America prides itself on religious tolerance. We welcome all houses of worship.
Increasingly, however, Islamist leaders are demanding even more religious tolerance, more mosques.
However, there is absolutely no reciprocity in the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, do not allow Christians, Jews, or other “infidels” to pray openly or to build any or new houses of worship.
Currently, the Arab Muslim Middle East is almost completely “Judenrein,” (free of Jews) since more than 800,000 Arab Jews were exiled or forced to flee their countries between 1948-1968.
Currently, Christians are being savagely persecuted in Egypt, the disputed Palestinian territories, Somalia, Algeria, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Christians have literally been crucified, teenaged Christian girls have been kidnapped, raped, then forced to marry their rapists and convert to Islam.
In 2007, an Egyptian, Mohammed Hegazy, converted to Christianity and tried to legally register his conversion. He received so many death threats that he was forced into hiding; his own father threatened to “kill him with my own hands if he does not return to Islam.”
Mina Nevisa is an Iranian convert to Christianity who fled Iran; her cousin was not so lucky. “She was arrested on charges of apostasy and taken to Evin prison, where she was raped, tortured, and then killed by firing squad. The pastor was also killed.”
In 2010, in Pakistan, a Muslim mob attacked a Christian man and slaughtered him with pick-axes for refusing to convert to Islam.
America does not persecute converts. Indeed, about 50,000 Americans each year convert to Islam. It is estimated that 20,000 American Muslims convert to Christianity. Their fates are very different.
Converts to Islam are not harassed, intimidated, shunned by their families, relatives, and neighbors, or forced into hiding by murderously angry former co-religionists.
Muslim converts to Christianity are subjected to online death threats and can never see their families again. The pastors and priests who convert them remain at risk.
The very young and fragile Rifqa Bary, on trial now in Columbus, Ohio, is a symbol of all these issues.
Rifqa is the seventeen-year-old teenager who secretly converted to Christianity and who, in August of 2009, bravely fled her family’s home in Ohio. Not only did she claim serious childhood abuse, she also insisted that her family would honor murder her now that her conversion was known.
At the time, as a psychologist and the author of studies about honor killings in the West, I was asked by Florida’s Attorney General to submit an Affadavit on Rifqa’s behalf. I did so, as did my friend and colleague, Ibn Warraq, the author of "Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out."
We both explained that Rifqa’s fears were utterly realistic; that apostasy is considered a capital crime in Islam; and that Muslim women had already been honor murdered in the West for this alleged “crime” and for refusing to convert to Islam. Some had been forced into hiding to save their lives.
In addition, I focused on the fact that Muslim girls and women have been honor murdered in the West for having Christian or non-Muslim friends, including boyfriends; for wanting to marry Christian men. Imagine how much more of a sin it is for a Muslim to choose a Christian God!
Rifqa did not get her day in court in Florida. She was returned to state custody in Ohio where she has been living with a foster family.
Now, Rifqa might finally be heard. Although she has been suffering from cancer, she has steadfastly refused to meet with her family—all of whom are here illegally from Sri Lanka and all of whom may be deported.
I am in awe of this young girl’s strength and desire to save her own life. The company she keeps include very many high profile Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents, feminists, and converts who live with round-the-clock police protection or in hiding.
In Western Europe, Muslims who become secular, if not Christian, or who openly criticize Islam are themselves treated as if they are “apostates.”
Such heroes include politicians in Holland, philosophers in France, feminist activists in Belgium, Germany, and England.
Egyptian-Italian journalist, Magdi Allam, was converted to Catholicism by the pope. He requires six police officers at any given time.
I can only hope and pray that the magistrate who is hearing Rifqa Bary’s case is brave enough to educate herself about the realities of apostasy, the unsettling, unpleasant truth about Islamic religious apartheid and allow Rifqa to remain in state custody, apply for American citizenship or perhaps for political asylum.
Like Magdi Allam, Rifqa might require many police officers or even a federal witness protection program.
But in America, where she lives, we take religious freedom seriously. It is why our ancestors came here.
Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. is a frequent contributor to Fox News and blogs regularly at Pajamas Media and NewsReal Blog. She is the author of thirteen books, including "Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman" and "The New Anti-Semitism," and may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com
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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies. She is the author of 4 studies about honor killings and 16 books.