The Trial of Abdul Rahman

When the United States and several other western nations invaded Afghanistan in 2002, the idea was to capture Osama bin Ladin and destroy his Al Quaeda terrorist organization. We also sought to dismantle the fanatically fundamentalist Taliban-dominated government which gave him and his organization sanctuary -- replacing it with some semblance of democracy. Now, some four years later, Bin Ladin remains at large, Al Quaeda-inspired terrorists have infiltrated and wreak havoc in Iraq , and in liberated Afghanistan , a man, one Abdul Rahman, now faces the death penalty for the "crime" of having decided to become a Christian.

        Understandably, Americans and other westerners who came to Afghanistan 's aid, this for the second time in a few decades -- first time was to help them get rid of the Soviets are sorely disappointed.  But should they or we be surprised?  According to the Sharia or laws of Islam, those who convert out of Islam to anything else are subject to the death penalty.  It may sound barbaric and archaic. Europeans quit executing heretics about four centuries ago although Americans, unlike Europeans and most other civilized peoples, persist in executing people for other reasons. But according to Islamic reasoning, while foreigners or those born into another religion might be tolerated, apostates from Islam like Rahman are an affront and danger to the whole community.  And given the fact Afghanistan , despite its warring tribes, is just about 100% Muslim, can we legitimately complain if they have actually voted to make such laws the standard of justice in their own country?

        There is, of course, the possibility of appealing to international law, like the UN Declaration of Human Rights.  Established in 1948, on the heels of the UN itself, these standards of conduct have been used time and time again to put pressure on governments who signed on to them, such as Soviet Russia and the Union of South Africa.  Article 18 of the Declaration explicitly says that "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his [or her] religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others in public or private, to manifest his [or her] religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."       But just try even that latter in Saudi Arabia and see where it lands you!  

        So why is it that we, whether Christians or of other persuasions in the USA and other countries don't stand up and demand that such international standards be met?  Some say it is because we are beholden to such countries for what they can give us (or sell us) like, in the case of Saudi Arabia , oil. In other instances, we're already in hock financially to giants like China .

        Unfortunately, in the case of the USA , there is another problem.   Where once we were the model as well as the chief advocate of declaring and establishing such rights as the foundation of international law, we have as of late become among the most prominent of its violators.  With our detention centers like Guantanamo and what was going on there and in such places as Abu Graid, with clear violations of Article 5 (prohibiting "torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment"), Article 9 (prohibiting "arbitrary arrest, detention, or punishment"), and Article 10 (entitling everyone "to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal") can we honestly expect the Islamic world to listen to anything we have to say on the subject?  I suspect that the best we can hope for poor Abdul Rahman is that he can escape with his life from his homeland.  But if he does and comes here to the USA he'd best change his name as well as his citizenship, or he'll probably find his phone bugged (contrary to Article 12) or be shipped right back home (contrary to Article 14) as a foreign suspect.  

R W Kropf  3/25/06                                            

Rahman.doc           661 words  06-03-25.html