This story is surprising on many levels. Chief among them are Prince Charles’s involvement itself; second is the fact that everyone involved seems to take for granted that there is indeed a death penalty in Islam for those who leave it. There is, of course, but when was the last time you heard a Muslim in the West admit it? But ultimately the fact that the indomitable and heroic Patrick Sookhdeo was unhappy with the outcome indicates that the meeting was essentially worthless, or worse. From The Telegraph via The Age, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Prince Charles is brokering efforts to end the Muslim death penalty on converts to other faiths, it emerged yesterday.
He held a private summit of Christian and Muslim leaders at Clarence House this month to explore the centuries-old Islamic law under which apostates face persecution and even death.
His intervention follows mounting anger at the treatment in a number of Islamic states of Muslims who have converted to Christianity.
As an advocate of inter-faith dialogue, the Prince has come under pressure to criticise the religious law that, campaigners say, has resulted in hundreds of executions in countries from Iran to Sudan.
Among the Christians at the confidential meeting was an Anglican archbishop from a part of Nigeria where Islamic Sharia law is enforced.
Others included the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, and the Pakistani-born Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali.
It is believed the Muslim group, which included the Islamic scholar Zaki Badawi, cautioned the Prince and other non-Muslims against speaking publicly on the issue.
It argued that Islamic moderates could have more influence on the traditional position if the debate remained largely internal.
A member of the Christian group said on Friday that he was “very, very unhappy” about the outcome. Patrick Sookhdeo, the international director of the Barnabus Fund, which campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians abroad, stressed that he was speaking on the record only because details of the meeting had already leaked.
He urged the Prince and Muslim leaders in Britain to criticise openly the traditional Islamic law on apostasy, calling for it to be abolished throughout the world.
“My view, and I think the other Christians shared it, is that when something is wrong it must be stated as a wrong.”