03/29/2006, 00.00
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Afghan parliament to prevent Rahman from leaving the country

Members of parliament demand Supreme Court to justify releasing apostate. AsiaNews sources indicate that this is a way to placate public opinion roused by fundamentalists.

Kabul (AsiaNews) –Afghan parliamentarians protested today against the release of Abdul Rahman, who was charged with apostasy for converting to Christianity.

According to Yunus Qanuni, speaker of the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament, this "is contrary to the existing laws of Afghanistan" and Rahman "should not flee [. . . nor] be allowed to leave" despite offers of asylum from countries like Germany and Italy.

Qanuni said members of the Supreme Court should be summoned instead to parliament to explain and justify the man's release.

Sources in Afghanistan told AsiaNews that "the MPs took this stance to placate public opinion" after Islamic fundamentalists organised demonstrations in some cities such as that in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where a few hundred students and professors took to the streets shouting "Death to Christians". Similarly, Faiez Mohammed, a senior cleric in Kunduz, also in the north, said that "Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion". Other clerics urged their fellow Muslims to kill Rahman.

"The fact is that the government cannot stop an Afghan citizen from travelling abroad," the source said. "Staying for him is not a likely option because he cannot get any guarantees after the attempted death sentence and the threats. Moreover, his parents disavowed him."

"The UN has demanded his rights be protected, including the right to travel abroad and he has said he wants to leave."

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