ADL Urges Afghanistan's Karzai To Drop Death Sentence For Christian Convert
Update: Abdul Rahman was released from custody March 28 after being deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. He was granted asylum by the Italian government after his ordeal inspired an appeal from the Vatican.
New York, NY, March 24, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged President Hamid Karzai to immediately intercede to reverse the death sentence meted out to a man for converting from Islam to Christianity, saying "this alarming example of religious persecution is a step backward for a country…leaving the intolerance of the Taliban behind." The League cited the new Afghan constitution that allows for followers of other religions to freely practice their faith.
Saying they were "deeply troubled" by the case of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan man who faces the death penalty for the crime of apostasy for having converted from Islam to Christianity, Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, called on President Karzai to "take immediate steps to ensure that a death sentence against Mr. Rahman is promptly reversed."
Citing the new Afghan constitution that states, "followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law," Ms. Balser and Mr. Foxman said, "the egregious offense in today's Afghanistan" of the handing down of the death penalty to a convert from Islam to Christianity, is an "alarming example of religious persecution" and "a step backward."
ADL welcomed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's concern about the fate of Mr. Rahman and commended her for personally asking President Karzai to intercede in the case.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.