Mar 22, 2006

Christian convert is crazy

Looks like the Afghan government has found a way out of its conundrum regarding Christian convert Abdul Rahman: They declared him unfit for trial.
But prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari said questions have been raised about his mental fitness.

"We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person," he told The Associated Press.

Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai, said Rahman would undergo a psychological examination.

"Doctors must examine him," he said. "If he is mentally unfit, definitely Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped."


A Western diplomat in Kabul and a human rights advocate — both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter — said the government was desperately searching for a way to drop the case because of the reaction it has caused.
I'm all for a little hypocrisy if it will save the guy's life, but I'm confused about the law in this case. The AP story says Afghanistan is ruled by Sharia law:
which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death. The state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has called for Rahman to be punished, arguing he clearly violated Islamic law.

The case has received widespread attention in Afghanistan where many people are demanding Rahman be severely punished.

"For 30 years, we have fought religious wars in this country and there is no way we are going to allow an Afghan to insult us by becoming Christian," said Mohammed Jan, 38, who lives opposite Rahman's father, Abdul Manan, in Kabul. "This has brought so much shame."

But Brian Whitaker says that the Afghan constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Which is it? Furthermore, Whitaker cites the Koran which says "There is no compulsion in religion." This case offers a textbook example of the need for separation of church and state in a democracy.

I've always wondered why anybody cares about anybody else's religion. It's axiomatic that if you follow a certain religion, you think it's better--more true--than any other religion. You might also think that those who don't follow your religion will spend eternity in hell. But, clearly, that's not your decision. If someone else wants to risk eternal hellfire, what's it to you?

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