As one ponders the fate of Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor on death row for refusing to renounce Christianity, it is well to reflect that, for all the talk that Islam is perpetually "misunderstood," it is actually immensely predictable and consistent; not only do its patterns cross time and space, but their manifestations are often identical.
Consider: Muslims have no qualms proudly declaring the particulars of their religion for all and sundry to hear—no matter how absurd or how it reflects on them or Islam. Thus talk about the legitimacy of adult "breast feeding," pedophilia as marriage, insistence that the earth is flat, commands not to yawn (lest Satan flies down one's throat), the salutary effects of drinking prophet urine, the need to execute the "infidel" Mickey Mouse, and any number of other oddities and perversities are regularly evoked by Islam's sheikhs and clerics throughout the Muslim world.
There is, of course, one caveat: whenever Islam is vulnerable vis-à-vis the international infidel, as it is today, caution is called for regarding the declaration of those things that might backfire, things that might make Islam look like a threat—things that might incline other civilizations to go on a preemptive offensive, while they have the advantage.
Jihad is a perfect example. Despite the fact that "holy war" to conquer infidel territories and spread Islamic hegemony is an ironclad aspect of the religion—an integral part of its history, its doctrines, its very being—Muslims are careful not to evoke it around infidels.
Even Islamist organizations, including al-Qaeda, while regularly pontificating to fellow Muslims about how Islam demands the subjugation of non-Muslims—simply because they are infidels—always back-peddle when communicating with the West, opting instead to use language and paradigms that comport with Western sensibilities.
It is in this manner that many in the West have come to believe Islam's nonstop aggression around the globe is a byproduct of "grievances," of "Zionism," of U.S. "foreign policy," of anything and everything, not Islam.
Now consider how this identical pattern—Muslims proudly displaying Islam's particulars, only to deny them once they become counterproductive—has played out in the Iranian Christian pastor saga:
First, Iran's Supreme Court made it unequivocally clear that apostasy is punishable by death. Why shouldn't it? All legitimate schools of Islamic law—including Shia—mandate death for the apostate, in accordance with their prophet's command: "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, kill him."
Then, to the chagrin of Iran's government, which likely expected to get away with its barbarities unnoticed, the Western mainstream media actually picked up the story, resulting in widespread condemnation from Western politicians, many highlighting Iran's hypocrisy, thereby undermining its constant calls for "justice" and "humanitarianism" in its attempt to demonize Israel.
So what did the taqiyya masters of Shia Iran do? In the face of all the documented evidence otherwise, they decided to change the whole story, to use language intelligible to the West: now the pastor is supposedly being executed because he is a "Zionist traitor," a "rapist" and "extortionist," a "brothel owner," etc.—all epithets Iran knows will resonate with the West.
Of course, none of these charges exist in Iran's Supreme Court ruling, which clearly and unequivocally asserts that pastor Yousef Nadarkhani
Thus, just like all the other Muslims who boldly and proudly declare the things of Islam, except of course when counterproductive to Islam's wellbeing, those in Iran who unashamedly sought to execute a man in accordance to Islam's apostasy laws, once exposed, cringed and dissembled, as usual: lack of religious freedom, like jihad, is equally codified in Sharia, and equally detested in the West.
For anyone following the patterns of Islamic behavior, this is all too predictable—almost as predictable as the fact that many wishful thinkers in the West will happily accept Iran's lies, simply to validate their own worldview, despite all the evidence otherwise.
Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam specialist and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.