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More on the Reckless Stupidity of the Arrested Christian Aid Workers in Taliban Afghanistan

September 6, 2001

Yesterday I wrote that the prize for the stupidest people in the world could very well go to the eight foreign aid workers associated with Shelter Now, a German-based Christian organization, who apparently were caught in Afghanistan trying to convert people from Islam to Christianity.

Many readers agreed with my assessment.   A few readers, however, felt that these aid workers were akin to Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King and others protesting unjust situations.  Along those lines, some other readers felt that the aid workers should be commended for risking their lives for their beliefs.

One person even accused me of Christian-bashing.  Regarding this allegation, I think it was obvious to most everybody else that I was criticizing the location and manner of the proselytizing, not what these aid workers were proselytizing about.

As to the other points raised:

First: these Shelter Now aid workers were allowed entry into Afghanistan to feed starving people.  You don't proselytize hungry people you are feeding.  That's an inherently coercive situation.  If these aid workers were doing that, they should be ashamed.

Second: it's not their own lives they were risking.  As Westerners, they will be treated far more leniently than the 16 Afghan staff members who also were arrested.  It's the Afghans who face torture and death.  The foreign aid workers at last word face only expulsion from Afghanistan.

Third: the aid workers didn't go to Afghanistan to protest or change an unjust situation, nor, by their own words, to risk their lives for their beliefs.  According to statements made by some of them, they claim not to have known what they were doing was really wrong, and have apologized.

The two Americans admit showing a video CD about Jesus. But ''we did not think it would cause so much trouble,'' because Jesus is also regarded as a prophet by Muslims, reads a statement signed by both Ms. Curry and Ms. Mercer. ''We again are very sorry.''
[New York Times, April 27, 2001]

Hardly in the same league as "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Fourth: the actions of these aid workers threaten the entire Afghan aid program, since the Taliban could expel all outside agencies, and hundreds of thousands of people could starve as the result.

Christian Aid Workers: Condemned by Colleagues

Don't take my word for it.  Here's what their fellow aid workers have said about the eight people arrested:

"These laws were well-known to everyone," said Fayaz Shah, head of the United Nations World Food Program in Kabul. "It's like walking in a minefield, and when one blows, you yell, 'Why did this happen?' But you should know. You were in a minefield."

...The potential of more arrests has left the aid agencies in fear. People say the Shelter Now episode could eventually lead to a huge withdrawal or expulsion of the agencies. That would be catastrophic for the needy.

That dreadful prospect complicates the moral judgments of aid workers who would ordinarily ache with sympathy for their jailed colleagues. As it is, commiseration often is coupled with anger. Many people here presume that the arrested foreigners were guilty of reckless proselytizing; however well-intentioned the preaching, that forbidden endeavor to save a few dozen souls has imperiled thousands of lives.

"Why did they break the law, especially this law?" asked an American who insisted on anonymity. "Worse yet, they dragged their Afghan workers into this. After some political games, the foreigners will probably be kicked out of the country as their punishment. But the Afghans, I am afraid they are going to be killed."

Just like I concluded yesterday before having read the above comments: these eight foreign aid workers acted in an incredibly stupid and reckless manner.

[article condemning the Taliban for their treatment of women]

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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