04/04/2006, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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Blog devoted to Abdul Rahman, where Christians and Muslims can talk

As a result of the Afghan convert affaire, an online forum is set up giving Afghans, Iranians, Filipinos a chance to express solidarity, reflect upon their own religion and view Rahman as a role model. Many Muslims call for mutual respect.

Rome (AsiaNews) –  The case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who converted to Christianity and found refuge in Italy, drew attention among governments which sought to save him from certain death, among Muslims in Afghanistan who continue to demand he be executed, and among Afghan expatriates who have followed the affaire and started to ask themselves some questions.

Rahman's arrest saw the Afghan Times* flooded with e-mails about Christians in Afghanistan, asking questions and relating stories, and so it decided to set up an online forum, AfghanBlog.com, dedicated to Abdul Rahman.

Afghans from different religious backgrounds participate using aliases—some from abroad, others from Kabul. Other bloggers are Christians living in countries where religious freedom is not guaranteed.

Whilst some messages contain violent and aggressive charges against Christianity and Christians, most express a real need to go into and understand one's own faith as well as appeals by Muslims in favour of brotherhood and mutual respect. There are also some, amazed by Rahman's refusal to abjure even if it meant peril for his life (Sharia law punishes apostates with death), who show a great interest in the Bible.

An Iranian living in the US wrote in a message titled 'You can't kill the soul': "Thanks God [. . .] Now every one in the world knows…. an Afghan can be a Christian [. . .] as an iranian i am proud of my brother abdul rahman …. i pray that his faith gets stronger in this hard days" (sic).

An unnamed blogger expressed hope that Rahman may be an "example for Muslims and Christians as to how not fear to speak about one's own faith".

From France Abdul, a Muslim, writes: "Hello brothers and sisters [. . .] he [Rahman] has the right to live in peace because all Muslims want the same thing."

Amudhan, a Muslim, calls for thoughtful reflection: "Quran talks so much about Isa-Al-Massih [Jesus], why is it that the Muslim [. . .] ignore the portions of their own Holy Quran [which does not call for killing converts] (sic)?"

A blogger from the Philippines, who says he is not a believer, says never the less that he is "inspired by him [Rahman]" who "stands up for what he believes in—without violence or killing. UNLIKE the Muslim terrorists who murder hundreds every day. [. . .] If Muslims want to be respected in the world, they should also respect others. [. . .] Hatred towards others is hatred towards yourselves".

Under the pseudonym Penang, a Christian writes: "The way Abdul Rahman is treated makes me even to want to be a better Christian. My non-Christian friends also want to known more about Jesus".

From Kabul, Caleb urges fellow Afghans "[i]nstead of going to kill Rahman, let's look to Islam and research, where is the problem" (sic). The blogger adds however that many hateful statements were made local Muslim leaders against the convert, including appeals for his murder.

Finally, Jawid, who is also Muslim, asks "tell us the main thing that it changed you to christian have you ever read Quran? Is bible better than Quran for you? [. . .] is life pleasure for you after this? (sic).

* Afghan Times is an online English-language paper founded by Afghan Christians in the US so that "the voice of Afghan Christians can be heard."

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