UPDATE, 4:46 p.m.: President Bush has commented (too mildly, in my view) and this story is developing — Michelle Malkin has updates.
Here's what a third-string U.S. government official had to say yesterday — because my president couldn't be bothered to comment himself — to the Afghan government with regard to Abdul Rahman, who faces death if he does not renounce his Christian faith:
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns ... said the U.S. government was watching the case of Abdul Rahman closely, but added, "This case is not in the competence of the United States government. It's under the competence of the Afghan authorities."Well, isn't that special. The U.S. believes there should be no "severe penalties" and "certainly not death" for people who choose their religion. I'm relieved — aren't you?
Mr. Burns and State Department officials were clearly struggling to condemn the prosecution without causing a major break with a vital U.S. ally. Mr. Burns said the administration would demand "transparency" in the trial and noted that Afghanistan's constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens.
"While we understand the complexity of the case and certainly respect the sovereignty of the Afghan authorities, from an American point of view, people should be free to choose their religion and should not suffer any severe penalties, certainly not death, for having made a personal choice as to what religion to follow," he said.
It could be worse, I suppose; the U.S. could have been completely silent. As Michelle Malkin notes, Amnesty International, that champion of global human rights, has so far completely avoided the Rahman case.
In the meantime, Abdul Rahman, according to a fellow prisoner, is "standing by his words."
"He keeps looking up to the sky," says another cellmate, "to God."
If you're as ashamed of America's weak response to this terrible injustice as I am, call the White House and leave a message for President Bush: 202-456-1111. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Also contact your senators and your representative.
For more information on Abdul Rahman, including action tips, visit Michelle Malkin's blog and Persecution.org.