The death penalty issued for apostasy against the Iranian pastor, Yusef Nadarkhani, evokes memories of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ affair. At the time, I found it amusing to see how the West was demanding the right of free speech for Salman Rushdie to offend, and concurrently denying the same right to Ayatollah Khomeini for expressing his fatwa. Surely, if Salman Rushdie can speak, so can the Ayatollah of Iran? Yes or no? If Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa is a call to violence, then isn’t the Satanic Verses the cause? Or is the book all benign based on objective research? You have to laugh at the level of hypocrisy, and the West can get away with it having the power of a ubiquitous media, with which it can roar like a lion or howl like a pack of wolves silencing their victims.
Before the facts are gathered, the secular-Mullahs trotting the media and the internet have issued their verdict, based on the premise that apostasy law contradicts individual freedom. As we know, such freedom exists for individuals like Salman Rushdie, but not for the Ayatollahs. Of course, in a secular framework, religion is reduced to a trivial personal matter for the individual to accept or reject. Hence, most secular constitutions guarantee freedom of religion because it has been rendered powerless in society. Naturally, under such a framework, it seems harsh to issue any kind of punishment, let alone the death penalty for a trivial personal issue like religion.