by Rob Schwarzwalder
December 4, 2013
Mark Fromager is “director of Aid to the Church in Need in France, one of 17 national offices of an international Catholic charity that provides assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries”
In a well-argued analysis, he makes a powerful, even undeniable, case that Islamic persecution of Christian converts is widespread and violent and, therefore, immoral. He writes:
… throughout the Middle East, notable individuals are converting to Christianity from Islam, but their stories, for obvious reasons, are seldom told. They actually face dramatic consequences and even death if they were to talk about their conversion. In Africa, to the consternation of some Muslim leaders, millions of Muslims are becoming Christians each year. In Europe, we tend to think only in terms of Christians becoming Muslims, but there is a strong movement in reverse as well. That is a story that does not make the headlines.
He cites some specific examples:
In the Middle East, there is no risk in converting from Christianity to Islam but the contrary is quite close to committing suicide, as apostasy is not allowed in Islam. It is punishable by death. One Iraqi man I know survived prison and an assassination attempt; he had to flee his country and is now living in France.
Fromager notes that his piece is not “an anti-Muslim screed, but an appeal for justice, for freedom, for a respect for human rights.” Well said. For Americans, this particularly noteworthy since our charter text, the Declaration of Independence, affirms that our liberties are “unalienable” gifts of God, not whimsical grants of the state.
The author offers practical suggestions about what Western governments can do to advance religious liberty in the Islamic world. Yet their implementation is another matter, both in Europe and the United States.
The Obama Administration has yet to replace motivational speaker Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who resigned her post recently (“[She] will not be missed because her tenure was so unremarkable,” said religious liberty champion Ann Buwalda. Dr. Tom Farr of Georgetown University commented, “the administration does not see international religious freedom policy as a priority.” So, whether or not these and other good ideas for advancing religious liberty internationally through American diplomacy is even on the table of policy options is open to serious question.