Christians living in Muslim regimes are routinely persecuted for their faith, and many are often tortured in killed because they are a Christian. Religious freedom does not currently exist in these nations, and Christians are at risk daily because of their beliefs.
Former Muslim says religious liberty in Muslim nations will only come after bloodshed
by Benjamin Hawkins
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
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FORT WORTH , Texas (BP)The liberation of Iraq has opened a door for religious freedom in Islamic nations, but it may only come after much bloodshed, Emir Caner, dean of The College at Southwestern said during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminarys first conference on Baptist distinctives Sept. 8.
Caner warned during the First Freedom conference on religious liberty that the struggle for religious liberty exacts a heavy toll on those who seek it. Religious liberty in the West was the result of 1,500 years of religious persecution, he said. He pointed to early martyrs, such as the Apostles Paul and Peter, and the persecuted church under the Roman Empire . At times, even the persecuting Romans were sickened by so much bloodshed, Caner said.
All people, including Muslims, have a limit to how much oppression they will allow, Caner said.
Earlier this year, Caner met with General George Sadah, personal advisor to Ayad Allawi , Iraq s interim prime minister. Recalling centuries of religious oppression in Iraq , Caner asked Sadah why he considered religious liberty a possibility. Sadah told Caner its possible because Americans have shed enough blood that we are willing to listen to them now.
With the support of the Iraqi people, Iraqi officials are now trying to implement religious liberty within their government, Caner said.
This opportunity to introduce religious liberty into the Islamic world comes when views of Islam are varied and confused. Since Sept. 11, 2001, academic centers of Islamic studies have recoiled from honest discussions of Islam, Caner said. Arguments about the differences between extremism and mainstream Islam are common.
Caner mentioned two groups of Islamic belief and practice. Purist Islam, he said, is Islam of the seventh century, interpreting the Koran in literal and historical terms. This is the Islam of Muhammad, he said. Extremist Islam, on the other hand, goes beyond Muhammads statement. Female holy warriors are extremists because Muhammad only called men to war; he excluded women and the invalid.
Therefore, there is extremism within Islam, but just to assume everything is peaceful or to say anyone who picks up a sword in the name of Islam is extremist, is not only insulting to the mind and conscience, but insulting to many Muslims around the world, Caner said. He reported that the current movement in the Islamic world is to revert to purist Islam.
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