Man faces death penalty for becoming a Christian
Monday, March 20, 2006
Despite ouster of Taliban by U.S., court still prosecutes ex-Muslim
Despite the fact the hardline Taliban regime is no longer in power, an Afghan man faces possible execution for allegedly abandoning his Islamic roots and becoming a Christian.
"Yes that's true, a man has converted to Christianity. He's being tried in one of our courts," Supreme Court judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada told the Middle East Times.
The case centers on Abdul Rahman, believed to be 41, who converted from Islam to Christianity some 16 years ago. His relatives reportedly notified authorities about the conversion.
The constitution in Afghanistan is based on Shariah law, which states any Muslim who rejects his or her religion should be sentenced to death.
"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge told the Associated Press. "It is an attack on Islam. ... The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty."
If he indeed is sentenced, Rahman would be the first person punished for leaving Islam since the Taliban was ousted by American-led forces in late 2001, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S.
Prosecutor Abdul Wasi says he offered to drop the charges if Rahman made the switch back to Islam, but the defendant is maintaining his Christian beliefs. The judge is expected to rule within two months.
About 99 percent of Afghanistan's 28 million people are Muslims, with the rest mostly Hindus.