The time has come for a choice. If there is incompatibility between human rights and the rights set out in the Koran, then – I’m sorry to say – the Koran must be condemned; or else it must be said that our understanding of the Koran puts us against human rights and freedom of conscience, and so the interpretation must change. One thing is certain: we can no longer keep silent. The European bishops decided in recent days to dedicate the forthcoming year to studying the problems of Islam in Europe and Islam in the world, relations of European Union countries with Muslim-majority countries, from the perspective of international justice and reciprocity. But if European countries keep silent, reciprocity can never be requested.
Muslims alone cannot change anything. If Afghanistan were an isolated country, with no relations with the West, Abdul Rahman would have been killed. Muslims with a profound awareness of human rights are a minority. The Egyptian branch of Amnesty International, for example, publishes two monthly magazines in Arabic, but it not able to counterbalance the fundamentalist trend. It is necessary that the international community intervenes with external pressure. In the case of human rights, it is by no means a question of intrusion. It is necessary to arrive at serious measures: exclusion from the U.N. of those who do not respect the Charter on human rights, economic boycotts, etc. Perhaps, with a boycott, certain countries could initially take any even harder line, but in the long run countries and hundreds of millions of people could be saved from terrible oppression.
The human rights problem in the Islamic world is not tied only to apostasy.