Faith: March 2006 Archives

Here's an interesting idea from National Review's editorial about the situation of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan citizen who has been charged with a capital crime for converting from Islam to Christianity.

It is important that, while we push for justice in the case, we don’t play into the hands of [Afghan President] Karzai's enemies, who are eager to capitalize on the fears of a very traditional society. We should make it clear privately, but very firmly to Karzai — who would have to sign Rahman's death warrant — that we expect him to find some Afghan way to short-circuit the case before it ever gets to that point.

From a Washington Times story, I get the impression that such a way has been found:

But prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari said questions have been raised about [Rahman's] mental fitness.

"We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person," he told The Associated Press.

Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai, said Mr. Rahman would undergo a psychological examination.

"Doctors must examine him," he said. "If he is mentally unfit, definitely Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped."

Over on the Religion of Peace? blog, there's a comparison of American, German, Italian, and Canadian official responses to Rahman's prosecution. America looks pretty squishy compared to the more forceful responses of Germany and Italy.

On a related topic, the Nail Yale blog notices an irony in a 2001 editorial cartoon by Jim Borgman, who proposed terrorizing the Taliban by giving Afghan women scholarships to Yale. Instead, Yale is admitting a Taliban official as a special student.

I'll let others wrangle over the implications of this for American foreign policy. For now, what matters is that a brother in Christ named Abdur Rahman is under arrest in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to Christianity. If he refuses to deny Christ and turn back to Islam, the prosecutor intends to seek the death penalty.

Stacy Harp at Christian Persecution Blog is tracking the story. The latest update has links to stories about the situation and to an online petition asking for President Bush to intervene.

This Reuters story says that Afghan officials in the US are hearing from our government and from the American people in support of Rahman and religious freedom.

In a related story, LifeSite reports that the Canadian government rarely to grants asylum to Egyptian Coptic Christians who have suffered physical persecution in their home country.

The Washington Times has more details:

A Kabul court confirmed Sunday that Mr. Rahman, 41, was facing a death sentence under Islamic Shariah law for converting to Christianity. The conversion, which happened 16 years ago when Mr. Rahman was employed by a Christian aid organization in Pakistan, came to light during a custody battle over his two children. ...

But [Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah] insisted that the case was a legal one involving Mr. Rahman and his family.

"The government of Afghanistan has nothing to do with it," he said.

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Islamic Shariah law, which many argue forbids Muslims to convert to any other faith. The Afghan judiciary is considered a bastion of conservative orthodoxy, largely unreformed despite the ouster of the Taliban more than four years ago.

Prosecutor Abdul Wasi told the Associated Press that the capital case against Mr. Rahman would be dropped -- if the defendant would convert back to Islam.

"We are Muslims, and becoming a Christian is against our laws," Mr. Wasi said.

"He must get the death penalty."

Dawn Eden wrote about this story early Monday morning, linking to this story in The Times (London). There are details here that contradict Mr. Abdullah's claim that the matter is beyond the reach of the Afghan central government:

If Judge Zada, who is head of the Primary Court, passes the death penalty under Afghan law, Mr Rahman still has two avenues of appeal, the Provincial Court and the Supreme Court. The death penalty then has to be ratified by President Hamid Karzai....

Repeated request for an interview with Mr Rahman were rejected by prison officials who said the Justice Ministry had threatened to sack them if an interview was granted.

Pray for Judge Zada, for Abdul Wasi, the prosecutor, and for the other officials involved in Rahman's trial and imprisonment, all the way up to President Karzai.

Pray for Abdur Rahman, not only for spiritual grace, but for his physical needs. Food is spartan, and while other prisoners receive food from family, none of his family has been to visit -- not surprising as it was his parents who reported him to the police.

Chris Arsenault, a commenter on The Dawn Patrol entry, offers this prayer:

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit moves American Christian soldiers in the units in Afghanistan to visit Mr. Rahman in prison. I'm talking units, large numbers of units, visiting him, or even requesting to visit him. Like a non-stop number of visitors with food and translators. If his Christian brothers visited him continually, even if they can't speak, you will see tears in the eyes of all the other prisoners, maybe even in the eyes of the administrators and judges and lives will be transformed. It starts by Christians contacting Christians.

According to this Financial Times story, Rahman is being held at Pul-i-Charki jail in Kabul. There were riots at the prison a month ago.

Pray, too, for all followers of Christ in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan entry from the prayer guidebook Operation World predates 9/11 and the war against the Taliban, but here is how it suggests for praying for Christians in Afghanistan:

Though there is no visible church in Afghanistan, the number of Afghan believers is increasing in urban and some remote rural areas. Because of fear and suspicion, many believers find it difficult to meet in groups. Some find help and encouragement through Christian radio programmes in the main languages of Afghanistan. The Taliban religious police are active in seeking out ‘converts’ who are considered apostates. Pray for their protection, consistency of faith and clarity of witness whenever opportunity arises. Pray also that the small fellowships (many are family groups) of Afghan Christians that have come into being in South Asia, Europe and North America may become bold witnesses for Christ.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from March 2006.

Faith: February 2006 is the previous archive.

Faith: May 2006 is the next archive.

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