US presses for Christian's rights in Afghanistan

Published on Mar 22, 2006 11:09 AM IST

The US has pressed Afghanistan to observe the religious rights of an Afghan man converted to Christianity.

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None | ByPress Trust of India, Washington

The United States has pressed Afghanistan to observe the religious rights of an Afghan man facing a possible death sentence for converting to Christianity.

"We believe in universal freedoms and freedom of religion is one of them. But I should also note more particularly as regards this case, that the Afghan constitution as we understand it also provides for freedom of religion," said Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, speaking to journalists.

"While ... We certainly respect the sovereignty of the Afghan authorities and the Afghan system, from an American point of view, people should be free to choose their own religion."

The death penalty trial of the accused man, Abdul Rahman, has sparked an international outcry since he was detained two weeks ago, after his relatives reported his conversion to Christianity to the police.

A judge with the country's Supreme Court said he could be executed if he refused to return to Islam.

While the United States supports freedom of religion in Afghanistan, Burns suggested that Washington would not try to impose its will in the controversial case.

"This is a case that is not under the competence of the United States. It is under the competence of the Afghan authorities," Burns said.

"We hope that the Afghan constitution is going to be upheld and in our view if it is upheld, he will be found to be innocent.

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