by Raymond Ibrahim
In a globalized world where debate and diplomacy predominate, there is one sure way to discern the sincerity of any particular government: see how it behaves at home, where it is in power; see especially how it treats its minorities.
Consider the government of Iran. Gearing up for the Durban III Conference, supposedly against racism, scheduled to take place in New York City this week, Tehran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad no doubt plan on complaining to the international community about Israel as in former conferences—portraying the Jewish state as “the most cruel and repressive racist regime,” a “barbaric” government that engages in “inhuman policies” against the Palestinians.
Yet what sort of government runs Iran—that is, how do Ahmadinejad and the mullahs behave on their own turf, where they are in control? One need only look to Iran’s daily domestic affairs to get a clear idea of what “barbaric,” “cruel,” and “inhuman policies” are truly like.
In the last few days alone, officials launched a Bible burning campaign, confiscating and destroying some 7,000 Bibles, many publicly burned, even as the mainstream media, which provided round-the-clock coverage on Terry Jones—one nonofficial American who destroyed one Koran—ignores the mass Bible bonfires held by a government. Likening its tiny Christian minority to the “Taliban and parasites,” the regime is also in the process of “cracking down” on Christians, who make up less than 1% of the entire population.
The West’s endless supply of apologists—the sort who think it makes them appear “sophisticated” and “enlightened” to be tolerant of anything, so long as it doesn’t directly affect them—will likely argue that the Bible is just a book. As for “cracking down” on Christians, “Who knows,” these dedicated relativists will probably argue, “maybe Iran’s beleaguered Christian minority is just as bad as the Taliban?”
Here, then, is an indefensible example of Iran’s blatant savagery—proof that it should not cast stones until it joins the concert of civilized nations. According to Compass Direct News:
A pastor in Iran found guilty of leaving Islam awaits the outcome of a judicial investigation into his spiritual background to see if he will be executed or, if possible, forced to become a Muslim… The court-ordered investigation will take place sometime this fall to determine whether Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, 34, was a Muslim as a teenager before he became a Christian at 19.
Last year the pastor was sentenced by a regional court to death by hanging for “convert[ing] to Christianity” and “encourag[ing] other Muslims to convert to Christianity.” After his lawyer argued that he “had never actually been a Muslim and therefore could not be found guilty of abandoning the religion,” the court, while continuing to uphold the death penalty, ordered an “investigation.” Yet the burden of proof is on the victim: he must “prove that from puberty (15 years) to 19 he was not Muslim”—by getting acquaintances, relatives, local elders, and Muslims to vouch for him.
However, “if it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and [he] has not repented [i.e. returned to Islam], the execution will be carried out.” Moreover, “even if the investigation releases him from the charge of apostasy, it is likely the charge of evangelizing Muslims will still carry a lengthy prison sentence, sources said.”
In other words, while imprisoning and executing people simply because they want to live according to their conscience—a most basic human right—Iran complains to the world that Israel is “barbaric,” “cruel,” and “inhuman.”
But there is no contradiction; both slandering Israel and murdering Christians are perfectly consistent. In each case, Iran seeks the destruction of the “other”—whether Christian or Jew. At home in Iran, where it is in power, it destroys its Christian minority with impunity, in front of the whole world; on the international stage, where it is currently weak, it seeks to destroy Israel by exploiting the West’s lofty language and acting “outraged.”
Worst of all, this affair does not merely expose Iran’s hypocrisy; it exposes the United Nation’s utopist foolishness. By allowing heads of the most notorious human rights abusing states, such as Iran and genocidal Sudan, to attend conferences that supposedly deal with “racism” and “human rights,” the UN actually exposes itself as a facilitator of human rights abuses.
Originally published by Hudson New York on September 21, 2011.
Raymond Ibrahim, a widely published Islam-specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.