Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) The fate of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who converted to Christianity, remains in the balance, the death penalty still hanging over his head.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the issue and urged him to seek a favourable resolution to the case at the earliest possible moment.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Karzai himself reassured him as to the outcome.
Senior Afghan clerics, however, threaten street protests to have "justice" done.
"We will not allow God to be humiliated," said Abdul Raoulf, a member of the Ulemas Council, Afghanistan's main clerical organization. "We will call on the people to tear him into pieces so there's nothing left."
According to Afghan sources, thousands of young people are already converging on Kabul to demand the "apostate" be killed for renouncing Islam.
Muslim clerics don't believe that Afghanistan's constitution is an impediment. Even though Art. 7 says "The state shall abide by the UN charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights", Art 3. clearly provides that "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam."
Islam, the ulemas explain, requires that anyone who asserts the truth (i.e. Islam itself) and then rejects and denies it commits an act that can only be punished with death. Indeed, apostasy has been a capital crime ever since Muhammad's times and there is no disagreement between all Islamic schools of jurisprudence on this point.
Speaking to Asia Times Online, Ahmad Shah Ahmad Zai said that "[r]egardless of the court decision [whether or not he is hanged], there is unanimous agreement by all religious scholars from the north to the south, the east to the west of Afghanistan, that Abdul Rahman should be executed".
A former prime minister in 1996 before the rise to power of the Talebans, Ahmad Shah added that there "is widespread dissent among the masses against the activities of Christian missionaries. These missions exploit the poverty of Afghan people and pay them to convert. These activities will only translate into a fierce reaction since Afghans do not tolerate anything against their religion".
Government officials though seem inclined to have Mr Rahman undergo psychological tests in order to have him declared mentally insane and thus not punishable under the law.