Sunday, November 22, 2015

Obama Declares Muslim-Majority Malaysia an Example of Tolerance: In 6 out of 13 States, Apostasy From Islam is Punishable by Jail, Flogging or Death

"As-salamu alaykum. I wish Michelle would wear one of those."

Two days ago, speaking in the capital of Kuala Lumpur, President Barack Hussain Obama said:
Malaysia, like Indonesia, is a Muslim-majority country that represents tolerance and peace and as a consequence, its voice is critical in the debates taking place internationally around terrorism especially to fight ISIS.
Here's some background:

Malaysia is a federation composed of thirteen states and three territories. Each state has partial, though not complete judicial autonomy. And to a great extent differences between states breakdown along ethnic and religious lines. The majority (60%) of the country is Muslim with most of the remainder Buddhist, Hindu and Christian.

Malaysia is arguably the most moderate and even tolerant majority-Muslim country in the worldtolerance here defined as a combination of social mores and government laws. In many ways, it's a lovely place, with a vibrant culture and economy to a large extent driven by the non-Muslim Chinese in the south.

In much of the country, multiple religions do live relatively peaceably side by side, and Christians are given a fair amount of room (especially compared with other Muslim countries) to practice their faith. 

If I had to live in a majority-Muslim country, it would probably be Malaysia.

But unfortunately that sort of proves a point about contemporary Islam. Even in this most livable of majority Muslim countries, approximately half the states with more than half of the population have laws making it illegal to leave the Muslim religion (leaving another religion for Islam is fine and encouraged) with punishments on the books that include caning, prison and even death. The national government has the right to review extreme cases, and I'm not aware of any actual recent death sentences for apostasy. But the practice of forcibly confining apostates to "rehabilitation" centers is often used.

Malaysia is tolerant if compared to, say, Saudi Arabia, but measured against any Christian or liberal secular standard, it is a tyranny, at least where religion is concerned.

And also where sexuality is concernedmeasured against the Western liberal standard. In Malaysia, the leader of the political opposition has been arrested three times on the charge of sodomy and has served four years in prison. He currently resides there.

Let me repeat that: the leader of the Malaysian political opposition is currently in jail for allegedly committing a homosexual act.

I have no idea whether or not the politican in question, Anwar Ibrahim is actually gay. He does have a wife and six kids, which is a higher total than 99% of the heterosexual couples that I know. His supporters claim that the accusations are false and that the accusations are largely political. Since he happens to be the leader of the political opposition, this is of course plausible. 
Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country that represents tolerance.
Obama criticizes American citizens for being against gay marriage but apparently thinks it is just peachy when Muslim countries imprison gays (or alleged gays)especially if they are political rivals. Oh, he doesn't? Then why didn't he say it?

Obama is in favor of religious freedom unless it's for Muslim countries. Then he thinks beheading apostates is peachy. He doesn't? Then why didn't he say it?

And don't claim it's a matter of diplomacy. Ask Kenya.

We all know that Obama is a Muslim sympathizer and collaborator (he's not a Muslim himself but a collaborator with the agenda of Islam). And so, by now, we expect him to praise all things Islam and to follow a double-standard.

But in fairness, many others in the West are guilty of holding Islam to low standards. Converting from Islam is illegal in only 6 of 13 states? Punishable by death in only two? Eureka! Muslim tolerance!

Tragically however, while there is some liberalism in Malaysia and some other majority-Muslim countries, the trend is currently in the other direction. Turkey is an obvious example of this.

There have always been islands of liberalism and tolerance in Islamic societies. People will be people after all. But they are the exception not the rule, and historically they were inspired by or created by Islam's non-Muslim subjects or pressure from the outside. Imagine what Malaysia would be like if surrounded by other Muslim countries.

If you are in favor of tolerance and freedom, you cannot be in favor of Islam.


  1. You do realize that before Vatican II's declaration on religious liberty a Catholic state could likewise execute someone for the "crime" of leaving the Catholic religion right?

    1. Man, I hate it when people start out with "you do realize".

      But you're partly correct--depending on what you mean by "could". The standard formulation of the doctrine is "sin has no rights". But Vatican II had no authority to change that doctrine, nor did it claim to have that authority, whatever quasi-political statements might have been made in the documents.

    2. So yes a Catholic state could be like Saudi Arabia or 6 of the 13 states of Malaysia and execute people for leaving the religion?

    3. Only 2 (not 6) Malaysian states have the death penalty for apostasy. For the others it's caning and/or prison.

      I think its fair to say that Christian and Catholic tradition allows it but doesn't command it, just as it allows (but doesn't command) state punishment for ANY sin. And of course, historically many Christian and Catholic states DID punish apostasy--sometimes even with death (with qualifications). The Inquisition was of course partly, though not entirely, about that.

      The doctrine that "sin has no rights" means that people have no intrinsic right to sin, but that's different from saying that sin should always be punished or punished by the state. Indeed, in large part, the history of Catholic jurisprudence has been about which sins should be punished (just as non-Catholic jurisprudence has been), and I think the consensus is that it depends on the societal circumstances of the time, including among other things the question of whether the harmful effects of such punishments on the sinner as well as others would outweigh any possible good they might do. And yes, if it were decided that apostasy or any other sin constituted a sort of trend that threatened the health of the Christian community, then that would make up part of the good.

      Against all of this of course is the example of Jesus who obviously put a premium on giving people room to come around, so to speak. Among other things this is why stoning was rarely if ever practiced in Christian communities.

      I think you just got bit of an education, Willard. God grant that you use it wisely.

  2. Replies
    1. I understand, but I think I sort of covered that when I referenced Kenya.