Sometimes I think back to August and September when most mainstream media outlets were obsessed about the construction of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero and/or the planned (but never realized) burning of a Koran by a leader of a small church in Florida. Everywhere the media looked, they saw Islamophobia and it became the overarching narrative adopted by many figures in the media. It's interesting to observe the media engaged in pack-like behavior and worth considering its causes and effects. Sometimes I wonder why the media just stopped covering the mosque in lower downtown Manhattan. Did it go away? No, but the media did.
In any case, there's another story out there that is worthy of much more coverage. For some reason, almost all of the mainstream media have avoided it. I first learned of the plight of Said Musa, who is about to be killed by the Afghan government for converting to Christianity from Islam, from Paul Marshall's post at National Review "America Quiet on the Execution of Afghan Christian Said Musa":
Musa was one of about 25 Christians arrested on May 31, 2010, after a May 27 Noorin TV program showed video of a worship service held by indigenous Afghan Christians; he was arrested as he attempted to seek asylum at the German embassy. He converted to Christianity eight years ago, is the father of six young children, had a leg amputated after he stepped on a landmine while serving in the Afghan Army, and now has a prosthetic leg. His oldest child is eight and one is disabled (she cannot speak). He worked for the Red Cross/Red Crescent as an adviser to other amputees.
He was forced to appear before a judge without any legal counsel and without knowledge of the charges against him. "Nobody [wanted to be my] defender before the court. When I said 'I am a Christian man,' he [a potential lawyer] immediately spat on me and abused me and mocked me. . . . I am alone between 400 [people with] terrible values in the jail, like a sheep." He has been beaten, mocked, and subjected to sleep deprivation and sexual abuse while in prison. No Afghan lawyer will defend him and authorities denied him access to a foreign lawyer.
Newspapers in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe have reported the story, but with, the exception of the Wall Street Journal and, of course, NRO, American outlets have not found it worthy of attention.
You can read Said Musa's plea for help (pictured above) from Christians worldwide, "President Brother Barak Obama President of the United States," and the head of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan here. It is heartbreaking. (Other info here and here.)
The Wall Street Journal piece mentioned earlier was written in January and does a good job of laying out the fundamental issues. It tells about Said Musa as well as Shoaib Assadullah Musawi, who was arrested for giving a copy of a New Testament to his friend. The friend turned him in. The article explains the difficulties of being a Christian in Afghanistan and how the government, which has received so much funding and other aid from U.S. taxpayers, adopts similar or same policies to the Taliban. It explains why Hamid Karzai and his government support killing Christians, too:
Afghan officials have been unapologetic. "The sentence for a convert is death and there is no exception," said Jamal Khan, chief of staff at the Ministry of Justice. "They must be sentenced to death to serve as a lesson for others." Apostasy is a capital crime in Afghanistan, where the constitution is based on Shariah, or Islamic law.
That's the way to write it out -- just explain the positions of the various sides. One side thinks it's wrong to imprison, abuse, torture and kill people for the free and peaceful expression of their faith. Another side views apostasy as a capital crime. Of course, we also need to know about the views in between. And I'm not just talking about those reform-minded Muslims who disagree with what Islam has to say about apostasy. Their voices, and the reasoning behind what they have to say, also should be included in these stories.
It also would be helpful to understand the variance on the other side of the equation. If you do a news search, you see that the people who seem to care about this situation are Christian news outlets and conservative media sites.
The same media outlets that obsessed over Terry Jones and his plans to burn a Koran don't care about the destruction of a human life. If, as Marshall notes, the planned burning of a Koran led to a widespread media binge and a Presidential statement, certainly the destruction of a human life merits at least a little media coverage, right? What does it say that these stories have received such disparate coverage? It's not like we can pretend that Americans aren't interested -- financially, politically and otherwise -- in the lives of Afghans. Billions of dollars and 1,500 lives would indicate otherwise.
Maybe the media is too busy mocking folks from Oklahoma for their views on Sharia, I don't know. But no matter the cause, the disparity in coverage of this situation and other recent stories is illuminating.