Religious intolerance

Mahmoud Abbas cannot have it both ways – either he champions religious freedom or he does not.

Pope Francis with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem May 25, 2014. (photo credit: screenshot)
Pope Francis with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem May 25, 2014.
(photo credit: screenshot)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas likes to pose as Christianity’s protector. According to his oft-repeated assertions, the Jews of Israel endanger both Christianity and Islam, which are united in the need to ward off said threat.
He elaborated upon this lie during Pope Francis’s visit to Bethlehem, beneath a huge nativity scene that showed baby Jesus swaddled in a Fatah keffiyeh, bereft of any Jewish connections but bogusly connected to Islam.
The pope saw fit not to comment on any of Abbas’s insolent distortions. But Abbas’s duplicity is underscored by his deafening silence on the Meriam Ibrahim case.
She was sentenced in Khartoum to be flogged for adultery and to hang for apostasy. News of this Islamic persecution of a Christian appeared not to have reached Ramallah.
But Abbas cannot have it both ways – either he champions religious freedom or he does not.
Much as another outrage by despot Omar al-Bashir’s Sudanese theocracy is unsurprising, we should be appalled by the equanimity with which it was greeted in the entire Arab world – not just in Abbas’s bailiwick.
The failure by Christianity’s self-declared defender to so much as utter a single syllable of protest against Ibrahim’s torment under an Islamic regime gives the lie to all of the PA leader’s seemingly pious pontifications.
Bashir is a wanted war criminal for the genocide he instigated in Darfur (about which Abbas and the Arab world had also kept conveniently mum).
Ibrahim was arrested last August, along with her son Martin, now 20 months old. Her second child, a daughter, was born in prison last week, with Ibrahim bound and shackled during labor.
Her crime is refusing to renounce Christianity and refusing to “return to Islam.” She is accused of having betrayed Islam by converting to Christianity, this despite the fact that she was raised an Orthodox Christian by her mother and barely knew her absentee Muslim father.
Having wed biochemist Daniel Wani, a Christian (and a wheelchair-bound muscular dystrophy sufferer), Ibrahim incurred more wrath. The Sudanese authorities would not recognize the marriage. The court decreed that Ibrahim’s relations with her husband were unlawful and amounted to adultery, for which it sentenced her to 100 lashes (which themselves could kill).
These are to be administered before hanging.
Yet despite her misfortune, Ibrahim still has a chance.
She is good-looking, personable, well-educated (a doctor) and, most of all, her husband is a naturalized American.
Her distress raised enough of a ruckus internationally to elicit mixed signals from the Sudanese government, some of which suggested that Ibrahim might be released. This, however, is unsubstantiated and doubted by the family.
We have no way of knowing how many less literate Sudanese, with fewer influential foreign links, suffer similar travails. Nobody hears of them.
Meriam Ibrahim’s nightmare is only one of many unthinkable tragedies produced by intolerance in the Arab/Muslim world. The barbarity meted out to her is not unusual under Muslim rule, although citizens of liberal democracies such as Israel tend to assume that fanatic bigotry is universally scorned and has no place in today’s world. We see religious freedom as an elementary human right.
Yet this is not how the enemies of our forward-thinking values see things. Moreover, all too many of them learn from the West’s multiculturalism how to exploit Western credulity for the most anti-multicultural ends.
And thus Abbas adopts the guise of a magnanimous guardian of Christianity against Jewish predations, in perversion of the most basic truths of the past and the present.
The democracies of the world are well aware of Israel’s progressive record and enlightened system of beliefs.
Nonetheless, because of ancient bias and latter-day realpolitik and political correctness, no democracy challenges Abbas’s lies or comes to the Jewish state’s defense.