Thursday, March 23, 2006

How nobly medieval

The judge in the Abdul Rahman case says he will resist international pressure in the case, in which Rahman faces death for the "crime" of converting from Islam to Christianity.

How nobly medieval of him. But rather than direct international pressure at that chucklehead, I'd direct it at Afghan President Hamid Karzai. And this is why:

Prosecutors have described Mr. Rahman as a "microbe" and said conversion is illegal under Islamic law. Conservative Afghan religious leaders dominate the country's courts and prosecutorial offices, but Afghanistan's American-backed constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

This seems as good a time as any to find out if the Afghan government can and will enforce its own constitution.

Karzai has been dodging the issue for quite some time:

In the past, President Karzai has defused clashes with conservative judges by failing to implement their rulings or striking closed-door compromises with them. Mr. Rahman's case has attracted far more attention than others and sparked vocal complaints from American Christian groups.

I realize Karzai is in a difficult position. And he may lack the power to force the judges to obey the real law instead of Islamic law. But real democracies don't cut deals over rights guaranteed in their constitutions.

As I wrote in my previous post, four years after the Taliban fell Karzai is still not much more than the glorified mayor of Kabul. Shouldn't he be extending his influence, both geographically and within the institutions of government? Shouldn't we have more progress to show for our efforts?

Makes you wonder what we might have achieved in Afghanistan if we hadn't bailed out to go invade Iraq.

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