Afghan Christian averts death for apostasy as Italy grants asylum

American Muslims insist death for apostates not mandated
After a week of intense lobbying by Western governments for his release, Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity, arrived in Italy, where he received political asylum.

Religious conservatives who have supported President Bush and the U.S. military presence and the push for democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq had expressed dismay over signs that religious freedoms are untenable in those overwhelmingly Muslim countries.

Despite the opinions of some U.S.-based Muslim scholars that Islam does not require a death sentence for Muslims who become Christians, the force of popular sentiment in Afghanistan made it unlikely that Rahman, 41, would have been safe after his release by a court late last month.


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