Now we’re talking turkey, even if Howard did “stop short.” Why hasn’t George W. Bush even gone this far? From AFP, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
MELBOURNE – Australian Prime Minister John Howard expressed “disgust” on Sunday at the possible execution by Afghan authorities of a convert to Christianity and linked the man’s fate to Australia’s troop presence in Afghanistan.
“I am filled with disgust about the possibility that somebody could be executed because of their religion — it breaks every rule of tolerance,” Howard told reporters in Melbourne.
Howard has already written to Afghan President Hamid Karzai asking him to intervene and save the life of Abdul Rahman, condemned to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, and he said Sunday that his government would continue pressuring Kabul over the issue.
“I will not drop off this issue, I will not just be content to write a letter and leave it at that,” he said. “I will continue to press very, very strongly.”
Howard went on to link the case of Rahman, 41, to the deployment of Australian troops who have been fighting Afghanistan’s ousted Taleban regime, a fundamentalist Islamic militia which introduced harsh Sharia law to Afghanistan before being toppled by US-led forces in late 2001.
“I do feel very deeply about this, particularly because there are Australian soldiers risking their lives to fight the Taleban and we”re not fighting the Taleban to allow something like this to happen,” Howard said.
Howard stopped short of explicitly threatening to withdraw the troops if Rahman is executed, but a government source told AFP his comments linking the two were meant to highlight the depth of Australia’s concern over the issue.