It’s good to see that some things never change.
Before the fall of the Taliban I used to read news stories about the crazy shit they would come up with each week and shake my head and say, “Oh those crazy fundamentalists. They’re such a hoot.”
Of course, things became considerably less funny after I watched the Twin Towers dissolve about a half mile from where I stood.
The characters may have changed, but the script is still the same. This time it’s the case of a guy who prosecutors were seeking the penalty for because he converted to Christianity. A crime, in the newly liberated country of Afghanistan, punishable by death.
Wonderful thing, democracy in the Middle East (if you can call Afghanistan that).
What’s particularly farcical this time is the effort that has gone into defusing this politically embarressing trial.
First, the US and assorted Western allies start mentioning on TV that it’s “disturbing” that the country we spent so much money liberating from oppression would engage in, well, oppression.
Normally that would be the end of it, but Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, can’t just directly intervene because he’s got a bunch of radical clerics who have been told that the constitution says that Islamic law is the basis for their new legal system and Islamic law says that converts should be killed. (Nice religion by the way. Didn’t I hear from the lips of so many Muslim activists that Islam is a religion of peace? I guess it is, as long as you’re Muslim.) So these fundamentalists start announcing that if Karzai interferes they are going to call for rioting and upheaval and assorted other unpleasantness.
So, what’s the head of the asylum to do?
This is priceless. First they raise questions about the mental state of the defendant and if he is fit to stand trial. The logic being, if you convert from Islam knowing that the penalty is death, you must be crazy. Which does have some merit, I have to say…
Second, the judge throws the case out saying it has “technical problems”, and rules that the defendent does not have to be held by police while he awaits a possible retrial.
The subtext here is: “Dude, get the hell out of Dodge. Pronto.” (Of course, if he stays now, he could be seen as bolstering his future insanity defense.)
I wouldn’t be surprised however if this guy sticks around, just so he can prove how ultra-radical he is in his own way and force a showdown that will either result in him becoming a martyr for Catholicism or set a precedent for the millions of Christianity-seeking Muslims across Afghanistan.
More entertainment to come I’m sure.