Monday, March 27, 2006
Case Dropped (For Now)  

As even many regular media outlets are noting, the dismissal of the charges against Abdul Rahman is a somewhat hollow victory, even for Rahman. According to news reports, the case was dismissed because of a lack of evidence, questions over whether he is really an Afghan citizen, and the concern that he is not mentally fit. In addition, this particular court has dropped the case, but it is put it back in the hands of the prosecutors.

For the moment, at least, Rahman does not face possible capital punishment for having converted to Christianity from Islam. The problem is that the case was not dropped because the fact that a court should take up an apostasy case is ludicrous, and on its face, the very charge of apostasy is a blatant violation of human rights. No, instead, under the pressure from many international sources, the Afghan court found a way to dismiss the case.

However, it does not mean that the case will not be taken up again once some of these issues are resolved. There seems to be quite a bit of pressure within the country to find Rahman guilty of apostasy and to have him put to death for not renouncing his conversion. In the meantime, although released from prison, he is to be examined at a hospital. There are also reports that he is to be forced to leave the country.

I, of course, have no idea whether Rahman is mentally ill or not. Reports do not seem to indicate that he is. Nonethelss, I am concerned that he may not receive a fair diagnosis. The political pressure to dismiss this case and the fact that many in Afghanistan would presume mental illness, given his conversion, do not bode well for Rahman. If he, indeed is mentally ill, it would be best if he was able to receive treatment somewhere outside of Afghanistan. (It would be good if he could get an open-minded mental health professional because there are many in that field who consider Christians to be de facto mentally ill.) And if he is not mentally ill, he will have been slandered by his own government in order for them to save face with the international community. However, if he had a legitimate grievance regarding custody, which was the event that began this whole affair, he will not be able to seek any recourse.

Naturally this incident has raised a greater debate in the U.S. regarding the military action in Afghanistan. I think that it is quite fair for citizens to question the administration regarding whether, in general, the U.S. military should be engaged in action in countries where basic human rights cannot be guaranteed. It is true, as Secretary Rice, has indicated, Afghanistan has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. And I would also agree with her argument that the changes we would like to see cannot be expected to occur overnight.

The real question is whether the U.S. should ever be involved in such countries with the hope of changing them into democracies. I certainly am not convinced that democracies will be formed after you invade a country and then try to help the people of that country form a democratic government. If the people are not ready for a democratic form of government, it simply cannot be forced upon them. In the case of Afghanistan, the concern is that without the U.S. presence over a long period of time, there is not enough support for a constitutional government that arises directly from the people. From the Afghanistan perspective, the country is just a puppet of yet another foreign power.

There are really no long term winners in this whole affair. I am glad that it looks like Abdul Rahman will not be put to death, much less tried, but his case shined the light a little closer on what is really happening in Afghanistan. The problems that the case exposed may not be so much in Afghanistan, as with a U.S. foreign policy which has unreasonable expectations.

Posted by David at 5:33 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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