Death could await Christian convert
U.S. lawmaker: Christian-conversion prosecution 'outrageous'
Tuesday, March 21, 2006; Posted: 10:31 p.m. EST (03:31 GMT) WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the days of the Taliban, those promoting Christianity in Afghanistan could be arrested and those converting from Islam could be tortured and publicly executed. That was supposed to change after U.S.-led forces ousted the oppressive, fundamentalist regime, but the case of 41-year-old Abdul Rahman has many Western nations wondering if Afghanistan is regressing.
Rahman, a father of two, was arrested last week and is now awaiting trial for rejecting Islam. He told local police, whom he approached on an unrelated matter, that he had converted to Christianity. Reports say he was carrying a Bible at the time.
"They want to sentence me to death, and I accept it," Rahman told reporters last week, "but I am not a deserter and not an infidel."
The Afghan constitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, says that apostates can receive the death penalty. (Watch how Rahman's case could cast doubts on Afghanistan's commitment to democracy -- 1:17)
The U.S. has 23,000 troops in the country; Germany has 2,700. Canada has 2,300 stationed there, and Italy has 1,775, according to Reuters.
All four nations have expressed displeasure over the situation, some even saying that it is intolerable that soldiers of all faiths die to protect a country threatening to kill its own for converting to Christianity.
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga wrote a letter to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, urging him to withdraw Italian troops from Afghanistan unless Kabul guarantees Rahman's safety, Reuters reported.
"It is not acceptable that our soldiers should put themselves at risk or even sacrifice their lives for a fundamentalist, illiberal regime," Cossiga wrote.
I heard this on NPR on the drive home after work, and boy did it grind my gears. I want to fly over there and crack skulls. The fact that this little blurb about the death penalty for rejectors of Islam, made it into the Afghan constitution, is astonishing and sad. After all of the death, destruction, crippling, maiming, widows and orphans created by decades of fighting, it was believed that the quality if life in Afghanistan was on the up and up. What repulsive thinking on the part of Afghani lawmakers. What a myopic view of the world. Okay I'm a little behind the curve here, and admit that I didn't know that the Afghan constitution was based upon Sharia Law. What a waste! Newsflash- Afghanistan had the chance to be an emerging democracy, and Islamic Law is the reason why it remains a third world back-water country. Once a pickle, always a pickle, I guess. -AT