Afghan testing freedom of religion

Stop Fundamentalism, March 27, 2006 – News from Afghan and international news agencies indicate the release of a man who converted from Islam to Christianity, 15 years ago, who was facing a death sentence issued by the state court in Afghanistan. 

Even after his release, the man, Abdul Rahman 41, father of two, is now condemned to leave his country and live in exile for the rest of his life.  To be free, apparently his lawyers had to claim for him to be unfit to stand trial due to mental illness.  Rahman has denied any mental issues.

The release is widely expected to end a trial that has caused international concern over freedom of religion in Afghanistan, but has also become a rallying point for Islamic hard-liners and fundamentalists.


While the international community was calling for the release of Rahman, religious leaders in Afghanistan were calling for him to be tried under Islamic sharia law, which imposes the death penalty for anyone guilty of apostasy, or "abandonment of the faith.”  Last Friday, several local Muslim leaders warned they would incite people to kill Rahman themselves if he did not return to Islam.