Thursday, March 23, 2006



The latest...

The Washington Times weighs in.

Tony Perkins has an open letter to President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the respective foreign affairs committee chairmen, over at Human Events:

On behalf of Family Research Council and the families we represent, thank you for your work in helping Afghanistan establish a genuine democracy. We also want to express our deep concern about reports that an Afghanistan citizen, Abdul Rahman, faces the prospect of the death penalty for converting to Christianity. According to press reports, Abdul became a Christian years ago, and during a custody dispute over his children was charged with converting to Christianity from Islam. Reports claim he is on trial and the prosecutor is seeking a death sentence. This trial belies any idea that Afghanistan, under its constitution, is committed to fundamental human rights. Such a trial is a flagrant violation of Article 18 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights—to which Article 7 of the Afghan Constitution mandates state adherence.

We believe that efforts to guarantee fundamental rights cannot be separated from freedom of religion. The action taken by Judge Ansarullah Mawlavizada has been condemned by numerous groups, and not just by Christian organizations. Prosecuting Adbul for converting to Christianity is wrong per se. In addition, allowing this trial to continue, and potentially to sentence Adbul to death, will confirm in the minds of radicals in that country that religious minorities are not protected by the Afghan Constitution. The potential devastation for religious freedom and other fundamental rights is staggering, not only in Afghanistan but in the broader Middle East as well.

The decision to topple the Taliban from power was just, and American and allied forces have died to achieve that goal. We are fighting now to defeat state-sponsored terrorism and surely that must mean we oppose state-practiced terrorism against its own citizens. The most recent reports that Abdul Rahman may be found unfit for trial due to mental illness do not alleviate our concern. The substitution of Soviet-style psychiatric repression for a more lethal form may be only death by slow-motion.

We ask you to redouble your efforts to ensure that Afghanistan guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms for every one of its citizens. We ask that you do everything in your power to protect the life of Abdul and all who choose to follow their own conscience.

Concerned Women for America:

Concerned Women for America (CWA) urges the Primary Court in Afghanistan to free Abdul Rahman, a man who has been charged with the death penalty for converting to Christianity.

“Americans have another opportunity to ensure that freedom is secure for Afghans,” said Wendy Wright, CWA’s President. “We pray that Afghanistan’s leaders will recognize that religious freedom is fundamental to a stable society.

“Abdul Rahman, along with every other Afghan citizen, deserves freedom of religion. The Bush administration issued an appeal yesterday requesting that Afghanistan allow this man to practice his faith in his country. Hopefully Afghanistan’s leaders will heed this appeal and recognize that democracy must be based on freedom if it is to succeed.

“The ruling of this case is pivotal in that it will set a precedent for all that follow. Abdul Rahman’s life is on trial and religious freedom for Afghanistan hangs in the balance. We offer our respect and admiration to Mr. Rahman for his courage. His unwavering conviction to take a stand for Christ is an example to us all. We call on Afghanistan to spare this man’s life and ensure all Afghans can enjoy religious liberty.

The United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) “expressed grave concern about the situation facing Abdul Rahman.” Commission Chairman Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) stated, “I urge the Government of Afghanistan to abide by the international principles enshrined in its constitution and for the prosecutor to drop the charges against Mr. Rahman.”

Don't forget the rally for Abdul Rahman tomorrow in D.C. E-mail or track back if you're planning an event in your neighborhood.

Friday March 24
Noon to 1pm
Outside the Afghan Embassy
2341 Wyoming Ave NW.
Washington DC

More action items at Freedom's Zone.

Reader L.F. e-mails:

You should know that I just called the Afghan Embassy to register my disapproval (to put it mildly) about the Abdul Rahman case. I told the operator that I wanted to speak to someone about the case, and they put me through to a phone which, after ringing for a bit, brought me a recorded message that began: "This is Joshua Gross, the Public Relations Officer" of the Afghanistan Embassy. (An American accent.) Mr. Gross went on to say that if I was calling about Abdul Rahman, I should know that the embassy had received many phone calls about this case, and that they were working to resolve the situation, that there were currently investigations into Rahman's mental health that might resolve the situation, that they would see to it that the Afghan Constitution was followed, etc etc. It provided an email address,, for press inquiries, and the general embassy email address for all others. No ability to get through to an actual person.


On the prospect of Rahman being diagnosed as mentally ill, John S. Ford, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has a must-read post:

To me this is a very disturbing story. It seems that the provisional Afghan government is trying to find a manageable way out of a terrible public relations nightmare.

Apparently, their decision to prosecute a muslim for the crime of converting to Christianity has provoked worldwide revulsion. There is an obvious perception that their catastrophic disregard for religious freedom exposes the Afghani government as primitive and backwards.

Psychiatry to the rescue. As during many dark times in world history, a government is seeking respite through the misapplication and manipulation of science.

Rather than upset their constituency, the Afghani prosecution has engaged in the age-old deception of diagnosing mental illness when it serves the state's purposes. They have raised the possibility that the accused, Abdul Rahman, is insane and can therefore not be prosecuted under Islamic law.

How convenient.

Afghanistan avoids the global firestorm they've caused by executing someone for creating an affront to Islam. At the same time they evidence a facade of civility by refusing to prosecute this "poor" mentally impaired man.

To even imagine that this highly dubious notion will be adequately examined and that an accurate picture of his true psychological profile will be brought to light is laughable. Whether it's Afghanistan trying to defuse a political liability or the Soviet Union or China claiming that dissident political views constitute mental illness worthy of commitment, this perversion of science is wrong.

Everyone within the healing professions should decry this blatantly transparent abuse of the mental health discipline.

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