What Were We Fighting For?

Four years ago President Bush announced to an exuberant America that “Kuwait is liberated.” He called Desert Storm “a victory for . . . all mankind, for the rule of law, and for what is right.” Despite the President’s speech many people wondered why our soldiers were sent to save an autocratic Middle Eastern regime. Events this week in Kuwait make that question, in retrospect, even harder to answer. Robert Hussein, a Kuwaiti convert to Christianity, is on trial in Kuwait, charged with apostasy. If convicted, the best he can hope for is the loss of his civil rights. At worst, a conviction will give any Muslim the right—some say the religious duty—to kill him. Robert Hussein first encountered Christianity while studying in the United States. He went to church and started reading the Bible. Two years ago when he returned to Kuwait he started openly calling himself a Christian. Robert chose not to hide his faith even in the midst of a hostile culture. He led Bible studies in his home and passed out Christian tracts. And like St. Paul, Robert has suffered the loss of all things for the Gospel’s sake. His wife left him and refused to let him see his children. His family disowned him and confiscated his business. They even forbade him from attending his father’s funeral. We in the Western world have enjoyed a long tradition of toleration and democracy. Not so in the Muslim world. Islam extends its overarching influence to all areas of society. Those who change their religion are seen as betraying not only Islam but also their culture, their families. For many Muslims conversion is the ultimate, unforgivable offense. That is why three Muslim lawyers have taken it upon themselves to accuse Robert of apostasy before a Kuwaiti court. They want the court “to deprive him of his civil rights, [which include] marriage to a Muslim, custody of Muslim children and inheritance.” A judge has already warned Hussein that the “Prophet Mohammed prescribed death for those who abandon the faith.” I suggest that President Clinton pick up the telephone and call the emir. The president is a Southern Baptist, and Robert Hussein is his brother in Christ. The president can tell the emir, who’s puppet regime we keep propped up, “Let my people go.” And if the emir refuses to protect Robert Hussein, Clinton might take a page from an earlier age when Pharaoh refused the same plea from Moses. But this time, instead of plagues of frogs and lice, the emir will surely be visited by the return of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army. All we have to do is withdraw our troops. Why should we spend our resources and deploy our forces to prop up a petty tyrant who persecutes Christians? We need to ask our senators, congressmen, and our president to pressure the Kuwaiti government to set Robert Hussein free. I pray that we as a nation will summon the moral fortitude to declare—as President Bush did at the beginning of the Gulf War—“this shall not stand.”


Chuck Colson


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