As events in the Middle East spin out of control, and allies and foes of the U.S. see that there is no downside to crossing this administration (and no upside to relying on it), the violence multiplies. We currently have a bloody civil war in Libya, an “invited” invasion of Bahrain and another war in Yemen. There is news of demonstrations in Syria, but who really thinks President Bashar al-Assad won’t crush them with full knowledge that the U.S. will do nothing?
Meanwhile, Pakistan, whose political stability and human rights record have been sliding anyway, now is the locale of a Christian’s mysterious death. Lela Gilbert of the Hudson Institute writes:
Qamar David, a Pakistani Christian serving a life sentence for blasphemy against Islam, was found dead in his Karachi jail cell yesterday. David, in prison since 2002, was sentenced for allegedly sending derogatory text messages about the Prophet Mohammed, though his lawyer maintains that the charges were motivated by a business rivalry. He was 55 years old and the father of four sons.
This is not an isolated incident, of course. Gilbert documents some recent events:
Qamar David is the most recent in a mounting toll of Pakistani deaths this year related to blasphemy. In January 2011, Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, was shot by one of his bodyguards, who was angry about Taseer’s opposition to the blasphemy laws. Taseer, a Muslim, had come to the defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, who was sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy in November 2010. Her continuing imprisonment has attracted international concern.
On March 2, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Roman Catholic and the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet, was shot dead during an ambush by gunmen in Islamabad. He had received numerous death threats over his efforts to reform the blasphemy laws. He had courageously and outspokenly defied the threats.
Also this year in Pakistan, ten Sufis were murdered for their religious heterodoxy, and a Sunni Muslim man was killed by someone who had accused him of blasphemy.
You see, when the U.S. is at the whim of the “international community” and recedes from a leadership role, all sorts of opportunists are incentivized. If this administration never made religious persecution an issue before, it certainly is not going to do so now. And let’s be blunt: The international community did nothing for Qamar David and will do nothing else effective for the other similarly endangered religious minorities in the region. Certainly, the despots and the jihadists know this.