Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whose God Is Being Gored

An avowed atheist pens a daring tract that calls out everything that is wrong with the religion that he was raised on. In response, he is thrown in jail, allowed no legal counsel, and threatened with life imprisonment or being burned alive. Surely the Western secularists who thrill in speaking truth to religious power are rallying to this man's side. Why at this very moment, I imagine that Bill Maher and his ilk are hatching plans to free the detained dissenter from catacombs beneath the Vatican where the Pope's sinister minions are surely holding him.

Oh, wait just a minute. As Bret Stephens explains in today's WSJ, in this case the narrative does not fit the standard "speaking truth to religious power" template :

So what is the core of the problem? Consider the predicament faced by a Palestinian named Walid Husayin from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Mr. Husayin, 26, is suspected of being the blogger known as Waleed al-Husseini and author of an essay, posted on the Proud Atheist Web site (proud-a.blogspot.com), titled "Why I Left Islam."

The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says "compete with each other in terms of stupidity." But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is "an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual's freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint."

And that's just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as "Is Islam a religion of tolerance?" Answer: "The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories." What about equality? "Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels." Women's rights? "I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way." The prophet? "A sex maniac" who "was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women." And so on.

This being the Arab world, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Husayin has spent the past 24 days in detention, that he has been forbidden from receiving visitors or speaking to a lawyer, that he faces a potential life sentence, and that people in Qalqilya have called for him to be burned alive.

Don't expect to see any of the public denunciations, protests, boycotts, or any other activity that would take place if a critic of Christianity was even verbally reprimanded--to say nothing of being jailed and threatened with death--for attacking the Church. No, for this is about Islam and the Palestinians whom the secular Left can only see as victims not oppressors. Nothing to see here.