Thursday, March 23, 2006

Perhaps they'll nail him to a cross

The fate of converted Christian Abdul Rahman remains unresolved, but pressure is intense from within Afghanistan's Islamic community to kill the former Muslim.

This, from cleric Abdul Raoulf, considered a prominent Afghani moderate (he was jailed three times for criticizing the Taliban's policies before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001):

"He (Rahman) is not mad," Raoulf said. "The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled.

"This is humiliating for Islam. ... Cut off his head."

While diplomats express some hope that Rahman will be released (due primarily to efforts from European Union countries, Germany in particular), his safety's in serious jeopardy if he remains in Afghanistan.

Senior Muslim clerics said Thursday that Rahman must be executed and if the government caves into Western pressure and frees him they will incite people to "pull him into pieces." Four senior clerics interviewed by The Associated Press in their mosques in Kabul agreed Rahman deserved to be killed for his conversion.

"He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian," said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque.

"The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed."

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