March 23rd, 2006

Concern over looming death sentence in Afghanistan

The death penalty looming over Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who converted to Christianity, has also provoked outrage and incomprehension at the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “Criticizing the threat of a death sentence for Abdul Rahman has nothing to do with interfering in the internal affairs of a country, nor with Western arrogance”, said Stephan J. Kramer, General Secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“Religious autonomy in a country has limits when human rights are overridden. Besides, religious freedom is guaranteed both by the Afghan Constitution and the International Human Rights Convention. “If someone in Afghanistan is now threatened with death under Shariah law because he has taken a different religion, that is shocking and by no means acceptable.”

“In the light of this case one must ask whether the government in Kabul is capitulating before religious fundamentalists in its own country”, continued an anxious Stephan J. Kramer. “Politicians and representatives of civil groups, especially of the religions, are now called upon to do all they can to ensure that the government in Kabul puts an end to this backsliding in Afghanistan and prevents the threatened death penalty for Abdul Rahman.”

Berlin, 22 March 2006