Sunday, August 27, 2006

Good News / Bad News

I awoke this morning to the good news that Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, the two kidnapped American journalists had been freed, were unharmed, and preparing to return home.

Always one to find the ant at the picnic, I am troubled by one aspect of there captivity. It is contained in two terse, disjunct paragraphs in the New York Times coverage:
Earlier today, their captors delivered a video showing the two men in long Arab robes reading lines from the Koran to indicate their conversion.

Mr. Centanni said the men were forced to make videotapes decrying American policies and converting to Islam. “There were times I thought I’m dead, but now I’m not,” he said.
I am not an expert on Islam, but as I understand it, forced conversions are valid conversions. From such a viewpoint, I ask three questions:

1) Are the conversions of Mr. Centanni and Mr. Wiig considered "valid" by CAIR and other moderate Muslim groups in the United States?

2) If these conversions are invalid, will we hear condemnations of the conversions by the leading voices of moderate Islam in America, Europe, and even in the Middle East?

3) It has been shown that the imams in even "moderate" states such as Turkey and Egypt consider conversion away from Islam an offence punishable by death under sharia law. If Mr. Centanni and Mr. Wiig renounce their conversions as invalid under duress, do they fall under that death sentence?

CAIR and other Islamic organizations have claimed to be voices of moderation. Now they can show that moderation by rejecting the practice of forced conversions and refusing to sanction sharia death penalty for conversion away from Islam.

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