Clash of civilizations update from Kabul: “Afghanistan faced growing international pressure to resolve the case of a man who could face the death penalty for converting to Christianity, but many Afghans said he should be put on trial and punished.”
From Reuters, with thanks to all who sent this in:
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan faced growing international pressure to resolve the case of a man who could face the death penalty for converting to Christianity, but many Afghans said he should be put on trial and punished.
The controversy over the man who gave up Islam threatens to drive a wedge between Afghanistan and Western countries that are ensuring its security and bankrolling its development….
Death is the punishment stipulated by sharia, or Islamic law, for apostasy. The Afghan legal system is based on a mix of civil and sharia law.
The case has sparked an outcry in North America and Europe but the clamor appeared to be only hardening the position of some Afghans.
Several clerics raised the issue during weekly sermons on Friday, and there was little sympathy for Rahman.
“We respect all religions but we don’t go into the British embassy or the American embassy to see what religion they are following,” said cleric Enayatullah Baligh at Kabul’s main mosque.
“We won’t let anyone interfere with our religion and he should be punished,” he said….
Several other countries with troops in Afghanistan, including Canada, Italy, Germany and Australia, have voiced their concern. Some foreign critics have urged that their troops be withdrawn.
The Canadian government, which has also been in contact with the Afghan president, said on Thursday Karzai had pledged that Rahman would not be executed. A presidential spokesman in Kabul declined to comment.
Analysts say they doubt the man will be executed and his case could hinge on interpretations of the country’s new constitution, which says “no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam and the values of the constitution”.
It also says Afghanistan will abide by international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines freedom of religion, and thus the freedom to change one’s religion….
Actually it doesn’t say that. It says Afghanistan respects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is not the same thing as abiding by it.
But the case is sensitive for Karzai who is seen as a modernizer but who cannot ignore the views of conservative proponents of Islamic law or appear to bow too readily to outside pressure or interfere with the judiciary….
Some Afghans believe Rahman is part of a Christian plot.
“He has been sent by Christian priests to convert others,” said Ramatullah, a trader in the southern city of Kandahar. “He has sold out his religion and should be punished.”
A cleric and member of parliament from Badakhshan province in the north said Rahman should be executed. “It would be better to get no aid or military help from the West for 100 years than accept this affront,” said Sadullah Abu Aman.
Sadullah, you got yourself a deal.