If a fourteen year old girl has sex with her forty year old male cousin, who is to blame? If members of the man’s family then beat up the fourteen year old, what should happen next? The reports are confusing, she may have been fifteen and she may have been having an affair or it may have been rape. The girl, named Hena, lived in Bangladesh, so she was handed over to the village court, or Sharia Committee, who locked her up. The following day she was accused of immoral sexuality before marriage and sentenced to 100 lashes. After almost 80 lashes she passed out and was taken to the local hospital where she died days later.
Last July the Bangladesh government outlawed such fatwas, but it didn’t prevent this death or a similar one in December in which a woman died after receiving 40 lashes for sleeping with her stepson.
At least this time the government has taken action and arrested a Muslim cleric who sat on the Sharia Committee and three villagers, including the wife of the man involved in the incident.
Meanwhile, the government in Iran executes on average two people every day to implement Islamic law. Crimes subject to the death penalty include Apostacy, Murder, Armed Robbery, Drug Trafficking, Adultery and Rape. One of the latest people to fall foul of these laws was Abdolreza Gharabat. He claimed to be God and had succeeded in attracting a number of followers in the Khuzestan province. He was convicted of Apostacy and hanged on Wednesday. Surely his mental health must have been in question, to declare himself God in Iran and he should have received medical help instead of a death penalty. On the other hand, if he rises from the dead, he will certainly have a convincing argument.
Let us also remember the 35 people killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians last week in Nigeria and over 100 killed in another stampede at an Indian religious festival just over two weeks ago. Then there are the people of questionable sanity like Muzzammil Hassan and Miriam Smith. Mizzammil, on trial for the murder of his wife in 2009, claims that God gave him extra courage to kill her. Miriam was minding her nephew’s dog, a one year old pit bull, when it chewed her bible. She claims God told her it was a devil dog that had to be killed. She hung it from a tree, doused it in kerosene and set it on fire.
It all goes to show what can happen when people take religion too seriously. Thank God for Religious Apathy.