Goodness, will wonders ever end? Yesterday the Pope admits that Christianity is not the most barbaric of all creeds and finally does away with a much-cherished bit of revisionist history, today some NATO members defend a Christian convert in a Muslim country. (We reported the case on Monday.)
WOW! Don't they realise that the Muslims might get mad now and not like us anymore?
US, NATO allies defend Afghan Christian convertYeah Bishop, and good luck to you! Didn't our Literature Nobel Laureate and premier Islam-sympathiser Günter Grass suggest that we re-dedicate a Christian church and turn it into a mosque? As soon as that happens vice-versa in an Islamic country I'll say that your "trying" is "ensuring" something.
21 Mar 2006 20:38:46 GMT
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
ROME, March 21 (Reuters) - The United States and three NATO allies with troops in Afghanistan expressed concern to the Kabul government on Tuesday about reports that an Afghan convert to Christianity faced the death penalty there.
The United States, which counts Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a key ally in the region, urged religious freedom in talks with visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
"We have underscored the importance of freedom of worship, tolerance and freedom to express oneself, as a core element of democracy," said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"This is, at the moment, a legal issue for the Afghan government and we would urge the Afghan government to proceed in a fair and transparent manner."
Italy called in the Afghan ambassador in Rome, two Berlin cabinet ministers spoke out and Germany's top Catholic cardinal demanded his freedom. Canada said it was concerned and urged the Afghan government to meet its human rights obligations.
The protests present a dilemma for Karzai, who needs foreign troops to defend against al Qaeda and Taliban remnants.
An Afghan judge said on Sunday a man named Abdur Rahman had been jailed for converting from Islam to Christianity and could face the death penalty if he refused to become a Muslim again. Sharia, or Islamic law, stipulates death for apostasy.
"If this news is confirmed, Italy will move at the highest level ... to prevent something which is incompatible with the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms," an Italian Foreign Ministry statement said.
Italy's former president Francesco Cossiga wrote to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, now campaigning for reelection, and urged him to withdraw Italian troops from Afghanistan unless he wins assurances from Kabul over Rahman's safety.
"It is not acceptable that our soldiers should put themselves at risk or even sacrifice their lives for a fundamentalist, illiberal regime," Cossiga wrote.
CARDINAL URGES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
"We will do everything possible to save the life of Abdul Rahman," German Development Minister Heide Wieczorek-Zeul told the daily Bild, which said Rahman had converted to Christianity while living in Germany for nine years.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed "deep concern" and said he would also intervene if necessary. Berlin's embassy in Kabul was "in close contact with the Afghan side" on this, he told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.
Germany's top Catholic prelate, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, described the case against Rahman as "an alarming signal".
"The German Bishops' Conference solemnly demands that Christians in Afghanistan be able to practice their faith openly and freely and that conversion to Christianity must be possible without any disadvantages," he said in a statement.
"German bishops will try to ensure Christians in Islamic countries enjoy the same rights as Muslims have in our country."
By the way, how Abdur Rahman found the Christian faith and in Germany, of all places, remains a miracle to me. Let's hope and (if you are so inclined) pray that he survives to tell us more about his remarkable self.