Well, freedom is on the march, all right -- straight toward the gallows.
Kabul - An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death after being charged with converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under this country's Islamic shariah laws, a judge said on Sunday.
The defendant, Abdul Rahman, 41, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian, said Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada.
Rahman was charged with rejecting Islam and his trial started last Thursday.
During the one-day hearing, the defendant allegedly confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical-aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Mawlavezada said.
The judge said in an interview: "We are not against any particular religion in the world.
"But, in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law. It is an attack on Islam."
Mawlavezada said he would rule on the case within two months.
Afghanistan's constitution is based on shariah law, which states that any Muslim who rejects Islam should be sentenced to death, according to Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chair of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused.
"He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was a Christian and would always remain one," said Wasi.
"We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty."
The only reason I know about this story is because I heard about it on BBC World News in the car -- most major U.S. news outlets have ignored it. For Team Screwthepooch, this is yet another failure they hope nobody notices. It is an especially nasty poison because the folks most likely to take offense are exactly the ones who have been most resistant to reality-based thinking to date -- the fundamentalist Christians. If they get wind of this, and Bush does nothing, Shrubya's poll numbers will find a new level of political hell.
Ending Bush's reign of error will require numerous "strange bedfellows" alliances. Making a stink about this is clearly the right thing to do, but it is also good politics. This story is tailor-made to drive a wedge between the religious right and their pseudo-savior. If Bush loses the fundamentalists, he's toast.
So here's one to reach out to your God Squad friends with. Ask them if they know the government we support in Afghanistan may well start executing converts to Christianity. Ask them what they think of a President who lets such things happen.