faces a possible death penalty for converting to Christianity 16 years
ago. He has been charged with rejecting Islam, which is considered a
crime under the country's Islamic laws. Rahman is expected to undergo a
psychological examination. The trial will be dropped if he is found
Bush said Wednesday he is “deeply troubled … that a person who
converted away from Islam may be held to account.”
"We expect them
[Afghanistan government] to honor the universal principle of freedom,"
Bush reportedly said, having requested the man’s release one day
earlier. "I look forward to working with the government of that country
to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship."
The Embassy of
Afghanistan in the U.S. said it has received a significant number of
inquiries about Rahman’s case and greatly appreciates the public
of Afghanistan is fully aware of and pursuing the best ways to resolve
Mr. Rahman’s case judicially,” said an embassy statement, released
yesterday. “It is too early to draw any conclusion about the
punishment, and we appreciate public understanding of the sensitivity
of religious issues.
Constitution of Afghanistan provides protection for freedom of
religion,” the embassy statement underlined. “The Government of
Afghanistan will ensure that the constitutional rights of its citizens,
international principles, and the due judicial process are respected
assurances, however, have not abated the calls for Rahman’s release
from religious and human rights groups. “Abdul Rahman, along with every
other Afghan citizen, deserves freedom of religion,” said Concerned
Women of America president Wendy Wright.
that the ruling in this case would set a precedent for what will follow
in the budding democracy of Afghanistan. “We call on Afghanistan to
spare this man’s life and ensure all Afghans can enjoy religious
liberty,” she said. She also commended Rahman for his religious
conviction in the face of adversity, calling him “an example to us
In a letter to
President Bush, Christian Freedom International also called for
Rahman’s immediate release and indicated that his “is not an isolated
of Christians is an increasing, unintended consequence of the War on
Terror,” said Christian Freedom International president Jim Jacobson.
Rahman’s case is
just “the tip of the iceberg,” said Jacobson. “There are thousands of
other persecuted Christians in Islamic nations just like him. Becoming
a Christian should not be considered a crime in Afghanistan or
The Council on
American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties advocacy group
based in Washington, also urged Afghanistan to release Rahman.
today in the New York Times called Afghanistan’s move to try and
declare Rahman “mentally unfit” a “cheap trick” which would merely
avoid the international mess and keep the Islamic law on the books
increasing number of groups and governments are calling on Afghanistan
to honor the universal human right to religious practice and to release
Abdul Rahman, who is being tried in an Afghan court for having
converted to Christianity from Islam.