Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Abdul Rahman...still limited coverage of the converted Christian facing death in Afghanistan

Supreme court judge Mawlavizada on March 19
holds a Bible that belongs to Abdul Rahman,
who converted from Islam to Christianity. (REUTERS)

Quite a test case. Abdul Rahman was detained two weeks ago after his relatives reported to the authorities that he'd converted to Christianity. A supreme court judge in Kabul says that Mr Rahman could be executed if he refuses to return to Islam.
Rahman left Afghanistan shortly after the birth of his daughters, now 12 and 13. He and his wife divorced. While overseas, Rahman converted to Christianity. He returned to Afghanistan about three years ago and moved back in with his father and daughters. He left for months at a time, working at a restaurant or as a security guard.

He stayed with cousins, who asked him to leave after he said he was a Christian. Eventually, Rahman moved back with his father.

Rahman's father:
"He is my son, but if a son
does not care about the dignity
of his family, the dignity
of his father, God can take him away.
You cannot make anything out of
such a son. He is useless."

Click the above for a video of Abdul Rahman courtesy of Afghan Christian News

The Financial Times:
Mr Rahman converted to Christianity when working with refugees in Pakistan 16 years ago and at his first hearing refused to renounce his faith.

The case has been complicated by the fact that Mr Rahman, now languishing in the Soviet-built Pul-i-Charki jail, is in a custody battle with his parents over his two daughters who are 13 and 14 and living in Kabul with his family.

Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada said: “He has another three days to convert back to Islam and we review the charges. Otherwise, we will have a trial and then you will see how he defends himself before we make our decision.” He said the trial could take another two months.

Supreme court judge Mawlavizada:
"We are not against any particular
religion in the world. But in
Afghanistan, this sort of thing
is against the law,"
"It is an attack on Islam."

The Daily Times in Pakistan:
WASHINGTON: The United States said on Monday it was watching closely the trial of an Afghan man who could face death for converting to Christianity in a test of religious freedom for the key US ally.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack urged the Afghan authorities to deal with the proceedings against Abdul Rahman transparently and according to the rule of law. “It’s a case that we’re following very closely,” McCormack said of Rahman’s week-old trial on charges of violating Islamic Sharia law.

“Our view certainly ... is that tolerance, freedom of worship, is an important element of any democracy,” he said. “These are issues, as Afghan democracy matures, that they are going to have to deal with increasingly.” A Supreme Court judge said he could be executed if he refused to return to Islam. If sentenced, the defendant will be the first Afghan punished for conversion since the overthrow of the Taliban. McCormack said Afghanistan, which has become a major ally in Washington’s war on the Al Qaeda terrorist network, was debating varying constitutional interpretations of religious freedom. AFP

Prosecutor, Abdul Wasi:
"He would have been forgiven
if he changed back. But he said
he was a Christian and would always remain one,"
"We are Muslims and
becoming a Christian is against our laws.
He must get the death penalty."

Here's a recent update from Reuters UK...
The United States and three NATO allies with troops in Afghanistan urged the Kabul government on Tuesday to respect the religious freedom of an Afghan convert to Christianity who faces the death penalty there.

The United States, which counts Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a key ally in the region, raised the case with visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, calling on Kabul to uphold Afghan citizens' constitutional right to choose their faith.

"We hope that the Afghan constitution is going to be upheld and in our view, if it's upheld, then of course he'll be found to be innocent," said Nicholas Burns, the State Department's third-ranked diplomat.

The always amazing Michelle Malkin asks Who will save Abdul Rahman?

Bruce Armstrong has some good commentary with "MSM (Some) Notices the Plight of Abdul Rahman"

Editorial from IndyStar.com:
Our position: Bush administration must take a strong stand against the trial of Afghan man accused of converting to Christianity.

Over the past four years, 300 U.S. troops have given their lives to drive the Taliban and al-Qaida from power in Afghanistan. Their goal wasn't only to defeat the terrorists but also to bring freedom and democracy to a land ravaged by war and oppression. The trial of Abdul Rahman is a rank insult to their memories.

Even if this one individual is declared mentally unfit to stand trial and his life spared, the underlying problem isn't going away.

neighbor Mohammed Jan:
"There is no way we
are going to allow an Afghan
to insult us by becoming Christian."

Email President Bush and ask him to intervene to save the life of Abdul Rahman.

Here is an example for inspiration:
Dear Mr. President,

You no doubt are receiving many similar petitions to intervene with the government of Afghanistan to save the life of Abdul Rahman whose only "crime" was to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. While I share the sentiments of other petitioners, these words are my own.

You yourself are a man of faith and follower of Jesus Christ and I know you must feel for the plight of your fellow Afghan brother. He has been prosecuted and sentenced to death for no reason except for the free exercise of faith and conscience in a fledgling democracy. We would expect this kind of intolerance under the old Taliban regime which was overthrown in order to make way for freedom.

I believe what is stake is more than a single life to be saved even though that alone is a worthy goal. I believe that Abdul Rahman is symbolic of the young democracy in Afghanistan which was purchased by your unflagging commitment and by the blood and treasure of our nation. We cannot as a nation under God stand by and allow an innocent man to die under a regime which we liberated for the express purpose of establishing the very freedoms which Islamic law threatens to destroy.

Mr. President, I urge you to use the powers at your disposal to bear upon President Karzai and the government of Afghanistan to save this man and to steer this nation toward democracy and away from a reestablishment of Taliban-style totalitarianism. Your fellow Americans and the world are watching to see if we who claim to love freedom have the courage of our convictions.

Thank you in advance for what you will do on this brother's behalf. I will be praying for him and for you.




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