The following letter was sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice concerning Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man on trial for his conversion to Christianity.
March 23rd, 2006
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Rice:
We are writing to express our concerns regarding reports that Mr. Abdul Rahman, an Afghan man on trial in a Kabul court, could be sentenced to death under an Islamic law that criminalizes those who reject Islam.
Mr. Rahman converted to Christianity sixteen years ago and a judge has now indicated that the punishment for exercising such a choice is the death penalty. This is a violation of Mr. Rahman’s basic freedom of conscience, and such a judicial decision will impact the freedom of all Afghan people.
Afghanistan’s constitution, Chapter I, Article II, states that followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of the law. However, it also states that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of Islam.” Afghanistan’s constitution allows for sharia law which tends to lead courts to enforce strict, all-encompassing codes of behavior on Muslims. This interpretation requires that for Muslims to remain within the limits of the law, they must accept Islam, as any contrary belief will result in a death sentence. Mr. Rahman has been charged with refusing to honor these practices and thus faces death.
Additionally, Chapter I, Article VII, of the Constitution states that Afghanistan shall abide by the UN charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sentencing a person to death for believing a certain faith clearly conflicts with Article II as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
We believe that equal treatment for people of all faiths is vital for the progression of the country of Afghanistan and its government. Especially given our role in helping to free Afghanistan from the rule of the Taliban, the U.S. government should press the government to free Mr. Rahman and dismiss the unjust charges against him. That would be a clear sign of its commitment to freedom and democracy.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
United States Senate
United States Senate