Afghan man faces death for turning to Christianity By Tim Albone, KABUL = PROSLEDIO BRANKO POPAZIVAN

 

 

 

 

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Afghan man faces death for turning to Christianity 
 
 
 
TIM ALBONETIM ALBONE 2
 
By Tim Albone, KABUL
 
 
 PROSLEDIO BRANKO POPAZIVANOV
 
danger that Islam and Muslims pose to western civilization
Van: Branko Popazivanov (brpopaz@qlink.ca)

 
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Afghan man faces death for turning to Christianity

 

By Tim Albone, KABUL

 

The judge deciding whether an Afghan man should be executed for converting to Christianity does not understand what all the fuss is about.

 

"In this country, we have [a] perfect constitution. it is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished," judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawawy Zada said in an interview yesterday. "In your country, two women can marry I think that is very strange."

 

Judge Zada, head of Kabul’s primary court, has already heard initial evidence in the case of Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old who converted to Christianity from Islam more than 14 years ago. The judge is expected to deliver his verdict within two weeks.

 

Mr. Rahman converted while in Pakistan where he worked for a Christian aid agency. He was arrested after he returned to his birthplace and tried to regain custody of his daughters,, who had been living with his parents. His family turned him in, and he was arrested with a Bible in his possession.

 

"It is a crime to convert to Christianity from Islam. He is teasing and insulting his family by converting," Judge Zada said. "The Attorney General is emphasizing he should be hung."

 

If sentenced to death, Mr. Rahman has two avenues of appeal: to the Provincial Court and to the Supreme Court. The death sentence also would need President Hamid Karzai’s approval to be carried out.

 

Prosecutor Abdul Wasi said the charge would be dropped if Mr. Rahman converted back to Islam, which he has so far refused to do.

 

Prison officials refused requests to interview Mr. Rahman, but one of his cellmates said he was resolute.

 

"He is standing by his words," said Sayad Miakel, 30. "He will not become a Muslim again."

 

Another cellmate said Mr. Rahman seemed depressed.

 

"He keeps looking up to the sky, to God," said Khalylullah Safi, 31.

 

The trial is believed to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and highlights a struggle between religious conservatives and reformists over what shape Islam should take four years after the ouster from Afghanistan of the fundamentalist Taliban regime.

 

It also reveals the friction between Islamic and statutory law.

 

Both are affirmed in the country’s draft constitution, which says Islam is the religion of Afghanistan but also mentions the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which ensures freedom of religion.

 

Afghanistan is a conservative [no it’s not if word “conservative” means someone who believes in limited government and maximum personal freedom for individuals-my commens added] Islamic country. About 99 per cent of its 28 million people are Muslim and the rest are mainly Hindu.

 

A Christian aid worker in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said there is no reliable figure for the number of Christians in the country, although it is believed to be only in the dozens or low hundreds.

 

He said few admit their faith because of fear of retribution and there are no known Afghan churches.

 

An old house in a war-wrecked suburb of Kabul serves as a Christian place of worship for expatriates. From the muddy street, the building looks like any other. Its guard, Abdul Wahid, said no Afghans go there.

 

The only other churches are believed to be inside foreign embassies or on bases used by U.S. troops or the NATO-led peacekeeping force.

 

Special to The Globe and Mail, with a report from Associated Press

 

This article appeared in The Globe and Mail, March 21, 2006 on pages A1 and A16 

 

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