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August 27, 2003

Let He Who is Without Sin...

Islamic laws, as interpreted by states who closely follow Shariah, is a frightening thing. Today, a woman in Nigeria awaits stoning for the sin of having a baby out of wedlock. Her former husband denied responsibility for the child and was acquitted, the woman, Amina Lawal, didn't have that same option.

The courts were kind enough to put off the carrying out of the sentence until the baby was weaned, but the time is coming quickly for Lawal to be killed.

An Islamic court convicted Lawal in March 2002 following the birth of her baby, more than two years after Lawal and her husband divorced.

Judges ordered her buried up to her neck in sand and stoned. While appeals continue, courts have ordered Lawal's execution postponed until her child -- now nearly 2 -- is weaned.

There is a very good chance that the sentence will not be carried out, as Nigerian courts have shown lenience in such situations before. The scary part, though, is that many countries (such as our erstwhile ally Saudi Arabia) have no qualms, whatsoever, with carrying out capital punishment in a very casual manner.

Readers of my blog will no doubt be aware that I am opposed to the death penalty in the United States. My opposition to the terrifying punishments in Shariah are even more pronounced.

With the growth of Islam's influence in Africa, this situation is likely to become somewhat commonplace. The insular and xenophobic nature of conservative Muslim nations is one of the things that has made peace in the Middle East such a difficult task; from a Western vantage point, African nations that are embracing Islam should be encouraged to move toward a more liberal, open interpretation. Even better would be to encourage liberal governments that tolerate all religious observances without codifying those religious observances as law.

Read Lawal's story.

Posted by zombyboy at August 27, 2003 10:42 PM
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