control women, determine their lives (especially their sexuality), treat them like eternal minors, and even murder them when they transgress some archaic, tribal code of honor, then it appears there is not much Western countries can do after they arrive within their borders, since they despise our culture and, like the Kurd in the Munich trial, hold our laws in contempt.

 The problem is exacerbated by the fact that parts of western European cities, where Muslims form the majority of the population, are now ruled by sharia law where these anti-civilization values can grow and spread.

 But every voice, especially those of victims like Morsal, makes a difference. A spirit of change exists in every culture, including the Muslim. It is the Muslim women that have to be compulsorily educated in massive fashion if honor murders are ever to be stopped. Making Muslim womens’ visas and those of their family members’ contingent on this understanding of compulsory education would benefit enormously in this effort. No half measures. More Muslim women would determine their own lives if they were not so afraid of honor killings. And a real sense of urgency is needed to deal with this social nightmare facing these young female souls.

 But in the end, it is we Westerners who have to stand up for the life-affirming values we hold dear and change our laws substantially to reflect this. Western legal codes were written when the predatory and barbaric practice of honor murder was unknown due to the absence of these immigrant groups. This must be rectified and the new reality reflected in new laws, since the bottom line is that we cannot have women being killed at sixteen if we are to call ourselves human


Stephen Brown is a columnist for Frontpagemag.com. A scholar and former news reporter, his field of expertise is Muslim forced marriages and honor killings. Email him at alsolzh@hotmail.com.

W vs. Terror

W vs. Terror

By John Hinderaker
New York Post | 6/2/2008

IT’S an article of faith on the left that the Bush administration has done nothing that has enhanced our security – rather, its alleged blunders have only contributed to the number of jihadists who want to attack us. Empirically, however, something clearly has made us safer since 2001. Successful attacks on the United States and its interests overseas have not increased, as had been widely predicted, but instead dwindled to virtually nothing.

A steady stream of terrorist attacks on America and US interests abroad were launched from the 1980s forward. A partial history:

1988: Marine Lt.-Col. William Higgins, chief of the UN Truce Force in Lebanon, murdered by Hezbollah. Pan Am flight 103 blown up, killing 270, including a number of US military personnel.

1991: American University in Beirut bombed.

1993: Pakistani terrorist kills two agents and wounds three outside CIA headquarters. World Trade Center bombed, killing six and injuring more than 1,000.

1995: Operation Bojinka, al Qaeda’s plan to blow up 12 airliners over the Pacific, discovered. Five Americans killed in attack on US Army office in Saudi Arabia.

1996: Truck bomb at Khobar Towers kills 19 American servicemen and injures 240.

1997: Terrorists murder four American oil-company employees in Pakistan.

1998: US Embassy in Peru bombed. Simultaneous attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania kill more than 300 people and injure more than 5,000.

1999: Pilot of Egypt Air flight 990 crashes airplane into ocean, killing 100 Americans, while yelling “Allahu akbar!”

2000: Suicide boat explodes next to the USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39.

2001: Terrorists with four hijacked airplanes kill around 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The “shoe bomber” tries to blow up a transatlantic flight.

After 9/11, nearly everyone expected more such attacks to follow. Instead, the pace of successful attacks against the United States slowed – and decelerated further after the onset of the Iraq war. Here’s the record:

2002: Diplomat Laurence Foley murdered in Jordan, in an operation directed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from Iraq.

2003: Suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia kill 36 Americans.

2004: No successful attacks by terrorist groups inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2005, 2006, 2007: No successful terror attacks inside the US or against US interests abroad.

2008: So far, no successful attacks inside the US or against US interests abroad.

(The above list omits a few “lone wolves” like the DC snipers – because the issue here is organized terrorism.)

There are a number of reasons why our government’s actions after 9/11 may have made us safer:

* Depriving al Qaeda of its training grounds in Afghanistan impaired the effectiveness of that organization.

* Waterboarding three top al Qaeda leaders may have given us the information we needed to head off plots and to disable three-quarters of al Qaeda’s leadership.

* The National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on international terrorist communications may have allowed us to penetrate cells in America and to identify terrorists overseas.

* Al Qaeda’s designation of Iraq as the central front in its war against the West may have distracted terrorists from attacks on the United States.

* The gathering of al Qaeda loyalists in Iraq, where they’ve been decimated by US and Iraqi troops, may have crippled their ability to launch attacks elsewhere.

* Al Qaeda’s brutal conduct in Iraq may have destroyed its credibility in the Islamic world.

* The Bush administration’s diplomacy may have convinced other nations to take stronger actions against terrorist groups.

* Our intelligence agencies may have gotten their act together after decades of failure.

The Department of Homeland Security may not be useless, after all.

One can debate the relative importance of these and other factors. But based on the historical record, the Bush administration obviously has done something since 2001 to dramatically improve our security against terrorism. To fail to recognize this is to sow the seeds of greatly increased susceptibility to terrorist attacks in the next administration.



John Hinderaker writes for the web site Power Line.

Iran calls on Muslims to ‘erase’ Israel

Iran calls on Muslims to ‘erase’ Israel

But their nuclear program is peaceful. No worries there. Note also that Mottaki frames the conflict in strictly religious terms — Israel is on land he thinks should be ruled by Muslims, and so must be destroyed. He doesn’t seem to be one who would be mollified by the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. “Iran calls on Muslims to ‘erase’ Israel,” from AFP, June 1 (thanks to JE):

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called on the world’s Muslims today to work to “erase” Israel, in the latest verbal attack by Tehran against the Jewish state.”As the Imam Khomeini said, if each Muslim throws a bucket of water on Israel, Israel will be erased,” Mottaki told a conference in Tehran, recalling a saying by Iran’s late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sparked international outrage for his repeated attacks against Israel, which he has predicted is doomed to disappear and described as a “stinking corpse” and a “dead rat”.

His most notorious attack was in 2005 when he repeated another saying from Khomeini calling for Israel to be “wiped from the map”.

Mottaki added: “More than ever, the Zionist regime is disintegrating from within. Today, the Islamic resistance in this region has shattered the regime’s legend of invincibility.”…

But Iran, which does not recognise Israel, insists that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and aimed solely at generating energy for a growing population.

 

Thug-in-Chief says Israel will “disappear”; so will “satanic power” of the U.S.

Thug-in-Chief says Israel will “disappear”; so will “satanic power” of the U.S.

He’s not about to be outdone by Manouchehr Mottaki and his comments yesterday about “erasing” Israel. “Ahmadinejad says Israel will ‘disappear’,” from Reuters, June 2:

Iran’s president said on Monday Israel would soon disappear off the map and that the “satanic power” of the United States faced destruction, in his latest verbal attack on the Islamic Republic’s arch-foes.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was speaking at a gathering of foreign guests marking this week’s 19th anniversary of the death of Iran’s late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989, the official IRNA news agency said

“You should know that the criminal and terrorist Zionist regime which has 60 years of plundering, aggression and crimes in its file has reached the end of its work and will soon disappear off the geographical scene,” he said.

Turning to the United States, he said the era of decline and destruction of its “satanic power” had begun and added: “The bell on the countdown of the destruction of the empire of power and wealth has begun to ring.”

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