I keep reading comments like the ones by LouLou and Ali, and I am impressed -- and yes, I will go back to those comments and more questions later. But then, I read something like this (from the AP on the CNN website)
But three Sunni preachers and a Shiite one interviewed by The Associated Press in four of Kabul's most popular mosques said they do not believe Rahman is insane.
"He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian," said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque. "The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed."
Raoulf, who is a member of the country's main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, concurred. "The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled."
"Cut off his head!" he exclaimed, sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left."
He said the only way for Rahman to survive would be for him to go into exile.
But Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest Shiite places of worship in Kabul, said Rahman must not be allowed to leave the country.
"If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can, too," he said. "We must set an example. ... He must be hanged."
The clerics said they were angry with the United States and other countries for pushing for Rahman's freedom.
"We are a small country and we welcome the help the outside world is giving us. But please don't interfere in this issue," Nasri said. "We are Muslims and these are our beliefs. This is much more important to us than all the aid the world has given us."
Afghanistan's constitution is based on Sharia law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death.
Hamidullah warned that the government would lose the support of the people if it frees Rahman, and "there will be an uprising" like the one against Soviet occupying forces in the 1980s.
"Cut off his head. Pull him to pieces. We must set an example. He must be hanged. There will be an uprising if it frees Rahman." These are not laymen, giving their impression of Islam. They are clerics, Islamic authorities. (True, from a very conservative part of the world.) And it isn't just the claim that he deserves death, but the barbarity of their words.
Words, for once, fail me.