Those were the words of an Iranian prosecutor when Marzieh said she had converted to Christianity from Islam after being convicted by the Holy Spirit. Marzieh and Maryam were eventually acquitted of the charge of “anti-state activities” and released from prison, thanks in part to the efforts of members of One Free World International.
This is one little incident reported in the book Freedom Fighter*, written by Majed El Shafie, the founder of One Free World International. The book gives a brief account of El Shafie’s own faith journey from Islam to Christianity and an overview of religious persecution in Egypt, China, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Majed El Shafie is a native of Egypt who converted to Christianity in 1998 at the age of 20. A year later he was arrested, beaten and tortured, resisting all attempts to force him to name his fellow believers. He escaped to Israel and in 2002 was granted political asylum in Canada. He is now a Canadian citizen and has spoken on religious freedom issues to committees of the Canadian Parliament and the U.S. Congress.
El Shafie has led delegations to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, meeting government officials to press for an end to persecution of religious minorities. In a few cases of severe persecution, One Free World International** has been able to help individuals escape to Canada. The book contains an endorsement by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
I am afraid that we do not value highly enough the religious freedom we enjoy in countries like Canada. This freedom is a direct result of the Christian belief that religious faith is not a matter of nationality, culture, tradition or family, but of personal choice. There have been “Christian nations” in history who tolerated only one version of Christianity and persecuted all others, but this was always a perversion of the true Christian faith. From its apostolic beginnings, an essential attribute of Christian faith has been that we can honour the Emperor without bowing down to his gods.
That belief is incomprehensible and intolerable in Islam. Muslims believe in a God with whom they can have no personal relationship, who demands unquestioning obedience and who hates all “infidels” (non-Muslims).
El Shafie includes a section on Israel, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Baha’is can freely live their faiths. Such a thing is unthinkable in the Palestinian territories. Why then have our universities been hijacked by Palestinian sympathizers? Not to mention the United Church of Canada?
Do we well when we buy Made in China consumer goods at Walmart and other stores? Or clothing that is made in Pakistan? I haven’t exactly decided to boycott products from those countries, but I will be more diligent in looking for labels that say Made in Canada, or Made in the USA, Brazil, France or any other country where I don’t have reason to fear that my dollars are helping support a regime that is systematically persecuting Christians.
Some readers may not feel comfortable with El Shafie’s form of activism, but Freedom Fighter is a wake-up call about religious persecution in the world today.
* Freedom Fighter, © 2012 Majed El Shafie , published by Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg PA