Thursday is the national day of prayer – a day recognized by law since 1952. While legitimate arguments regarding religious freedom are still very much a part of the national political discussion, most agre that the United States still outweighs other nations in terms of religious tolerance and respect to faith. Given two stories in the news of late regarding religious intolerance abroad and the national day of recognition Thursday, the "Real News" panel was joined by Raymond Ibrahim of the David Horowitz Freedom Center to discuss freedom and faith.
The Kuwaiti parliament has approved the death penalty as a punishment for any Muslim who does not repent insulting God, his prophets, messengers, Prophet Mohammad's wives or the Koran, according to Bloomberg News.
“Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace and acceptance, but that doesn’t mean it should be stepped on,” lawmaker Ali al-Deqbasi told the house before the vote to add articles to Kuwait's penal code, which was passed by 40 lawmakers Thursday. Abdul Hamid Dashti, who voted against the bill, said the law “should be broadened to criminalize those who insult all beliefs and faiths.”
In Tunisia, a court has fined a TV Director for airing the Oscar nominated film Persepolis which depicts visual images of God.
“This verdict is an affront to the freedom of the press. We hoped for a straightforward acquittal on this World Press Freedom Day,” defense lawyer Abada Kefi told AFP after the charges were confirmed against his client director Nabil Karoui.
Al Arabiya News reports that violence broke out after the film was aired only two weeks before Tunisia's elections.
It’s one thing to be religious and to have faith – but is it not quite another to use that faith to oppress people via theocratic laws?
During "Real News" Thursday Amy Holmes referenced a Pew Research Center study that reveals nearly 70 percent of the world's population lives in countries with high restrictions on religion. The study's disturbing results were no surprise for Ibrahim.
"People in the West, in the United States, have a particular world view, a liberal slash secular world view," said Ibrahim. "It's only natural that they project this world view onto others......They assume that everyone has our kind of freedoms."
Buck Sexton asked what those in the media abroad can do, who know of the presence of religious intolerance but fear calling attention to it may put the lives of the oppressed in danger.
"The news, the media, needs to at least be objective, and it needs to report the truth and the reality not water it down," Ibrahim said, adding the U.S. can put restrictions on aid as a means to coerce oppressive nations to give-in to more religious freedom.
"Instead of giving Egypt, for instance, this big blank check, you let them know along with this check we don't want to see another church burned every other week."