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Professor Robinson's blind spot

Reader comment on item: [Paul H. Robinson:] U Penn Prof for Shari'a

Submitted by Chris Atwood (United States), Jul 26, 2004 at 14:26

I find it interesting that Professor Robinson nowhere even touches on the issue of religious freedom. To him, Shari'a is objectionable solely because it has "barbaric" punishments. If he's representing his own views fairly, he will have no problem setting his students to work on the appropriate, non-"barbaric" penalties for conversion to Christianity (or any other religion.) The death penalty is out certainly, but heavy fines and long prison sentences for following one's conscience--that's not barbaric, that's modern.

I hope I'm wrong, but it fits a pattern that I have long noticed. The real divide in the West on religious freedom is between those (often with a lukewarm religious feeling) who see religion as essentially ancestral rituals, and hence don't really think there's any call for a human right to convert, and those (usually strongly religious, but sometimes hard-core atheists) who see religion essentially as a realm of truth and conscience, and who see the right to convert as the core right of religious freedom, from which all others spring. Unfortunately, the former group often ends up working hand in glove with the Islamists abroad who see religion as the realm of truth--their truth only--and hence won't allow any conversion at all.

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