More specifically, wonders Edward Luttwak, would it matter? I’m skeptical.
His conversion … was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive)…
At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.
That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.
If it’s jihadi assassination attempts he’s worried about, I’d guess that Islamist antipathy towards the U.S. president is already pretty well maxed out. If it’s diplomatic difficulties he fears, remember that our Wahhabist friends in the Kingdom have a curious ability to lay aside their many, many prejudices in the interests of advancing their foreign policy agenda. They deal with Condi Rice despite the fact that she bears the dreaded XX chromosome of shame and they hosted Henry Kissinger when he was SoS despite his, ahem, ape/pig heritage. Also, the fact of Obama’s conversion is already “widely known” within the United States, at least, and he’s suffered no adverse consequences for it from Muslims as far as I know. Granted, American Muslims may be more tolerant than their Middle Eastern counterparts, but if it’s in the Koran you’d expect at least some opposition to him here on apostate grounds. Instead, the LA Times finds Palestinians cheering him on, secure in the belief that his pro-Zionist rhetoric is nothing more than an election year pander. To the extent that his apostasy matters at all abroad, I wonder if it might not play the same way — that he’s secretly still on the team and just telling the infidels what they need to hear to vote for him.
Exit quotation: I agree with Pipes. “On the positive side, were Obama prominently charged with apostasy, that would uniquely raise the issue of a Muslim’s right to change religion, taking a topic on the perpetual back-burner and placing it front and center, perhaps to the great future benefit of those Muslims who seek to declare themselves atheists or to convert to another religion.” Not to mention making it safe for the left to take full umbrage at this sort of fascism without worrying that they’re playing into the wingnuts’ hands.
Update: Headlines comments imported.