TIME magazine publishes hit piece on Rahman and the Christian right

For no apparent reason other than to make fun of the “Christian right.” Rachel Morarjee writes:

Western leaders breathed a sigh of relief yesterday at the release of Abdul Rahman, a Christian convert who had faced the death penalty under Afghanistan’s Islamic law for renouncing his Muslim faith. Rahman, 40, has become the poster boy for the Christian right and for religious freedom.

Ok, let’s start with that. Since when did Rahman become a “poster boy” for the Christian right? Does the Christian left not support religious freedom or something? Is the Christian left not concerned with the fact that a man was nearly put to death over the “crime” of converting to Christianity in a country where our military (and that of our coaltion) has shed blood and lost lives fighting for things like religious freedom? Those last two questions are rhetorical of course, but deserved the mention all the same.

Closer up, however, the picture painted by the local police who arrested him shows a candidate not quite ready for family values.

Uh, WHO is trying to turn him into a “family values” candidate here? Answer: no one – except maybe TIME magazine.

Rather, a portrait emerges of a deadbeat dad with psychological problems who couldn’t hold down a job, abused his daughters and parents and didn’t pay child support.

So, Rahman supposedly isn’t a model citizen, so does that mean his life shouldn’t be spared because of that? (Keep in mind these statements are coming from his family – and I’ll get to their credibility issues in a moment)

The article goes on to quote family members who don’t paint a flattering picture of Rahman, and includes quotes from family members who make clear that he is not welcome around them because he converted to Christianity. With that in mind, you’d think TIME magazine would make the same moral judgement against Rahman’s family they made against him. Rahman’s not a role model because he’s allegedly a deadbeat dad – the TIME article makes sure to point that out. But note they make no moral judgement against Rahman” family for disowning him for converting to Christianity.

One thing also left out of the article: It was Rahman’s family who turned him in to the authorities in the first place:

Officials say his family, who remain observant Muslims, turned him over to the authorities.

Yet it’s that family that TIME relies on to give us the facts on Rahman, only one of which he confirms.

Also, the article includes in it’s closing paragraph an apparent concern for Rahman’s family:

Now, both his daughters and the rest of his family are in hiding in Kabul, fearful that they could be targeted by a now liberated Rahman or by Islamic extremists.

But shows no concern for the fate of Rahman himself.

So why exactly was it important to publish this piece in the first place? TIME can’t possibly support the original punishment (death) pushed for by prosecutors there – so the only conclusion I can draw from this is that they wanted to paint Rahman in the worst possible light to show that he, as a “poster boy” of the Christian right (but not left) and the implication is clearly that he’s yet another family values role model for the Christian right who is not as pure as the driven snow as he’s supposedly being painted by the Christian right. In short: making moral judgements against a “poster boy” for the Christian right is within bounds, but making moral judgements against the family who turned him in for converting to Christianity in the first place is off limits. This is a thinly disguised and unwarranted hit piece on the Christian right and family values.

By the way, here’s an update on Rahman’s whereabouts:

ROME – The Afghan man who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity received asylum in Italy Wednesday, despite requests by lawmakers in Afghanistan that he be barred from fleeing the conservative Muslim country.

Abdul Rahman arrived in Rome days after he was freed from a high-security prison on the outskirts of Kabul after a court dropped charges of apostasy against him for lack of evidence and suspected mental illness.


It also inspired an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and efforts by the United Nations to find a country to take him in after Muslim clerics in Afghanistan threatened his life, saying his conversion was a “betrayal to Islam.”

Rahman was in the care of Italy’s Interior Ministry, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday evening. “He is already in Italy,” he said. “I think he arrived overnight.”

The premier declined to release more details. The Interior Ministry said Rahman was “under protection.”

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