** FILE ** Abdul Rahman, an Afghan man who converted from Islam to Christianity, is interviewed during a hearing in Kabul on March 16, 2006 in this image made available from tv footage on Sunday, March 26, 2006. Rahman who faced execution for converting from Islam to Christianity has been released from prison in Kabul, the deputy attorney general said Tuesday March 28, 2006. (AP Photo/ Ariana Television via AP Television News) ** AFGHANISTAN OUT TV OUT **

For a little over two weeks, we have been hearing about a man who is at the middle of one of the most fundamental debates of our time. Should an individual be able to decide for himself what he will believe?

To most of us, the answer to that question is so fundamentally basic that we won’t need to respond to it. The truth is, however, many of the nations that we are now involved with either militarily or economically do not share that basic philosophical truth. Is our participation in their culture a form of stupidity on our part, or will the integration of our societies help to enlighten them?

Abdul Rahman was brought to trial after it was reported that he had converted to Christianity sixteen years ago. In Afghanistan, as in many Islamic countries, it is a capital crime to convert from Islam to any other religion. Abdul is clearly and self-admittedly guilty of this offense.

Afghanistan is in democratic limbo at the present. With one line of its young constitution stating that one will have the freedom to choose their own beliefs, it also contains the Sharia edict that any who convert from Islam must die.

The international community, including Canada and the United States, has vehemently come out against the haste in which the religious forces in Afghanistan would have liked to end Abdul’s life. President Harmid Karzai has found himself in the most unenviable position. With the religious clerics who are in charge of most of the country’s judicial system going for blood, and the international community which is preventing the evil Taliban regime from regaining control of their land demanding that Abdul be released, one need not realize the precipice on which Mr. Karzai has been placed.

Doing the only thing that could possible bring about a satisfactory close to this case, at least from our perspective, the magistrate in charge of the trial has deemed that there is insufficient evidence to continue with the trial, and cites also the belief that Mr. Rahman is unfit mentally to stand trial at this time.

Mr. Rahman has been freed while the state begins to correlate its present evidence and allegedly will seek to find new evidence in the case. From our standpoint, it is clear that the president of Afghan has interceded on behalf of the defendant.

Abdul Rahman has stated that he is not mentally ill, and that if he were to be put to death for his belief in Christ, he would be honoured. For the most part, North American Christians have been silent. At the present, it is believed that Afghan officials who are not steeped in religious hatred are desperately attempting to convince Adbul to leave the country. He needs to do that for two reasons. Firstly, if he does not he will be killed and that will lead to anarchy in his country with many dying as the international will to help the country will wane. Voters of the mostly democratic western nations helping Afghanistan will begin to back away from supporting their respective government’s desire to help this nation. Secondly, if he stays, it will place Mr. Karzai in a position in which he cannot win.

The Islamic fundamentalists are firm in their calls for the death of Abdul. They know that acceptance of any other religions will cause the easy recruitment of future citizens to be jeopardized. At present, a new generation of Muslim extremists is the law and the thought of that being undone terrifies those whose purpose it is to continue the cycle of hate.

It must also be noted that there has been no international outcry in the media. No Cindy Sheehan’s, no Brigitte Bardot’s, no Pamela Anderson’s, and no Bono. Apparently to some, Abdul doesn’t amount to a hill of harp seals. What a stark statement that makes. If only he were a homosexual illegal immigrant and not a Christian, perhaps then there would be sufficient outrage among the elite in our society who feel it is their place to speak out. Now would be a good time.

I guess Christian’s simply aren’t chic this year.

I say, God Bless Abdul, and all who find the courage to stand for what they truly know is right even in the face of certain death. I wish I had such courage.

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