While Afghan prosecutors, amid
political pressure, apparently are trying to find a
face-saving way to drop their case against a convert from
Islam by calling him 'mad,' sources close to Abdul Rahman
say that despite suffering bouts of depression, he has a
strong, genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
An aid worker who knew Rahman "very well" during her
time of service in Peshawar, Pakistan, and asked not to be
identified, told WorldNetDaily she spoke Tuesday by
telephone with the Afghan Christian's sister-in-law.
The relative, who lives in Germany, told the source
Rahman had suffered from time to time from depression
after having returned to Afghanistan from Germany in 2002
to recover two teenaged daughters who were living with his
parents in Kabul.
Also, sources for the U.S.-based Christian group
Voice of the Martyrs confirmed Rahman has experienced
depression in the past, which may "give the Afghan legal
system a face-saving way out in a case that has drawn
international attention and criticism."
Rahman's trial on the charge he violated Afghanistan's
Islamic-law code by converting to Christianity started
last week, but a state prosecutor said yesterday the
42-year-old might not be fit to stand trial.
An aide to President Hamid Karzai said Rahman would be
given a psychological examination and prosecutors will
drop the case if he's determined to be mentally unfit.
When Rahman came back to Afghanistan for his daughters
his father resisted, denouncing his son as a convert and
reporting him to police. Rahman immediately was arrested
and a Bible was found in his possession.
Hussain Andaryas told WND Rahman's clear declaration of
faith in the clip is not the action of a crazy man but a
courageous, "joyous" believer in Jesus who is inspiring
many Afghan Christians.
Rahman says in the clip, according to Andaryas: "The
punishment by hanging? I will accept it gladly, but I am
not an infidel. I am not a traitor. I am a follower of
Andaryas asked: "How can a man be mentally unfit when
he boldly says, 'I'm not an infidel and not a traitor,'
that he's a follower of Jesus not afraid to be put to
Andaryas noted Rahman's stand for faith has been a
great source of inspiration.
"I personally, in my faith, I have been encouraged just
to hear this man," he said.
The former aide worker in Pakistan who knew Rahman
affirmed he has been an encouragement to many Afghan
"We need strong people like him as an example for
others," she said.
Andaryas, who says he has the names of 6,000 Christians
in Afghanistan, is receiving e-mails throughout the day
from his home country, and most in recent days are about
Yesterday, one of his correspondents in the country
reported he interviewed Afghans on the street and many,
who are Muslims, have sympathy for Rahman, believing he
should be allowed to practice his beliefs.
Afghanistan's new constitution declares "followers of
other religions (other than Islam) are free to exercise
their faith and perform their religious rites within the
limits of the provisions of law."
But it also says "the religion of the state is the
sacred religion of Islam" and that Shariah, or Islamic,
Law is the controlling legal authority. Under Shariah, in
many Muslim countries, anyone who abandons Islam is
subject to the death penalty.
Andaryas, pointing out he is grateful to the U.S. for
liberating his country from the Taliban, said he has been
disappointed at the Bush administration's response to
Rahman's prosecution, in contrast to the approach taken by
Germany, Italy, Australia and Canada.
U.S. State Department spokesmen have said in the past
two days they are monitoring the situation and want to see
religious freedom upheld, but they have been unwilling to
condemn the process outright, saying they trust the Afghan
system to come up with the right solution.
Italy, on the other hand, has threatened to withdraw
troops and Canada, Andaryas pointed out, said it didn't
lose soldiers in Afghanistan so the new government could
"I wish our State Department could say it like that,"
President Bush yesterday said in a speech he was
"deeply troubled" that Afghanistan's "young democracy" was
trying a person for religious conversion.
"We expect them to honor the universal principle of
freedom," Bush said. "I'm troubled when I hear, deeply
troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted
away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the
universal application of the values that I talked about. I
look forward to working with the government of that
country to make sure that people are protected in their
capacity to worship."
Earlier yesterday, Afghan prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari
said of Rahman, "We think he could be mad. He is not a
normal person. He doesn't talk like a normal person."
Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to Karzai, said
Rahman will have to undergo a psychological examination.
"Doctors must examine him," he told the Associated
Press. "If he is mentally unfit, definitely Islam has no
claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be
Western observers in Afghanistan say the government is
looking for a face-saving way to drop the case in light of
the international firestorm it has caused.
Although some nations have challenged Afghanistan to
free Rahman – Italy reportedly has threatened to withdraw
its troops if the Christian convert is executed – the U.S.
has thus far responded in a cautious manner.
Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus
told WorldNetDaily U.S. officials will follow Abdul
Rahman's case closely and raise the issue with Afghan
"We believe it is important that the Afghan authorities
handle the case in a transparent manner," she said.
"Freedom of religion is fundamental to the existence of
democracy and is protected under the Afghan constitution.
It must be protected and practiced as well."
If sentenced, Rahman apparently would be the first
person punished for leaving Islam since the Taliban was
ousted by American-led forces in late 2001.