Originally published in The Courant
This Muslim American was outraged to hear that the Iranian government sentenced Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini to prison for eight years merely for preaching Christianity. The Quran condemns this action. In a remarkable verse, it states that “there is no compulsion in matters of faith, because right is distinct from wrong (2:257).”
If the Iranian mullahs accept this statement, they should have no problem allowing other faiths to express themselves. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad did just that: while serving as mayor of the city of Medina, for example, he welcomed Jews, Christians, or any other religious group for that matter, to discuss or even debate their faith freely.
Even basic common sense goes against imprisoning people for preaching. How would a Muslim in a non-Muslim country, say in America, feel if his or her faith leader were imprisoned for calling people to Islam? Thus, to Muslims worldwide — let us speak out against religious intolerance. And to Iran — for God’s sake, please release the pastor.