Italy Grants Asylum to Afghani Christian Convert

March 29, 2006

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: AP

On March 29, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "Italy granted asylum Wednesday to an Afghan man who faced the death penalty and threats for converting from Islam to Christianity, and Italian premier said the man had arrived in Italy earlier in the day. Abdul Rahman was in the care of Italy's Interior Ministry, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said. 'He is already in Italy,' he said. 'I think he arrived overnight.' The premier declined to release more details. Rahman's jailing in Afghanistan inspired an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI to Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, and efforts by the United Nations to find a country to take him. Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini had been outspoken about the case from the start, saying Italy had a duty to make clear its 'indignation.' Conversion is a crime under Afghanistan's Islamic law. Rahman, 41, was arrested last month after police discovered him with a Bible. He was brought to trial last week for converting 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan."