At a recent dinner party, the death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim for the crime of apostasyby a Sudanese Islamic court came up as a topic of discussion. Not surprisingly, the progressive elements of the group did their best to defend Islam, claiming that her sentence to die by hanging was handed down by religious fanatics (not Muslim fanatics) who don’t understand the peaceful nature of Islam.
With my wife by my side, I firmly disagreed with them, stating that my three years’ experience working in the Middle East has taught me that Meriam’s hanging sentence fits perfectly well within the Islamic culture. To further my point, I mentioned a past interaction I had with a group of Sudanese Muslims who wanted to kill my wife for leaving Islam.
This event occurred a few years ago while I was working as an ESL instructor in a Saudi Arabian University. Many of my colleagues were Sudanese Muslims and my first impression of them was very positive. I admired them because they were hardworking and forward looking. They were in Saudi Arabia to earn enough money to either start a family, buy a home, or invest in a business. For many months, we shared stories regarding our families and dreams.
Knowing that I have a Thai wife who remained in Thailand while I worked in Saudi Arabia, my Sudanese co-workers would regularly ask me why I didn’t bring her to live with me in Saudi Arabia, to which I always responded, “She doesn’t like the idea of wearing the hijab in the Saudi heat nor the idea of remaining in our apartment all day while I am at work.”
To that, they would reply, “She must live that way in Saudi Arabia; that is our culture,” to which I responded, “She doesn’t like that aspect of this culture which is why she refuses to move to Saudi Arabia.”
One day, to get them of my back for good regarding that issue, I told them the whole truth about my wife not moving to Saudi Arabia. I confided in them that my wife was a Muslim and that she converted to Buddhism in her early twenties, years before I met her, and that Saudi Arabia could be dangerous for her.
Considering these men my friends, I was hoping they would be understanding and change the topic of conversation. After a long minute of silence, one of Sudanese looked at me and said, “Your wife must be put to death!”
I could not believe that the man whose desk was in front of mine and with whom I had numerous great conversations would say that to my face. So, I burst out laughing and said, “You can’t be serious!” to which he replied, “Our culture requires us to kill her.”
While this exchange went on for another minute, I noticed that the other six Sudanese teachers remained very quiet. I wondered whether they agreed or not with their colleague. The next morning, my question was answered. While shaking hands with all my co-teachers, I refused to shake the hand of the Sudanese who threatened my wife. He felt insulted and was furious, so I said, “How can I shake the hand of a man who wants to kill my wife.”
He replied: “But they all think like me—so why do you shake their hands.”
I responded: “They were smart enough not to say it to my face, but in your defense, you are the most honest among them.”
They stared at me in shock and awe and from that time, I rarely spoke to them. A month later, my contract was over and I left Saudi Arabia. From Saudi Arabia, I moved to another Muslim country and asked a female co-worker if the country would be safe for my wife because she left Islam.
She looked at me and said, “Do not bring your wife here.”
After finishing my story, I looked at the progressives at the dinner party and said, “That is what Muslims do to apostates because it is their religious duty to do so. My friendship with my Sudanese co-workers meant nothing to them once they found out my wife left Islam. So Meriam’s verdict and eventual hanging, if the West does not interfere, should come as no surprise to anyone who understands Islam.”
They looked at me with infuriating eyes. I dared to break their PC rules regarding Islam and they couldn’t fight back with my wife, a potential victim, by my side.