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March 27, 2006

Rahman Case Has Its Upsides

The question of what "religious freedom" means to the Afghan government is still on the front burner. President Karzai is inserting himself into the situation. Diplomacy seems to be doing the job. It's not over yet (in the linked article, the clerics warn of an uprising if Abdul Rahman, a converted Christian, is not executed), but things seem to be getting better little by little. I see some political good in this situation, as the government and the people are being forced to debate the religious freedom issue. Hopefully, they'll take some cues from the countries that liberated them

From my perspective, there is another upside. Afghans are more curious about Christianity.

An Afghan Christian leader in the U.S. has welcomed reports that criminal charges may be dropped against an Afghan convert who was threatened with execution for refusing to return to Islam. The case has prompted strong international condemnation.

Hussain Andaryas said the publicity surrounding the Abdul Rahman case had resulted in a surge of interest in Christianity among Afghans, strong concern for the plight of Afghanistan's underground Christians -- and an antagonistic response from Muslims.


Andaryas runs a collection of Christian websites in Afghanistan's Dari-Persian tongue as well as daily radio programs and a weekly television program.

He is in daily contact with individuals in his homeland, and has been reporting for several years about the risks faced by Afghan Christians -- all converts from Islam and thus considered apostates worthy of death, according to Islamic law (shari'a).

He said the websites typically drew about 300 unique visitors every month, but since the Rahman story emerged had attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The number of emails received also has risen enormously, and 13 people are now tasked with responding to them.

The majority of emails are negative and many are abusive, coming from Muslims who felt that Rahman and other apostates -- including Andaryas himself -- should be severely punished.

But there also are many messages of support, he said.

And then there are emails coming from Afghans wanting to know more about Christianity, asking where they can get a Bible in the Dari or Pashto language, or sharing the news that they had become believers in Jesus Christ.

Among the most stirring messages are those from Afghan Muslims marveling about a faith for which a man was willing to die and wanting to study the Bible further.

"I strongly believe God is using this situation for His glory," Andaryas said. "One man's bold step has shaken the world."

While I don't wish persecution on anyone, the threat of death to Rahman plays well into God's hand. Keep this man and the other Afghan Christians in your prayers.

Posted by Doug at March 27, 2006 01:30 PM

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Tracked on March 28, 2006 06:49 AM


Yeah, the newfound curiosity is an upside. But God help them to have wisdom in how they express it.

A bigger issue is how the U.S. chooses its allies. As Afghanistan isn't the only U.S.-allied government where Muslim converts to Christianity are threatened with execution.

Saudi Arabia neither permits conversion from Islam nor allows other religions in the kingdom. There are no churches and missionaries are barred. Saudi Arabia considers Sharia the law of the land, which considers conversion to any religion apostasy and the punishment is death.

In Kuwait, a court convicted a Shiite Muslim man who publicly proclaimed his conversion to Christianity, but didn't sentence him since the criminal code did not set a punishment.

Egypt does not have laws criminalizing apostasy, but those who do convert can still face prosecution.

There are exceptions. In strongly secular Turkey, a convert can walk into a Demographic Records office, sign a declaration saying they have converted from Islam to Christianity and leave an hour later with a new identity card reflecting the change. While Islam is the religion of 99 percent of Turkey's 71 million people, it has no official religion.

In Israel, the state has laws against missionary activities among Jews, but it does not punish converts.

In Tunisia and Algeria, the Islamic authorities take a dim view of conversion but the secular governments do not prohibit it and it does occur.

Ironically, IRAQ was the most tolerant country is the region as far as allowing Christians and other faiths to operate according to their beliefs. But unfortunately that has all changed now.

Posted by: Grant at March 27, 2006 08:57 PM

There is a deep hunger in that area of the world to hear the Gospel.

I pray that no backlashes will occur for the Karzai government and for the new Christian converts and those who are curious about the faith. The government is still gaining stable legs to keep afloat and the balancing act obviously will be tough for the next year or so.

This part of the world needs a whole lot of prayer.

Posted by: Traveler at March 29, 2006 06:13 PM

God brings some unexpected events which may seems
like a cruel game, but God in His ultimate plan will bring glory for His Kingdom.

Since the Hindu fanaticals began to torture the
minority Christians in India, the number of non-
christians coming to Christ has exploded, especially from the Hindu community. According to the latest report, about 17000 people are coming to Christ in India every day. Hindus began to notice, why the Christians are being persecuted and they began to seek more of Jesus and Bible, and finally they are finding the truth.

Likewise, Rahiman's arrest and the ruthless law
of Islam to butcher him for his new faith in
Jesus caught world attention. And most of the
Muslims may not know this law, and they will they
will ponder the matter and will seek more of Jesus and His teachings of mercy and forgiveness.

Thousands of young people are believers in the
northern part of India in Kashmir, where the
Muslim terrorists were doing some of the most
inhuman things in the name of religion.

The whole world will know more about Jesus, and
millions of people from other religions will come to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
The so called christians must do one thing, they must try to live their best in Christian way of
life, like in morality, truth, compassion and in peace.

Posted by: A. S. Matehw at April 1, 2006 09:43 AM