Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Missing person

The Age, a left-leaning Australian broadsheet, has a report today on the disappearance of an Iranian woman living in suburban Melbourne. Mandy Ahmadi*, who arrived in Australia with her husband in 1999, disappeared on December 16 last year without taking her handbag, money or credit cards. Her husband and two sons fear she has been abducted by Islamic extremists. She and her husband converted to Christianity five and four years ago respectively.

A Christian pastor who has known the Ahmadis for eight years said that Mrs Ahmadi "really stuck her neck out" trying to convert Muslims and he feared that her zeal had come to the attention of Iran-based militants.

I quote directly from the newspaper's carefully phrased report:

Islam, strictly interpreted, mandates death for adults who leave the religion**, and there are many cases of Iranian converts being killed, both in Iran and Europe.

The same penalty may be applied to those who seek to persuade Muslims to leave their religion. While there are accounts of Muslims who converted being beaten in Australia, The Age is not aware of any claims of killings.

* Her husband's surname is Ahmadi and she was called Mandy Ahmadi in the original report. Her legal name appears to be Zahara Rahimzadegan. It is not the custom in Iran for a woman to take her husband's surname.

** It is not quite as simple as this. I am no expert, but this is the situation as I see it. The Quran says that the apostate will receive punishment in hell after judgement day, but does not mandate an earthly penalty. However, basing their views on some hadith (acts or sayings ascribed to the prophet Muhammad), most traditional Muslim scholars argue that apostasy is indeed punishable by death.

Update (Jan. 13): Police are conducting a search of the missing woman's house and surrounding areas. A police spokesman has indicated that the disappearance is unrelated to Zahara Rahimzadegan's religious activities. I'll post again when more has been made public.

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