While the newly freed Afghanistan says they respct freedom of religion as long as that religion is Islam. Abdul Rahman converted to Christianity 16 years ago and is in jail facing the death penalty because of it.
Abdul Rahman told his family he was a Christian. He told the neighbors, bringing shame upon his home. But then he told the police, and he could no longer be ignored.
Now, in a major test of Afghanistan’s fledgling court system, Rahman, 42, faces the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity. Prosecutors say he should die. So do his family, his jailers, even the judge. Rahman has no lawyer. Jail officials refused to let anyone see Rahman on Monday, despite permission granted by the country’s justice minister.
“We will cut him into little pieces,” said Hosnia Wafayosofi, who works at the jail, as she made a cutting motion with her hands. “There’s no need to see him…”
…Prosecutor Abdul Wasi said Rahman had been told repeatedly to repent and come back to Islam, but Rahman refused. Wasi called Rahman 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,” Wasi told the court.
Rahman said he had surrendered himself to God. “I believe in the holy spirit,” he said. “I believe in Christ. And I am a Christian.”
Judge Ansarullah Mawlawizada, who is handling the case, said he normally takes two months to decide on cases. But because this case is so serious, he expected to hold another hearing within the next week and make a decision.
Mawlawizada, who kept Rahman’s green Bible on his desk, said he respected all religions. He emphasized that he did not favor the aggressiveness of the Taliban, who cut the hands and feet off criminals in a soccer stadium. But he said Rahman had to repent.
“If he doesn’t regret his conversion, the punishment will be enforced on him,” the judge said. “And the punishment is death.”