It may seem odd to suggest there is a conflict between "freedom of choice" and "freedom of religion". I suspect that is because in many modern western societies, there is not much of a conflict for most people. But what about other societies? What about, say, a theocracy which requires that women be treated as chattel and suffer genital mutilation? Which freedom should dominate then: the freedom of religion among those who prefer that culture, or the freedom of choice, especially among women, to opt out of that religion?
Janet, who blogs with King at SCSU Scholars, presents the case effectively:
For those of you who are unaware, there is a definite two-tier status within Islam, one perpetrated by far too many religious practitioners. Women are literally second class humans. In many Islamic societies women cannot go outside their homes without a male escort. Others, women cannot drive, go to school, practice any sort of independence. There was this report of a 19 year old Saudi woman who was gang-raped and SHE got 200 lashes plus a prison sentence. Why? They claim she was in a car with an unrelated man.
Too many Islamic men decide that when a woman violates their view of Islam, they have the right to murder women because it is the will of Allah (their god). This is the topic covered by Mr. Jacoby. What used to occur "over there" is now occurring "here." Our response should not be a "tolerance" of silence. Any true supporter of women's rights (feminists, pay attention!!!) needs to speak out to condemn this atrocious behavior in the strongest possible terms.
Political differences aside, all women ought to be able to join together in opposition to these barbaric attitudes and behaviors.
When I wrote about this conflict several years ago, several commenters argued that freedom of religion must end when it inflicts harm on others. I suspect that many radical Islamists would not agree, or they would argue that what the victims perceive as harm to themselves is not really a harm if it is God's will.
What I'm trying to say, and not too well I fear, is that this piece by Janet demonstrates all too clearly that freedom of religion must have limitations in favour of other freedoms that I consider more important. But that's probably because I do not subscribe to a religion that severely restricts the freedoms of others.
Addendum: See this, sent to me by JM:
SAUDI ARABIA: FATHER KILLS CHRISTIAN CONVERT DAUGHTER(ANSAmed) - DUBAI, AUGUST 13 - A Saudi man, member of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has killed his daughter for converting to Christianity, the Gulf News daily reported, without providing details on the identity of the main characters in the case. Sources close to the victim said that the man had cut the tongue of his daughter and set her on fire following a heated debate on religion, the newspaper published in Dubai writes. The brother of the victim found in the woman's computer some articles on Christianity she had written on various blogs and regional websites under a nickname and the symbol of the cross. That discovery made her family life unbearable, the woman wrote on the 'Al Ukdoud' website a few days before her death. According to a testimony of a friend of the victim reported by the 'Free Copts' website, the father is arrested by the police and investigation has started against him for an "honour crime". The honour crimes, perpetrated by a male member of the family against a woman of the same clan to "wipe out the shame of the dishonour" from her indecorous behaviour, are generally punished with mild sentences ranging between six months and three years in jail. (ANSAmed).2008-08-13 12:41