Current Events

Afghanistan’s Religious “Freedom”

On March 20, 2006, The Arizona Republic published an article about an abominable situation in Afghanistan. This is the same country which Western powers decided to set free from tyranny and terrorism and to guarantee those freedoms which Western citizens treasure dearly, including the freedom of speech and religion. However, we see today the influence of former war lords and drug traffickers in Afghanistan, as well as unspeakable religious tyranny, which is legally sanctioned and promoted:

“An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death on a charge of converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under this country’s Islamic laws… The defendant… was arrested last month [with a Bible in his possession] after his family accused him of becoming a Christian [and] was charged with rejecting Islam. During a one-day hearing, the defendant confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago … ‘We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law,’ the judge said… the prosecutor.. said he had offered to drop the charges if [the defendant] converted back to Islam, but he refused… ‘We are Muslims, and becoming a Christian is against our laws [the prosecutor said]. He must get the death penalty.'”

When reading that his own family accused the defendant and reported him to the authorities, we are reminded of a Biblical prophecy telling us that at the very end, true Christians “will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of [them] to death” (Luke 21:16).

On March 21, 2006, added the following:

“If sentenced to death, Mr. Rahman has two avenues of appeal: to the Provincial Court and to the Supreme Court. The death sentence also would need President Hamid Karzai’s approval to be carried out. [Karzai could change the death sentence to life in prison. Whether he would do so or whether he would bow to the pressure of radicals, will remain to be seen]… The trial is believed to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and highlights a struggle between religious conservatives and reformists over what shape Islam should take four years after the ouster from Afghanistan of the fundamentalist Taliban regime. It also reveals the friction between Islamic and statutory law. Both are affirmed in the country’s draft constitution, which says Islam is the religion of Afghanistan but also mentions the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which ensures freedom of religion. Afghanistan is a conservative Islamic country. About 99 per cent of its 28 million people are Muslim and the rest are mainly Hindu.

“A Christian aid worker in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said there is no reliable figure for the number of Christians in the country, although it is believed to be only in the dozens or low hundreds. He said few admit their faith because of fear of retribution and there are no known Afghan churches.”

AFP reported on March 22: “International pressure is mounting on Afghanistan… Washington says it is watching closely how Kabul deals with Rahman, 41, who is believed to be the first convert accused in Afghanistan under strict Islamic Sharia law for refusing to become Muslim again. Germany, where Rahman reportedly lived for nine years before returning to his war-scarred homeland, has called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to step in and save him.”

The Associated Press stated on March 22, 2006 that “German Roman Catholic Cardinal Karl Lehmann said the trial sent an ‘alarming signal’ about freedom of worship in Afghanistan.”

When will the Western powers begin to retaliate against the persecution of their religious faith? Even though “freedom of religion” is guaranteed in the draft Afghan constitution, it appears that it is only applied to the “freedom” of Muslims to follow the Koran and, in effect, to suppress Christianity. As Der Spiegel Online reported on March 21, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reminded the government of Afghanistan of their duty to guarantee “religious freedom.” The Afghan government responded that they will not intervene in the case, as this was a matter of the judicial branch. According to the magazine, Afghanistan’s judges are still the same old conservative hardliners that existed five years ago. Insofar, nothing has changed since the “liberation” of Afghanistan. Some “cautious” German politicians are concerned about the “sensitivities” in Afghanistan, as the situation could “explode.”

Nicholas Burns, U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, reportedly agreed. According to AFP of March 22, he “suggested that Washington would not try to impose its will in the controversial case.”

However, President Bush used much stronger words. According to The Associated Press of March 22, he stated: “We expect them to honor the universal principle of freedom… I’m troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That’s not the universal application of the values that I talked about. I look forward to working with the government of that country to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship.”

Other governmental officials from Germany state that Afghanistan’s conduct must be condemned by the international community, and that all European financial support for the country must immediately cease unless it changes. According to News Networld of March 22, the Afghan government responded by accusing Germany of “blackmail.”

In another bizarre twist of events, “Afghanistan said that a man facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity might be mentally unfit to stand trial, as international pressure over the case mounted… Observers said the court’s announcement may be a sign that Afghanistan is seeking a way out of an increasingly embarrassing issue for US-backed President Hamid Karzai” (AFP, March 22, 2006).

Of course, such a “cop-out” would not solve anything. What happens next time when another Afghan Muslim is accused of converting to Christianity? Or, are the Afghan authorities prepared to declare every Muslim as insane who converts to Christianity?

In addition, Afghan Muslim clerics have taken an unmistakable stance on the situation. As The Associated Press reported on March 23, “[Four] Senior Muslim clerics [in Kabul] said Thursday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity should be killed regardless of whether a court decides to free him… ‘He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian,’ said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque. ‘The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed.’ ‘He is not mad. The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled,’ said Abdul Raoulf, cleric at Herati Mosque. ‘This is humiliating for Islam. … Cut off his head.’ Raoulf is considered a moderate cleric in Afghanistan. He was jailed three times for criticizing the Taliban’s policies before the hard-line regime was ousted by US-led forces in 2001.”

Der Spiegel Online published the following biting and thought-provoking commentary on March 23:

“A few caricatures in a Dutch newspaper caused bloody riots in the Muslim world. But now an Afghan man has been sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. Afghanistan has told the West it should mind its own business. Come again?”

The magazine continued: “German liberty has not arrived [and] radical Islam has remained… Afghanistan is no properly democratic state. The fact that a Muslim is now facing the death penalty because of his conversion to Christianity shows how far this country still is from guaranteeing its citizens the most basic rights. In neighboring Pakistan, an ally in the war on terror, the situation is hardly any better. There Christians, who make up between five and 10 percent of the p
opulation, live in ghettos, faced with the constant threat of violence. Many Christians living in Islamic countries exist in a state of religious apartheid. The response to Western criticism of the Kabul verdict is being dismissed as a case of foreigners ‘meddling’ in Afghanistan’s ‘domestic affairs.’ This means it’s high time to send a clearer message. It’s not just about Abdul Rahman, who has chosen to become a Christian for reasons that are no one’s business but his own. It’s also about the women locked away in Afghan prisons for having been accused of adultery. It’s about female students who can’t walk down the street by themselves because a few male illiterates might get it into their heads to attack them. And it’s about the many hundreds of thousands of Afghan women forced to live their lives behind walls — without access to education, without the right to happiness. There is a good chance that President Hamid Karzai will pardon Abdul Rahman, as he has many of the imprisoned women, who are often convicted on bogus adultery charges made up by men who simply want to get rid of them. But this is not about mercy; it’s about basic human rights. The West should insist on nothing less. “This is in no way merely a domestic matter — it is a question of the validity of international human rights. When a Danish newspaper published a few more or less idiotic cartoons, Islamic rage flared up. Now that human lives and basic rights are at issue, we’re hearing statements that could just as easily have been made during the Cold War. Back then, the phrase ‘domestic affairs’ was invoked by the Soviet empire every time the West criticized its human rights record. What concerns Abdul Rahman and the women of Afghanistan concerns us too. And if the German army can’t defend this kind of liberty in the Hindukush, then it should leave. Our soldiers have sworn allegiance to the rights enshrined in the German constitution; there’s no reason to turn these soldiers into toothless operetta characters.”

We are observing another example of an outright war–at this time being fought with words–between Islam and Christianity. According to Biblical prophecy, Europe WILL ultimately accept the challenge and begin to act–and when doing so, IT will, in turn, become dictatorial in its approach with religions other than “orthodox” Christianity. Sadly, religious persecution will be the consequence. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

Austria’s Schüssel on European Unification

During a SPIEGEL Interview on March 20, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel stated the following about European unification:

“… the discussion about European identity is critical if we want to get to the bottom of discontent in Europe. What do our citizens find at fault in Europe, in its institutions? For the first time, we are now talking about issues like Europe’s geographic borders and, as was discussed in the European Parliament last week, the question of the EU’s capacity to accept new members. If you don’t see this as progress, I can’t help you. In my view, it’s a positive sign that we don’t immediately have the fitting answer for every question. We have to think about things for a while before we can provide the right answers. Where should the journey be going? Who assumes responsibility?… The Austrians aren’t against the EU… The main issue is European harmony, which emanates from Europe’s diversity of opinion, and indeed its diversity per se. This is our strength, which, admittedly, needs a little work. We have to be more self-confident about projecting the ‘European way of life’ to the rest of the world. It’s far more attractive than the American model, for example. We have a more effective balance among economic performance, social cohesiveness and environmental sustainability. We should embrace this tremendous aura and not call it into doubt… We just happen to need more of Europe in some areas. In foreign policy, for example, or in the coordination of a joint energy policy. We need less small-mindedness in these areas. In other areas, the regions need to be strengthened. In many cases, a national state is too small to deal with the biggest problems… The only way to bring peace to a region plagued by bloody wars and forced expulsions until not too long ago is to offer it the prospects of EU membership. We must tell them that they will be part of us sooner or later. “

The magazine also published the following exchange:

“Der Spiegel: In other words, a future Europe would feature stronger local and regional competencies and a common European foreign policy and defense policy. Wouldn’t this ultimately spell the demise of the nation-state?

“Schüssel: No, nation-states will retain their positions, otherwise none of this will work. The nation-states must make Europe their top priority, and must feel responsible for this European being. We have to nurture this little plant.”

As the Bible clearly states, Europe will unite soon and become a mighty power bloc. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

China, Japan and Russia

The Bible prophesies that a mighty power bloc, consisting of countries such as Russia, China and Japan, among others, will become an economic, political and even military challenge to Europe and the Western Word. The following recent reports are interesting in light of these predictions:

On March 23, the China Daily reported: “China and Russia are important partners in economic and technological development, President Hu Jintao and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed yesterday… In a speech, Putin highlighted Sino-Russian energy co-operation, saying that Russia has become China’s fifth-largest energy supplier. On Tuesday, the two countries signed three deals on oil and natural gas supplies… Trade volume between China and Russia has been increasing rapidly in recent years and exceeded US$29 billion last year.”

Reuters reported on March 23: “China said on Thursday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin left Beijing, that Beijing and Moscow are in accord on Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday criticized a draft U.N. Security Council statement aimed at pressuring Iran to stop enriching uranium.”

AFP reported on March 23: “Senior US officials have urged Japan to halt development of a massive oil field with Iran amid concern that revenue from the project could fuel the Islamic state’s nuclear drive, a report said… The US embassy told AFP Japan was aware of US opposition to investment in Iran but declined to comment on whether Washington has pressured Tokyo to stop the Azadegan project… But a Japanese foreign ministry spokeswoman said Japan ‘is holding no concrete talks with the United States’ on the future of the project. ‘The Azadegan oil development is a very important project for us in terms of stable energy supply. We will cope with the matter squarely as nuclear non-proliferation and stable supply of crude oil are both important,’ she said. Japan has walked a tightrope on the Iranian crisis, supporting US and European calls for Tehran to give up its nuclear program while trying not to jeopardize its close commercial ties with the Islamic regime. Japan defied the United States in 2004 by signing the contract to develop Azadegan, considered one of the world’s biggest untapped oil reserves.”

For more information on the future of China, Russia and Japan, as mentioned in the Bible, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

America’s Incredible Debt to Foreign Powers

On March 17, 2006, The Times published the following article:

“If you are worried about how much you owe on your credit cards, this might put things in perspective: America’s national debt limit was increased yesterday to $9 trillion… enough to buy Buckingham Palace 9,000 times… The increase, passed by Congress, allows the Government to borrow another $781 billion (£447 billion), increasing the national debt limit–the maximum America can borrow–from $8 trillion and $184 billion to $8 trillion and $961 billion. If the debt ceiling, which is set by Congress, had not been raised by March 24, the Administration would not have been able to borrow more money and the US would have begun to default on its domestic and foreign obligations, an untenable consequence… The national debt is the total amount owed by the Government… America has had a national debt since 1791, when it was $75 million. Today it rises by that amount every hour.”

The article explained the enormity of a sum of $9 Trillion:

“[It]… equates to $1,500 for every man, woman and child in the world… it would buy all the tea in the world for the next 2,000 years… [it is] enough to solve the Palestinian crisis by rehousing every Israeli and Palestinian family… [it would] build 28 Eiffel Towers–constructed out of gold.”

The article made the additional striking observation:

“Nearly half the publicly owed debt is held by foreigners. Japan is the biggest creditor, at $668 billion. China, the second-biggest, recently increased its stake by $40 billion to $263 billion…”

We see Biblical prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. God prophesied thousands of years ago that in these end times, foreigners would control and rule over the USA (compare Deuteronomy 28:43-44). We are observing the beginning of this development, because, as the Bible says, the borrower is the servant or slave to the lender (compare Proverbs 22:7). The following words by Alice Rivlin, a former budget director for Bill Clinton, are quite remarkable, as quoted in the above-stated article: “We used to have much less held by foreigners. It makes you much more vulnerable to people’s agendas.” Ultimately, the USA which is already, to an extent, a slave to the lender, will even become defeated in an outright war by a foreign enemy and it will become QUITE LITERALLY enslaved (Deuteronomy 28:47-50, 52). For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

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