Friday, March 24, 2006

Anti-conversion Prosecution in Afghanistan

Afghanistan's image in the international community as a budding democracy is being damaged by news that an attorney general in Afghanistan is demanding the death penalty for Abdul Rahman, a man who converted from Islam to Christianity over ten years ago.

According to The Times of London, 3/21/06, the trail judge in the case has already commented that such conversion is a crime. The Afghan Penal Code of 1976 does allow the death penalty for apostasy from Islam.

But Rahman's case is not legally hopeless. The new Afghan constitution provides that Afghanistan shall abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration provides in Article 18 that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." So under the Afghan Constitution Rahman should be released.

Some would say that the Afghan constitution also says no law can be contrary to Islam, and that this clause cancels the Declaration clause. But, not all Isamic law scholars would agree that that Islamic law requires converts to be killed as opposed to advising that converts be killed. In other words, the Penal Code could be waived by the constitution without the waiver being against Islamic law as understood by moderates. Pray that the moderate view prevails and that Afghanistan's courts will follow the Golden Rule and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and allow religious freedom in their country.

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