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March 26, 2006

Rahman Freed -- But Not Free

I think that Time gets it right here, and others may be jumping the gun in celebrating the release of Christian convert Abdul Rahman from jail.

The dismissal of a case against an Afghan citizen for converting from Islam to Christianity has saved Afghanistan's government a damaging showdown with its primary patron, the United States. Under mounting pressure from Washington and other Western backers, President Hamid Karzai is reported to have intervened personally to have the case of Abdul Rahman, 41, who converted to Christianity 16 years ago, dismissed. But the grounds on which the case was thrown out — insufficient evidence and other technicalities, as well as questions over the sanity of the accused — do not change the basic problem that had put both Karzai and his Western backers in a tight spot.

Abdul Rahman and others like him still face the possibility of being charged with apostasy for converting out of Islam, an offense that carries a penalty of death unless they renounce their new faith. While Afghanistan's constitution embraces international human rights conventions that guarantee freedom of worship, it also codifies the role of Islamic Sharia law — under which Abdul Rahman was charged. And even while Washington and NATO governments whose troops help provide security for Karzai's government had urged Kabul to drop the charges, public opinion on the streets of Afghanistan — recently inflamed by episodes such as the furor over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad — showed strong support for legal action against the convert. But Karzai, whose government's security position remains as precarious as ever, was in no position to resist Washington's demands. As President Bush put it, "We have got influence in Afghanistan, and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values."

But it was not in recognition of "universal values" that Abdul Rahman was released. Instead, authorities cited insufficient evidence, insinuations about his mental state and even questions raised by the authorities over his citizenship. The legal basis for charging someone for converting from Islam to Christianity has not, thus far, been altered — the political confict that from having U.S. troops trying to protect a government that can't guarantee the right of its citizens to choose the same faith as the President of the United States has simply been kicked down the road. Not only that, the Abdul Rahman case has alerted the Evangelical Christian base of the Republican Party to the need to press the Bush Administration on the issue, and at the same time mobilized the conservative Muslim clerical establishment and the powerful Islamist politicians in Afghanistan's coalition government to defend their Sharia code. Not surprisingly, there is speculation that Abdul Rahman may leave Afghanistan once he's out of jail.

Now ignoring all the biased, loaded language in this report, what it comes down to is this -- Rahman is to be freed based not upon a human rights violation, not upon the principle that every person has the right to choose his or her own religion free of state ceoercion, but based upon technical questions about the evidence and insinuations about his sanity. This is therefore NOT a victory for human rights or religious freedom -- it is a strategic retreat on the part of the Afghan government.

Even the ruling in this case makes it clear that Rahman could be back in prison the day after tomorrow.

An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that it had been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime, Rahman would be released.

"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 Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

"The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow," the official added. "They don't have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case."

So see -- there is still every chance of Abdul Rahman being prosecuted. Or what we might see is forbearance in this case, but the eventual execution of some other convert.

We will hear over the next few days about howinternational pressure saved Abdul Rahman, and that this is a victory for human rights. Such rhetoric will be especially common from internatioanl leaders who spoke against the possibility that Abdul Rahman would be martyred for his faith. But I think the point that many folks missed, especially world leaders (including our own President), is that it didn't take an execution for there to be a violation of human rights.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss this case.

"Upon the conclusion of the call, (Karzai) assured me that respect for human and religious rights will be fully upheld in this case," said Harper in a statement.

With all due respect to both men, human and religious rights have already been violated by the trial itself, never mind the potential death sentence.

I'll take it a step further -- the arrest itself constituted a violation of human rights.The bringing of charges constituted a violation of human rights. After all, the human right in question is not Abdul Rahman's right to life -- it is his right to choose and practice his religion freely, without government coercion or interference. I therefore remain dissatisfied with the outcome here, and fearful that the response to this bit of good news will obscure the fact that arrest, trial, and execution are the potential faith for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan who accept the REAL Good News.

But for this small victory I give thanks to God.

MORE AT: Michelle Malkin, LGF, The Anchoress, MacRanger, CoffeeSpy, Captain's Quarters, Below the Beltway, A Blog for All, Blogotional, Political Pit Bull , StrataSphere, Stop the ACLU, Ordinary Everyday Christian, John Galt Line, Most Certainly Not, Protein Wisdom, Mudville Gazzette, Jawa Report, Wizbang, Six Meat Buffet, Demonrats, Cao’s Blog, Dread Pirate Bluto, Conservative Thinking, Unpartisan, Volokh, Jihad Watch, DelawareWatch, Blogs for Bush

OPEN TRACKBACKED TO: Samantha Burns, Conservative Cat, MacBro's Place, Gospel Fiction, Comedian Jenee, NIF, Don Surber, Right Wing Nation, Colbert Report, Third World Country, Bacon Bits, Stuck On Stupid, Liberal Wrong Wing, Adam's Blog, Jo's Cafe, Real Ugly American, Blue Star Chronicles





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I thought it was pretty interesting that he was released because of lack of proof. Although the complaintents were women. His own words were that He was a follower of Christ. He does not seem to deny any anything. He was released because of political pressure from the West. It is clear that he will not be safe in his own country even if he is not prosecuted. I am betting that he stays, and gets martyred. If so I hope the rest of the world never forgets.

|| Posted by Liberty, March 26, 2006 03:32 PM ||
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