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Friday, March 24, 2006

Muslim clerics call for execution of Christian convert in Afghanistan
Lisl Brunner at 7:43 AM ET

[JURIST] Leading Muslim clerics have urged that Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] ignore international pressure and execute Abdul Rahman [JURIST report] for converting from Islam to Christianity. "The people will kill him if he is freed," declared the chief cleric of a Kabul mosque, and Abdul Raoulf, chief of the Afghan Ulama Council added that "we will call on the people to pull him to pieces." The 41-year-old former medical aid worker faces the death penalty [JURIST report] if convicted of apostasy under Afghanistan's Islamic sharia laws [CFR backgrounder], and it is unclear whether he has a lawyer. An Afghan Supreme Court judge said on Thursday that Afghan courts will not bow to international pressure [JURIST report] after Condoleezza Rice telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile] to ask for a "favorable resolution."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Amnesty International have also called on Karzai to ensure that Rahman is not executed [AI statement]. Rahman is believed to have lived in Germany for nine years and worked as a medical aid provider for an international Christian group. "This is much more important to us than all the aid the world has given us," claimed Said Mirhossain Nasri, a cleric at one of the largest Shiite places of worship in Kabul. AP has more.

4:51 PM ET - An Afghan government official said Friday that Rahman would be released in the coming days and that a top-level meeting on the situation is scheduled for Saturday. AFP has more.

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