What is often not discussed or written about at length is what goes on in some Islamic countries. This vast silence on the left is probably attributable to the discomfort with being seen to be as "out there" as Republicans and certain conservatives, yet I believe that such silence is damaging to the reputation of those persons.
What brought this to mind was a recent article in the NY Times in regards to the dwindling number of Christians in the Middle East. Not that I particularly care about the number of Christians in the Middle East per se, but much of the causes of this strike me as something to be commented on:
On Sunday in Jordan the pope argued that Christians had a role here in reconciliation, that their very presence eased the strife, and that the decline of that presence could help to increase extremism. When the mix of beliefs and lifestyles goes down, orthodoxy rises, he implied, as does uniformity of the cultural landscape in a region where tolerance is not an outstanding virtue.
I have to agree with the Pope on the position that the decline in the presence of religious minorities of ANY kind leads to a monoculture and extremism. Particularly faiths that have expansionist tendencies such as Christianity and Islam. Now I'm very aware that the Pope has a horse in this race in that the diminishing Christian population in that part of the world is a direct threat to the Catholic church's power in that region. I'm also quite sure that the Pope is not exactly going out of his way to increase the population of Muslims in Italy or the Vatican. But in this case he has a point.
In Saudi Arabia, churches are illegal. In the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Christians are foreign workers without the prospect of citizenship.
Herein lies the problem as I see it. I pointed this out in my critique of Afghanistan earlier, where it is illegal to convert to Christianity or any other religion for that matter. I will also mention the attempt to use the UN conference against Racism and Xenophobia to pass an outrageous rule making it illegal to "defame" religion.
All of these are signs of religious institutions that are weak of mind and spirit. The "faithful" do not need laws to prevent them from leaving their religion. If their religion is so correct, so true and upright, then it will withstand any criticism leveled at it. It is the duty of all fair minded people who rightfully critique Israel for trying to create a "Jewish" state to the clear exclusion of it's Christian and Muslim population to also level the same criticism of Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc. for their own clear discrimination and censorship.