Sharia Death Sentence

[COMMENT: The good news is that the Bush administration is at last considering the possibility that Islam has some inherent defects.  Allah (the Arabic word for God) has no defects, but the Islamic view of Mohammed betrays and insults the honor of God.    E. Fox]


AFGHANISTAN     21 March 2006

AFGHAN CHRISTIAN FACES DEATH SENTENCE IF HE WILL NOT RETURN TO ISLAM

Abdul Rahman (41) converted from Islam to Christianity at least 14 years
ago.  He is now on trial in Kabul charged with rejecting Islam.  The
prosecutor says that if he returns to Islam the charges will be dropped,
but if he is found guilty he will be executed: “We are Muslims and becoming
a Christian is against our laws.  He must get the death penalty.”  The
judge has also stated that Mr Rahman faces the death penalty if he refuses
to revert to Islam as shari‘a [Islamic law] proposes capital punishment for
any Muslim who converts to another religion.

Abdul Rahman was denounced to the police last month by his family, with
whom he was in dispute over the custody of his two daughters.  He has
refused to renounce his faith, despite the threat of execution.  He is
being held in Kabul Central Prison, one of 50 prisoners in a cell built for
15.  Most prisoners have food brought to them by their families, but Mr
Rahman’s family do not visit him.

AFGHANISTAN’S CONSTITUTION

The death sentence for adult male Muslims who abandon their faith is agreed
by all schools of shari‘a.  Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution states that “no
law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of
Islam” (Article 3) thus affirming that apostasy from Islam is punishable by
death.  On the other hand, the constitution’s preamble affirms that the
people of Afghanistan will respect the United Nations Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, which in Article 18 guarantees the freedom to change one’s
religion. 

Non-Muslim Afghans who have never been Muslims have a measure of freedom in
that they are permitted to “exercise their faith and perform their
religious rites within the limits of the provisions of the law” (Article
2).  This applies to Afghan Hindus, Sikhs and the one remaining member of
Afghanistan’s Jewish community.  But it does not apply to Afghan Christians
(or other non-Muslims) who have chosen to convert from Islam. [1]

A TEST CASE

The trial of Abdul Rahman is the first of its kind since the fall of the
Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001.  In 2004 five Afghan converts from
Christianity were murdered either for apostasy from Islam or for spreading
their faith.  It is reported that other converts who have been formally
charged by the authorities have renounced their faith in the face of the
death penalty.  This means that Abdul Rahman’s case is the first time that
Afghanistan’s ambiguous constitution will be tested.  It will set a
precedent for the treatment of other converts from Islam to Christianity.


The judge of the Primary Court has said he will rule on the case within two
months.  If found guilty, Abdul Rahman will be able to appeal to the
Provincial Court and the Supreme Court.  The execution order would have to
be signed by President Hamid Karzai.

WRITE TO YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE

Please write to your elected representative to ask for urgent
representations to be made to the Afghan government on behalf of Abdul
Rahman.  Point out that the Afghan constitution says that Afghanistan will
respect the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which
guarantees the freedom to change one’s faith.  However if Abdul Rahman is
sentenced to death this would be a clear violation of the Declaration.
Point out that Christians and those of other faiths throughout the world
can freely convert to Islam without fear of punishment, and ask for
reciprocal freedom to be given to Afghanistan’s Muslims who want to leave
their faith.  Urge that implementing the Islamic law of apostasy, with its
death sentence for adult male Muslims who convert to another religion, is
unacceptable in the twenty-first century. 

It is most effective to be polite, brief and use your own words.  If you do
not know who your elected representative is or how to contact him or her,
please refer to the Right to Justice website [2] which sets out information
for those in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

OUTRAGE THAT IS LONG OVERDUE

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, comments,
“This case is rightly causing outrage in the West.  What I would like to
emphasise is that the death sentence for apostasy is part of mainstream
Islam and always has been since the seventh century.  In three of the
schools of shari‘a it is applied to women apostates as well as to men.  An
outpouring of indignation and protest on this issue from those who enjoy
religious liberty in the West is long overdue.  I call on political leaders
and church leaders to take up the cause of Muslims who choose to embrace
another faith.  To pretend that freedom of conscience is not an issue in
our modern world is a scandalous evasion of moral responsibility.  In the
face of Abdul Rahman’s plight, those who have for a long time refused to
accept the implications of Islam’s apostasy law can surely do so no longer.


“Islam is a religion which is very active in seeking to make converts.  It
MUST change and learn to grant freedom to Muslims to convert to another
faith without penalty.  In the twenty-first century Islam can no longer
continue to be a one-way street, which people may enter but can never
leave.  

“The kind of injustice which Abdul Rahman is suffering is one of the
principle reasons for Barnabas Fund’s new campaign “The Right to Justice”.
I urge Christians and all people of goodwill to sign our petition which
calls for justice for Christian minorities [2]. Then please write to your
MP, congressman or other elected representative about his case.  Please
pass this message on to as many people as you can.  And please pray.”

PRAYER ITEMS

* Pray that Abdul Rahman will be strengthened and comforted by the Lord
Jesus and that his faith will not waver.  As an apostate from Islam he is
likely to be facing abuse from the Muslims he shares a crowded prison cell
with.  It is not known how he is eating, as his family will not bring him
food.  The prison authorities will not allow him access to the Western
press who want to interview him.

* Pray that, despite pressure from Islamic extremists, Abdul Rahman will
not be sentenced to death, and that this precedent will allow other Afghan
converts from Islam to Christianity to live freely and safely in their
homeland.

LINKS
FOR THE FULL TEXT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF AFGHANISTAN IN ENGLISH
[1] - http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/af00000_.html

BARNABAS FUND'S CAMPAIGN "THE RIGHT TO JUSTICE"
[2] - http://www.righttojustice.org

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