.- Abdul Rahman was reportedly turned into Afghan authorities by his own family for becoming Christian--an act which could subject him to death according to that country’s strict Islamic laws.
Speaking in Washington yesterday, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said that while his government is largely staying out of the affair, he hoped that "through our constitutional process there will be a satisfactory result".
Mollie Zeigler, a writer for the website GetReligion, wondered today if the world body, particularly the U.S., was doing enough to see Rahman freed.
Many countries, she wrote, “seem to be officially condemning the action more than US officials have thus far. German and Italian officials have condemned the human rights violation but at press time, the only words from America’s executive branch came from the third-highest senior official at the State Department.”
Nicholas Burns, the diplomat in question said yesterday that “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.”
He added that “While we understand the complexity of a case like this and we certainly will respect the sovereignty of the Afghan authorities and the Afghan system, from an American point of view, people should be free to choose their own religion.”
Many charge that the U.S.--who recently helped establish a democratic government in Afghanistan--should, in particular, be offering stronger words of condemnation. As of press time, President Bush had made no comment on the case.
“The Bush administration”, Ziegler said, “may need to bring out a slightly bigger gun — and slightly more compelling rhetoric — if it wants to help Rahman. But why hasn’t Bush addressed the matter? And why aren’t reporters asking him about it?”
Italy’s Foreign Ministry has said that they are willing to “move at the highest level... to prevent something which is incompatible with the defense of human rights.”
According to the Times of London, Judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada, who is handling the case, said “It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulting his family by converting. In your country (Britain) two women can marry; that is very strange. In this country we have the perfect constitution, it is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished.”
Likewise, according to the BBC, Afghan prosecutor…said that “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.”
Sayad Miakhel, Rahman’s Afghan cellmate also spoke with The Times.
He told the paper that Rahman “is standing by his words; he will not become a Muslim again. He has been a Christian for over 14 years. It is what he believes in.”
Adding that none of his family had come to visit, Miakhel added, “He seems depressed. He keeps looking up to the sky, to God.”
Rahman, a father of two, told reporters last week that "They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it…but I am not a deserter and not an infidel."