If I can remember, I'll try to make this a weekly feature, so that all my stories on Islam are put together, rather than heaved scattershot.
First, a comment allowed to go unchallenged on an NPR story posits that honour killings are something that all cultures could produce. A young Pakistani woman who lived in Atlanta was killed by her father, who felt obliged to act for the shame she brought on his family.
Sandeela Kanwal was the 25-year-old daughter of Chaudry Rashid. [Detective Mike] Christian says when police arrived at the house, they found the 57-year-old pizza shop owner sitting cross-legged in his driveway, smoking a cigarette. "They talked to him and asked him what was going on," says Christian, "and he said, 'My daughter's dead.' They asked him again what he'd said and he said, 'My daughter's dead.'"
Police found Kanwal dead on the floor of her bedroom, still in her Wal-Mart uniform. She'd been working the late shift that night. As they surveyed the scene, police tried to piece together what had happened. Rashid was taken into custody and questioned.
"He admitted to actually taking the life of his daughter," says Sgt. Stefan Schindler, a 13-year veteran of the Clayton County Police Department. "And the reason he took his daughter's life," says Schindler, "by his own words was that she wasn't being true to her religion or to her husband."
But there is no room for reproach, evidently:
Similarly, another woman, surprisingly, cannot see the forest for the trees -- even while on the run from her husband.
Pearce insists she never had an affair, but was framed by her former lover so he could win custody of their sons. Under Dubai law the husband of convicted adulterers decides when they should go to jail.
Pearce, who converted to Islam, met El-Labban, a well-off company executive, in Oman and married him in the Seychelles in September 1999. They moved to Dubai but their marriage eventually broke down.
She said: "The Koran says that heaven is at the feet of the mother. I am Muslim - there should be nothing in this world that takes children from their mother. This is not about religion, or culture. It is about his revenge - and how he has abused the system to get it. My husband could get this case stopped tomorrow but he won"t because he wants me locked up... This is barbaric: this country has been my life for the last 13 years and I have loved and respected and honoured every part of it."
Well, evidently heaven is not at her feet, despite how she personally has interpreted her new faith. The law of Dubai is firmly based on Shari'a, which is what the husband is relying to put her in jail. Surely, there is vindictiveness as well, but the court supports his revenge, and not her motherhood. That's what's wrong with Shari'a.
Speaking of Shari'a, its application in Iran has led to a new wave of arrests of Christians who are held without bail, without charges, and seemingly without hope:
Arrests and pressure on Christians from authorities have ramped up even further in the past few months, the source said, adding that the reasons were unclear. Another source, however, said the arrests are part of a concerted, nationwide government plan.
“We are quite sure that these arrests are part of a bigger operation from the government,” the source said. “Maybe up to 50 people were arrested. In Tehran alone already some 10 people were arrested – all on the same day, January 21.”
Sources noted that whereas past waves of intense harassment and arrests of Christians eventually have subsided, recent pressure has been “continuously high,” with reports of arrests in almost every month of 2008.
“In the past there have been waves of incredible pressure, but then it seemed to calm down a bit sometimes,” said one source. “Then we had the feeling pressure came and went, but now it is continuously ongoing.”...
The arrests are particularly disturbing in light of the Iranian parliament’s approval last September of a new penal code calling for a mandatory death sentence for “apostates,” or those who leave Islam. In the past death sentences for apostasy were issued only under judicial interpretations of sharia (Islamic law).
In Bangladesh, a more "vigilante" strain of justice is allowed to run unchecked. In Pakistan, insult is added to injury because of the particular hatred for Christians. This heinous attack was specifically to "to violate their faith," but the act is more redolent of "Insult Islamic-style" because they imagined that girl was "ruined." Actually, according to their Christian faith, she remains a child of God (essential dignity intact). (Perhaps they thought that the parents would be obliged to kill her afterwards; little do they understand Christianity.)
And I know you won't forget to pray for dear Martha. Still no word, though I've scoured the web.
UPDATE: Heavens! An alert just surfaced indicating that Martha Samuel Makkar has been granted bail on Sat (Jan 24th). There is no word of the status of her sons, who were being starved to pressure her to recant her faith. She left after an encounter with a snake who hissed menacingly in her ear:
Attorney Nadia Tawfiq said Judge Abdelaa Hashem questioned Makkar extensively about her Christian faith during the hearing. Makkar explained her reasons for conversion, avowing her Christian faith and repudiating the judge’s claims that converting from Islam to Christianity was impossible. “Then he said, ‘I want to talk with Martha alone,’ so we all left the room, and he said to her, ‘Nobody changes from Muslim to Christian – you are a Muslim,’” Tawfiq said. “And she said, ‘No, I am a Christian.’ He told her, ‘If I had a knife now, I would kill you.’
Her dry martyrdom is not over by a long shot. Poor dear. Her whole extended family would like to see the judge do as he promises.