Query for Brian Whitaker: where are the hundreds protesting Abdul Rahman’s imprisonment and apostasy charge?
More evidence that the fundamental assumptions of dhimmitude are still alive and well in Afghanistan. From CNN, with thanks to all who sent this in:
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Hundreds of people protested in a northern Afghan city following reports that a man who faced a possible death penalty for converting to Christianity would be released, officials said.
About 700 Muslim clerics and others chanted “Death to Bush” and other anti-Western slogans in Mazar-e-Sharif on Monday, officials told The Associated Press.
Clerics have called for protests across Afghanistan against both the government and the West, which had pressured President Hamid Karzai’s administration to drop the case against Abdul Rahman.
On Sunday, a Western diplomat and Afghan officials close to Karzai told CNN that Rahman would be released soon.
Other sources in the Afghan judiciary said the case against Rahman had been thrown out on technical grounds and sent back to prosecutors to gather more evidence.
Those same sources said Rahman may not be released.
Karzai has been under growing international pressure to find a way to free Rahman without angering Muslim clerics who have called for him to be killed.
The Afghan Cabinet discussed the case Saturday, but results of that meeting were unknown. A government source familiar with his case said on Friday he would be released in the coming days….
“The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. AP said the official has been closely involved with the matter.
“The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow,” AP quoted the official as saying. “They don’t have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case.”
Abdul Wakil Omeri, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed to AP that the case had been dismissed because of “problems with the prosecutors’ evidence.”
He said several family members of Rahman have testified that he has mental problems.
“It is the job of the attorney general’s office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial,” he told AP.
A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said questions were now being raised as to whether Rahman would stay in Afghanistan or go into foreign exile, AP reported….
Earlier Sunday, AP quoted prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari as saying that doctors would examine Rahman on Monday to determine whether he was mentally fit to stand trial.
“It has been said that he has mental problems,” the prosecutor said. “Doctors will examine him tomorrow and will then report to us.”…
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she could not confirm that an Afghan court had dismissed the case and stressed the U.S. needs to respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan, which she called a “young democracy.”
“Unlike the Taliban, it actually has a constitution to which one can appeal,” she told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “We as Americans know in democracy, as it evolves, there are difficult issues about state and church — or, in this case, state and mosque.
“We expect that, given our own history, that we would know Afghans have to go through this evolution.”…
Yes, I remember the bad old days when converting to another religion was a federal crime. We’ve come a long way!
Rahman, 41, faces trial on charges of converting to Christianity — a death-penalty offense under Afghanistan’s constitution, which is based on Islamic law….
“We’ve been very clear with the Afghan government that it has to understand the vital importance of religious freedom to democracy,” Rice said….
Also on Sunday, AP quoted officials as saying Rahman had been moved to a notorious maximum-security prison outside Kabul that is also home to hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda militants.
Rahman was moved to Policharki Prison last week after detainees threatened his life at an overcrowded police holding facility in central Kabul, a court official said on condition of anonymity, AP reported.