Muslim writer questions silent response to death sentence

Muslim writer Mehdi Hasan writes in The Guardian about Muslim response, or lack of, to the death sentence for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran.

‘Pleas for clemency from the archbishop of Canterbury, the UK’s foreign secretary and Amnesty International, among others, have fallen on deaf ears in Tehran. Meanwhile the silence from the world’s Muslims – especially the UK’s usually voluble Muslim organisations and self-appointed “community leaders” – has been shameful. The irony is that I have yet to come across an ordinary Muslim who agrees that a fellow believer who loses, changes or abandons his or her faith should be hanged. Yet frustratingly few Muslims are willing to speak out against such medieval barbarism. We mumble excuses, avert our eyes.’

When this behaviour changes we will have real hope for freedom in many dangerous places for Christians and others.

Read the full article here.

And it’s time the Australian government spoke out in defense of this Pastor on behalf of Australian Iranians, Christians and Muslims.

Forget billboards, Islamic leader calls for Bible ban

At a time when Christians and Muslims are conducting (mainly) respectful debates about large billboards with Islamic messages in Sydney, there has been a call in Pakistan for the Bible to be banned because it is blasphemous for Muslims.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party’s leader, Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, at a press conference on May 30 in Lahore, informally petitioned the Supreme Court, complaining that the Bible includes stories about some of the biblical prophets that include “a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures.”

Pakistiani Christians, estimated at 3 million, fear the call for a Bible ban is a sign of a trend of deepening persecution against them.

Now might be a good time for people of Islamic faith enjoying democratic rights and freedom of religion in Australia to raise their voices against this call.

Read the fully story in Christian Telegraph

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Islamic billboard benefits from Australia’s freedoms

Imagine a large billboard in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan saying, ‘Jesus Christ, greater than Mohammad’. Not going to happen.

Happily, Australia is a land of freedom of speech and religion which is why the Islamic group, MyPeace, is able to display a billboard on one of Sydney’s busiest roads, declaring, ‘Jesus A prophet of Islam’.

My Peace also plans other advertisements to join the first on Victoria Road, with slogans such as ‘Holy Quran – the final testament’ and ‘Muhummad: mercy to mankind’

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the organiser of MyPeace, Diaa Mohamed, as saying the campaign was intended to educate non-Muslims about Islam. He said Jesus was a prophet of Islam, who was to come before Muhammad. ”The only difference is we say he was a prophet of God, and they say he is God,” Mr Mohamed said. ”Is it thought-provoking? Yes, it is. We want to raise awareness that Islam believes in Jesus Christ,” he said.

Interestingly, many Christians use the same tactic (referring to Jesus as part of Islamic tradition) in communicating with people of Islamic faith, but with the reverse conclusion. The pivotal issue being not if you believe in Jesus, but who you believe him to be.

Bishop of South Sydney Rob Forsyth, also quoted by the SMH, rightly points out that the Islamic group is free to express their views and if he could afford it, he would put up billboards countering those of MyPeace and suggested atheists put some up as well, in the spirit of engendering discussion. At some point, we all need to make a decision as to whether Jesus is God or just another man.

Another important discussion would be the relative freedoms of people of different faiths in Islamic countries…

Read the full SMH report
Leave a comment describing your view of the billboard.

Sleeping political giant rising

I’ve just written an article for Alive magazine on the state of Christian politics in Australia, in the lead-up to the next election. You can view it online in the April/May issue of Alive out in early April.

One of the people I interviewed was Jim Wallace, managing director of Australian Christian Lobby. Among other things, he had this to say:

“I think that having had decades of swallowing the lies that we musn’t get involved, there must be a separation of church and state, don’t legislate your morality on me – if the devil was going to control the country, what lies would he use to keep the church out of it?  After decades of having succumbed to those, we suddenly realised that we have a heck of a mess, particularly in the state of marriage, family and children. We need to do something about it to get Biblical principles re-established in these very important areas as well as in how we treat the underprivileged, how we address poverty, internationally and nationally.”

Wallace emphasises that Christian politics should not only embrace righteousness (moral issues) but justice (poverty, Millennium Goals etc). He also is very careful not to tie the Christian vote to any particular party, avoiding the mess many of the American Christian lobby groups have got themselves into. Wallace commented to me:

“I was in America in March last year, I was talking to some organisations similar to ours, but without the non-partisan approach and their chins were on the ground; they are at a loss because they said to me, we have no access into the Obama administration and therefore no influence. But what we are most disappointed about is that we didn’t get everything we wanted out of the Republicans.”  

To be honest, as an old journo and then a pastor for 18 years, I have been a bit jaded with all this stuff because too often it seems so removed from people’s lives and so often Christian political voices were either irrelevant, irrational or both. While we have a long way to go, and realising that no human voice, political or otherwise, will measure up to the Still Small Voice, I think there are some positive signs for Christians broaching the political sphere and ACL can take a fair bit of credit.

On another issue, an article I wrote on the Islamisation of Europe appears in the current issue of Alive. You can view online here. It starts page 52. Please note my disclaimer that ‘views expressed are not necessarily my own’. Read and make up your own mind. PH