***scroll for updates…Video: Condi Rice thinks Afghanistan has “come a long way” because when the Taliban ruled, they “wantonly” executed people for playing music (as opposed to now, you know, where executions of people for abandoning Islam are contemplated in a much more civilized, non-wanton manner.)…Kofi Annan dodges…***
Abdul Rahman: Still not safe
Just in…But this story is far from over:
An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence, and he will be released soon, an official said.
“The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
He said the case has been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime Rahman would be released.
“The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow,” he said.
Rahman’s life remains in danger:
Some Islamic clerics had called for him to be put to death, saying Rahman would face danger from his countrymen if he were released.
Earlier Sunday he was moved to a notorious maximum-security prison outside Kabul that is also home to hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida militants. The move to Policharki Prison came after detainees threatened his life at an overcrowded police holding facility in central Kabul, a court official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Gen. Shahmir Amirpur, who is in charge of Policharki, confirmed the move and said Rahman had also been begging his guards to provide him with a Bible.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed Rahman’s case today during his Sunday blessing:
“My thoughts turn, in particular, to those communities who live in countries where there is a lack of religious freedom, or where despite claims on paper, they in truth are subjected to many restrictions,” the pontiff said as he delivered his traditional Sunday blessing from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square. “I send them my warmest encouragement to persevere in the patience and charity of Christ,” Benedict added.
BBC reports on the Christians-are-insane ploy:
Afghan Supreme Court Judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada told the BBC there is a serious question over whether Mr Rahman is mentally fit to stand trial.
According to Judge Mawlavizada, Mr Rahman appeared “disturbed”.
He said the accused man’s relatives had told the authorities he was insane and that they claimed Mr Rahman had said he heard strange voices in his head.
The judge also said it was not clear if the accused was really an Afghan or a citizen of another country. Mr Rahman has lived outside Afghanistan for 16 years and is believed to have converted to Christianity during a stay in Germany. It is because of this, the judge said, that he had asked the prosecution to examine Mr Rahman’s situation.
Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune, who has done excellent reporting on the case, captures the swelling bloodthirsty sentiments of Rahman’s countrymen:
In all likelihood, the court will declare Rahman mentally unfit to stand trial and release him, Afghan sources and Western diplomats said. But this is only a temporary fix, and it does not solve what will happen to Rahman next. Many Afghans want to kill him.
“He should be hanged in a square,” said Aqa Gul, 40, a baker.
“He should be stoned to death,” said Sayed Saber, 32, a construction worker.
Rahman was the major topic of conversation across Kabul on Friday. In a restaurant, influential leaders met with a group of young people from Panjshir province, where Rahman is from. The young men talked about what would happen if Rahman is released.
“Anything could happen–whether a big demonstration, even the possibility of killing him,” said Shojah Mostaqel, who organized the meeting. “Everyone knows what Islam says. Bush and his friends are trying to interfere in an Islamic country.”
At Pol-e-Kheshti mosque, Kabul’s largest, more than 10,000 people listened to cleric Maulavi Enayatullah Baligh talk about Rahman. They yelled, “God is great!” after Baligh said Rahman deserved death.
“If this Abdul Rahman does not come to Islam and does not repent, even if the government does not sentence him to death, then the people of Afghanistan will kill him,” said Baligh, 50, also a lecturer in Islamic law at Kabul University.
And yet it is Abdul Rahman who will be forced to undergo mental tests tomorrow, Reuters reports:
Rahman has denied he is mentally unstable but a prosecutor preparing the case him said he would be examined.
“He will undergo a medical examination tomorrow for the reported mental issue,” said the prosecutor, Zemarai, who uses only one name.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica was able to communicate with Rahman:
“I don’t want to die. But if God decides, I am ready to face up to my choices, all the way,” he was quoted as saying in Sunday’s La Repubblica newspaper.
The Italian newspaper conducted the interview by sending Rahman written questions via a human rights worker who visited him in jail outside Kabul.
Rahman said he would defend himself in court as no lawyer would want to, and that he did not want to be forced to leave Afghanistan, a possible option if he is allowed to go free.
An Afghan newspaper, the Outlook, called for Rahman’s release:
The editorial in the Outlook Afghanistan newspaper was the first public call in Afghanistan for the release of Abdur Rahman, 40, following a clamour from religious conservatives for him to be tried under Islamic law for abandoning Islam.
Afghanistan’s Western-backed government is struggling to come up with a solution to the controversy that will satisfy U.S. and other Western demands for Rahman’s release, while not angering powerful conservatives at home, who want to see him punished. “At this moment when Afghanistan needs the support of the international community to fight terrorism and carry on the rebuilding process of a ruined country, is it wise to confront the whole international community?” the newspaper asked.
“Afghanistan cannot live in isolation anymore,” it said in the editorial, which carried a headline calling for Rahman’s freedom. The newspaper is funded by a member of parliament who used to lead a faction during civil war in the 1990s.
Another cleric, Ayatullah Asife Muhseni, told a gathering of preachers and intellectuals at a Kabul hotel that the Afghan president had no right to overturn the punishment of an apostate.
He also demanded that clerics be able to question Rahman in jail to discover why he had converted to Christianity. He suggested it could have been the result of a conspiracy by Western nations or Jews.
The Anchoress asks:
Is it just me, or does it feel like a giant, cosmic gauntlet has been thrown down from on High? Like in this Lenten season, leading up to Easter, the Christian nations are being put to a test…
Must-read of the day: Andrew Bostom at The American Thinker:
Denial or obfuscation of the role played by the very essence of Islam—by Shari’a—will never remove this murderous scimitar of Damocles hanging over the heads of hapless “apostates” such as Abdul Rahman, and others, perhaps untold thousands, if not more, like him, throughout the Muslim world. And burgeoning, often irredentist Muslim populations in the West, especially Western Europe, have established de facto Islamic colonies within their host countries, punctuated by demands for local jurisdiction under Shari’a Law.
Should nothing be done to desacralize the Shari’a and divorce it entirely from the governance of civil societies, future Western generations, may face the same brutal application of Shari’a punishments for “apostasy”, or as the Danish cartoon jihad demonstrated, for “blaspheming” the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. If that frightening scenario unfolds, Westerners may be forced to experience Mr. Rahman’s current dire predicament—to paraphrase (albeit inelegantly) John Donne: “Do not ask over whom the scimitar hangs, it hangs over thee”.
Open your eyes. Buy Andrew’s book: The Legacy of Jihad.
Charles Ryder at Age of Hooper has a video reminder of the continuing dangers we face.
Today we have learned that, at least for now, the forces of repression have suffered a defeat. The line in the sand was drawn, and the sharia court blinked.
Courts–even sharia-based courts, it seems–have myriad ways of avoiding coming to certain verdicts that they wish to circumvent. In this case, the ostensible reason for the dropped case was lack of evidence. But the truth is probably that the pressure brought to bear by the West was too great, and that a guilty verdict would have damaged the fragile Karzai government.
But there’s no way to know to what extent this result also reflects moderate forces within the nation and Islam itself–because such a war is going on, and has been going on for a very long time. It’s very hard to gauge the actual numbers of the forces on each side, but it seems fairly clear that, since the Iranian revolution of the late 70s, the forces of repression have been in the ascendance. Whether or not this case represents a turning point in that process remains to be seen. But allowing for and encouraging such a turning point was one of the goals of the Afghan War.
Steyn on Rahman and Islam
What are you praying for?
The religion of pieces
Condi Rice calls Karzai
Free Abdul Rahman
Canada supports Abdul Rahman
Rally for Abdul Rahman
Bush: “Deeply troubled”
Video: “I am not an apostate”
Who will save Abdul Rahman?
“We will cut him into little pieces”
Save Abdul Rahman
A Christian on trial
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