Afghan authorities are planning on releasing the man who faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity, but they will base the action on a technicality. So a showdown with the U.S. still looms.
The dismissal of a case against an Afghan citizen for converting from Islam to Christianity has saved Afghanistan’s government a damaging showdown with its primary patron, the United States. Under mounting pressure from Washington and other Western backers, President Hamid Karzai is reported to have intervened personally to have the case of Abdul Rahman, 41, who converted to Christianity 16 years ago, dismissed. But the grounds on which the case was thrown out—insufficient evidence and other technicalities, as well as questions over the sanity of the accused—do not change the basic problem that had put both Karzai and his Western backers in a tight spot.