Tunisia: Convert from Islam to Christianity slaughtered by radicals

June 22, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Tunisia, June 08, 2012: Video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being slaughtered by Muslim radicals has been shown on Egyptian TV in an alarming depiction of the threat posed to religious freedom after the Arab Spring.

The graphic incident, which is reported to have taken place in Tunisia, was aired on a programme called EgyptToday. The footage shows a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. One man chants a number of Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity. The man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat begins to cut amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”). It takes him two minutes to sever the head.

The Egypt Today presenter was visibly distressed by the scenes. Then, referring to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, who together hold the majority of seats in the country’s parliament, he asked, “How are such people supposed to govern?”

The footage of this brutal beheading is the latest alarming indication of the violent threat to religious freedom in the post-Arab Spring order. That movement, which was initially heralded as a victory for democracy and freedom, has been hijacked by radical Islamists for whom those values are meaningless.

Radical Islamists, who were restrained under the deposed Arab dictators, now dominate the political arena, and their influence is spreading through Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Kuwait and Syria.

Religious freedom in the region is under severe threat, and Christians, especially converts from Islam, are extremely vulnerable.

Last month, a leading figure in Egypt’s Salafi movement, Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami, said:

Is it the right of the Muslim to convert to Christianity or another religion? Of course this is not a right; this is a matter that Sharia has clearly addressed, according to the agreed upon hadiths. It is impermissible, for any reason, for a Muslim to leave the community. Of course, you cannot coerce any infidel to enter into Islam [Quran 2:256] – except for the apostate. It is impossible to let the apostate remain in [a state of] apostasy, deeming it a form of “freedom.”

The “agreed upon hadiths” to which Burhami refers include the following command regarding apostasy: “Whoever leaves his religion, kill him.”

The Kuwaiti parliament passed a bill on 3 May that would make insulting key Islamic figures and the Quran punishable by death. But it required the approval of Kuwait’s ruler, Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, before becoming law, and he rejected the bill on Wednesday (6 June).

Barnabas Campaigns

Barnabas Fund has been campaigning for many years for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law, which specifies the death sentence for an adult male Muslim who chooses to leave Islam.

The latest campaign, Proclaim Freedom, aims to press governments to be active in promoting human rights – especially religious freedom – for all minorities in other countries.

This is not merely a professional matter for Barnabas Fund’s International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo; it is extremely personal. As a convert from Islam to Christianity himself, he is, according to Islamic law, deserving of the death penalty for his decision to follow Christ.

Dr Sookhdeo said:

To be beheaded for your faith in this day and age is utterly abhorrent. I will not rest from campaigning against this barbaric law, and call upon people of every faith and none to play whatever part they can to defend religious freedom, including the freedom to choose your faith, which is one of the cornerstones of a civilised society.

– barnabas team

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