'I Have Embraced Islam and Say the Word Allah'
Today's Top Five
1. Compulsion in religion
"There is no compulsion in religion," says the Qur'an. "We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint," says Steve Centanni, the Fox News correspondent who was kidnapped with cameraman Olaf Wiig. "Don't get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn't know what the hell was going on," he said.
Hard news coverage of the forced conversionwhich echoes the Jill Carroll kidnappinghas been limited. Discussion has been mostly limited to conservative columnists, op-ed writers, and bloggers. That's unfortunate, since it places the debate in a "neo-conservatives" vs. "Islamofascists" narrative instead of a larger discussion of human rights.
Perhaps the reporters already feel defensive on the subjectThe New York Times, among others, took much criticism for its initial headline, "2 Kidnapped Journalists in Gaza Freed Unharmed," before it changed it to "Fox News Journalists Free After Declaring Conversion on Tape." And perhaps the wind was taken out of reporters' sails by Centanni's apparent enthusiasm for Islam (leading some to accuse him of Stockholm Syndrome) and his shrugging the conversion off as a minor inconvenience on the way to freedom.
But the compelled conversion story has moved on and grown beyond kidnapped reporters. Almost every day, of course, religious liberty watchdogs like Compass Direct and AsiaNews.it report stories of Christians forced to convert to Islam or punished for converting out of it. For whatever reason, those rarely attract mainstream news attention. But politics stories do attract mainstream news attention, so it's ...
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