Abdul Rahman is a man of faith. "I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Christ. And I am a Christian," he declared this week.
Unfortunately for Rahman, he was originally born a Muslim in Afghanistan -- and he has been forced to defend his religious conversion in his home country's court, where he now faces the death penalty for turning to Jesus. Despite the defeat of the totalitarian Taliban and the existence of a U.S.-backed "moderate" democratic government, it is a capital crime for Afghanis to openly embrace any religion other than Islam. Sharia law, embedded in the Afghan constitution, overrides its human rights provisions.
Rahman's family has denounced him as mentally ill. Afghan officials are thirsting for his blood. "We will cut him into little pieces," jail employee Hosnia Wafayosofi told the Chicago Tribune, as she "made a cutting motion with her hands."
The Tribune reported that prosecutor Abdul Wasi demanded Rahman's repentance and called him a traitor: "He is known as a microbe in society, and he should be cut off and removed from the rest of Muslim society and should be killed." The country's attorney general says Rahman should be hung. The judge handling the case, who has been photographed wielding Rahman's Bible as evidence against him, threatens: "If he doesn't regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him. And the punishment is death."
This is a watershed moment in the post-Sept. 11 world. The Taliban are out of power. And yet today, an innocent man sits in the jail of a "moderate" Muslim nation praying for his life because he owned a Bible and refuses to renounce his Christian faith. Rahman, who converted many years ago while working for a Christian aid agency in Germany, "is standing by his words," fellow jail inmate Sayad Miakel told Canada's Globe and Mail. Another cellmate, Khalylullah Safi, reported: "He keeps looking up to the sky, to God."
As of Tuesday afternoon, left-wing Amnesty International had nothing to say about the case. But neither did President Bush, a man of faith and a Christian brother. During his extensive White House press conference on the War on Terror and the defense of freedom overseas, Bush spent plenty of time describing what life was like for Afghanis before Operation Enduring Freedom: