Berlusconi said yesterday that Abdul Rahman, 41, whose case made
headlines worldwide, was in the care of the Interior Ministry after
arriving in Italy earlier in the day, reported the Associated Press.
Rahman’s case was dismissed on a technicality but many still feared for his life once released.
XVI had appealed on Rahman’s behalf to Afghanistan President Hamid
Karzai and the United Nations had made efforts to find a country to
Afghanistan's Parliament had demanded earlier Wednesday that the government prevent Rahman from fleeing the country.
Italy has close
ties with Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s former king, Mohammed Zaher Shah,
lived with his family in exile in Rome for 30 years. They returned to
Kabul after the fall of the Taliban regime. Italian troops were sent
into Afghanistan to help with reconstruction, after the U.S.-led
invasion of the country in 2001.
in Afghanistan condemned Rahman's release, saying it was a "betrayal of
Islam," and threatened to incite violent protests.
According to the
AP, Abdulrahman Jan, the top cleric in Zabul province, said the
government should either force Rahman to convert back to Islam or kill
him. "This is a terrible thing and a major shame for Afghanistan," he
reportedly said. The cleric had met with about 500 other people in a
mosque to criticize the government’s release of Rahman.
has granted asylum to a Christian who faced the death penalty in his
native country of Afghanistan for having converted from Islam 16 years
ago. Conversion is a crime under Afghanistan's Islamic law. He was
arrested after police discovered him with a Bible.