U.S.-based Becket Fund, an international law firm dedicated to the
protection of religious freedom is offering financial assistance for
Abdul Rahman, an Afghan man who converted to Christianity from Islam
and now faces a possible death sentence under that country’s Islamic
Jared L. Leland, spokesman and Legal Counsel for the group, said in a letter addressed to Rahman, care of the Afghan embassy in Washington DC, that “The right to maintain, manifest, and change one’s religious beliefs is a fundamental freedom to be protected in all corners, and at all times, throughout the world.”
He added that “The inalienable right to adopt another faith or change religious beliefs is no less fundamental than the freedom to congregate for worship or recite bedtime prayers. It’s a basic, nonnegotiable right.”
Rahman was recently turned in to authorities by his family after converting to Christianity some 14 years ago as an aid worker in neighboring Pakistan. Afghanistan’s laws make it a capital punishment to convert away from Islam.
The Becket Fund‘s letter says that “With proper advocacy on [Rahman’s] behalf, Afghanistan can and will live up to its obligations as a member of the international community at the United Nations, and protect [his] freedom to change [his] religion as guaranteed by its constitution, the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights], and the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights].”
Calling religious freedom a human right “rooted in the inherent dignity of the human person,” the letter points out that “Afghanistan’s Constitution recognizes and guarantees [him] this freedom of religion” along with international agreements to which Afghanistan is bound.
Becket Fund President and General Counsel, Anthony Picarello, Jr. said that “The international community has recognized the fundamental right to conversion, and now Afghanistan must as well.”
He vowed that his organization, which is a frequent consultant to the United Nations, would “vigorously defend Mr. Rahman and all other Afghans who face punishment for exercising their right to religious liberty.”