I cannot believe that the Chicago Tribune would even consider printing this.
A Muslim's conversion to Christianity is not a crime punishable by death under Islamic law, contrary to the claims in the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan.
While there is long-established doctrine that apostasy is punishable by death, that has also long been questioned by Islamic criminal justice scholars, including this writer.
There are 1.4 billion Muslims who live in more than 140 countries. They constitute the great majority in 53 countries that declare themselves to be Muslim states. Most of these states have constitutions that guarantee freedom of religion, as does the Afghani constitution. Most of these states have criminal codes that do not include apostasy as a crime. Among them are: Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
Other Muslim countries, however, criminalize apostasy on the basis of doctrinal constructs established in the 7th and 8th Centuries, which have been mildly questioned over the years or simply sidestepped. States that recognize it as a crime punishable by death include Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. However, there are no known cases in recent times in which someone charged with apostasy in these countries has been put to death.
Which means, of course, that Islamic law DOES recognize that apostasy is a crime to be punished by death -- but that the penalty has not been recently applied, has not been announced to the public when applied or -- as often happens -- has been applied by a lynch mob rather than a court.
In other words, the entire article is a falsehood from start to finish.
UPDATE: JAmes Arlandson refutes the argument made in the Tribune quite effectively. And let's not forget the position of these Afghan religious leaders. I would have to say that the position taken in the Tribune piece is a minority one -- and that of a small minority at that.