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Death Sentence for Afghan Christian Shows Hollowness of Bush's Democracy

Reported by Judy - March 22, 2006

Nothing gets Fox News' dander up like a persecuted Christian, but what happens when the persecuting is coming from a brand spanking new democracy that their pet president has enshrined? Fuzzy journalism, that's what happens.

The "Dayside" couple Juliet Huddy and Mike Jerrick on Tuesday (March 21, 2006) tried to deal with the case of Abdul Rahman, a 41-year-old Afghani who faces death because he converted to Christianity. Jerrick correctly pointed out that capital punishment for rejecting Islam is permitted under the constitution of the "government we helped put in place" to replace the Taliban.

The guest on "Dayside" for the segment was Rahul Manchanda, an international attorney, who did his best to muddy the waters about whose fault the death sentence is. Manchanda kept repeating that the U.S.-backed Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, opposes the death sentence for such cases but his hands are tied because he can't change the judiciary. "You cannot change the judiciary if they've got these old world beliefs," he said, comparing it to the inability of an American president to override the judiciary.

But the case should come as no surprise to Americans. The Constitution that the Bush administration has been bragging about as a great step forward for the Middle East is founded on Islamic law. According to Juan Cole, author of the "Informed Comment" blog, that constitution made Islam the official religion of Afghanistan. In August 2005, Cole quoted from the Afghan constitution:

"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

We the people of Afghanistan:
1. With firm faith in God Almighty and relying on His lawful mercy, and Believing in the Sacred religion of Islam . . .
3. While acknowledging the sacrifices and the historic struggles, rightful Jehad and just resistance of all people of Afghanistan, and respecting the high position of the martyrs for the freedom of Afghanistan . . .

"Chapter I The State

"Article 1 [Islamic Republic]
Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.

"Article 2 [Religions]
(1) The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam
(2) Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.

"Article 3 [Law and Religion]
In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam . . . "

So while the Bush administration was telling Americans that Afghan was a democracy, what they weren't saying was that it was a democracy with no protections for minority rights -- sort of the same kind of democracy they would like to install here at home, just pure majority rule. where those with the most votes run rough shod over their opponents.

Sure, article 2 says followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith, but only "within the limits of the provisions of law." And "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam," according to Article 3, otherwise known as Catch-22.

Bush was so anxious to prove that he had installed a "democracy" in Afghanistan that he has never paid much attention to the details. When people have questioned the success of this new democracy, Bush has resorted to phony claims that his critics don't believe people in the Middle East are capable of self-government.

The Afghan Constitution is important because it points to one of the great ironies of the way the Bush administration has handled the situation in Iraq. The Shiites in Iraq would just as soon install an Islamic republic since they do not believe the world can be divided into separate civil and religious spheres. The Sunnis, who were the supporters of Saddam Hussein, are more secular in their approach to government.

So what does Bush do while supposedly trying to install a democracy in Iraq? He tosses all the Sunnis out of power, throws his lot in with those who want a religious regime, and then claims he has been the midwife for another new democracy.

No wonder Sunnis are furious at Bush. In the name of democrracy, he is trying to force on them a government that will be based on a religious sect that fails to safeguard their rights. I wonder if Bush even understands what he has done.

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