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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid

Published on Oct 20, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Islamic Religious and Gender Apartheid

The Murder of a Christian Woman in Kabul


When a woman friend of mine recently called to tell me that she had been offered a well paid position in Afghanistan I told her not to go. When she insisted, I said: "Alright then, you'd better get a gun, learn how to use it, and get psychologically prepared to shoot yourself in case you are captured but not instantly killed." She was shocked, shocked. And so I continued: "But you might be easily disarmed. Better have a dentist implant a cyanide tablet, (or something more merciful), in your teeth so that you can opt out of the repeated rapes or the video-ed be-heading." Now, she was silent and listening carefully. I continued. "You may not be held for ransom, so if you absolutely must go, I would request that your do-gooder work be carried out entirely within an American Army base–but please understand, they, too, have been successfully attacked."

I, who once traveled everywhere, including to Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Uzbeck Republic, would not dream of going to these countries again. Not in these savage times. My long-time dreams of visiting Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, etc., have been permanently put on hold. I will visit these places in books and paintings and in friendships with those who have either chosen exile over tyranny or who can visit me here.

These places are too dangerous to visit and increasingly, too dangerous to live in. For example, just this morning, the Taliban murdered a beautiful, 34 year-old woman, Gayle Williams, in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was a British aid worker, a pure soul, who had come to work with disabled Afghans. She was not a Christian missionary. Williams's organization, "Serve Afghanistan," is careful not to proselytize–doing so is against the law. However, her Christianity probably motivated her to take on this dangerous and selfless work. The Taliban-on-motorbikes gunned her down this morning, shooting her seven-eight times.

She was killed because she was a Christian, a woman, and a foreigner and because she actually wanted to help. Unlike most Afghan dignitaries, she was not corrupt, she was not expecting any "bribe" money for doing her good work on earth.

No proselytizing in Afghanistan? The same is true in every other Muslim nation. There is something wrong with a "religion" that does not allow its followers to leave to embrace another religion–or no religion at all. It kills such apostates and it kills those who would dare offer them another approach to God.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by the very wonderful Rabbi Joe Potasnik and Deacon Kevin McCormick on WABC'S longest running show, "Religion on the Line." We talked about Islam's history of imperialism and about the imperialist nature of jihad. This point is important enough to repeat again and again not only because it is true but also because so many western intellectuals believe that the West has been the only imperial power–a crime for which we must now atone.

But we also talked about the current Islamification of Europe and America and about the persecution of infidels in the Muslim world. Muslims, mainly radically reactionary Muslims, demand more and more visible, separatist, religious freedom in the West but Muslim countries absolutely refuse to allow "infidels" to practice their religions in the East. Thus, the Muslim Middle East is now completely "judenrein," (free of Jews), except for tiny Israel which remains under perpetual and existential siege. Muslims in the Middle East always persecuted, taxed, jailed and murdered its Arab Jewish citizens but when Israel became a state, the Middle Eastern and North African Muslim nation states brutally exiled its Arab Jews who sought–and received– asylum in Israel, Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia. This story, by the way, is the biggest story of refugees in the Middle East. See my friend Pierre Rehov's excellent film, "The Silent Exodus," which poignantly portrays this long, forced march. Back in the day when Pierre could not find network distribution, I once mounted some of his films on my website; the films drew enormous traffic.

But, this is not only a Jewish story.

Historically, Muslims also persecuted all "infidel" inhabitants (Zoroastrians, Baha'i, Hindus), and of course, its large Christian populations which preceded Islam in these regions. Islam continues to persecute Christians today. Christians are being forcibly converted; young Christian girls are being kidnapped, and then forced to convert and marry Muslim men. Churches are being destroyed, foreigners (diplomats, business people, students) who visit the Muslim world are cautioned to practice their religion indoors and to refrain from displaying any religious insignia. Recently, in Egypt, a mob stormed a Christian holy site and beat and murdered a number of monks and priests.

Will the new American President take a stand against Islamic religious apartheid, and demand reciprocity in terms of religion? If mosques can be built all over Europe and the United States, will Saudi Arabia allow a church to be built in the Kingdom? Will other Muslim countries, beginning with Egypt do likewise? Our government has got to deal with this issue vigorously and seriously but our professors also have to tell the truth about Islam, namely, that it is not tolerant but is, instead, murderous towards other religions.


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