Most Americans agree that our intervention in Afghanistan was justified and has been succesful. Most Americans agree that Afghans are better off now than they were under the Taliban. And most Americans were likely baffled to learn that despite our efforts and sacrifices an Afghan man faces execution because he converted from Islam to Christianity.
The trial of the Afghan Christian was news on talk shows and blogs for a few days before someone -- not a reporter but a citizen during a town-hall type meeting -- asked President Bush about it. President Bush's response was somewhat general -- it is an awkward situation for the U.S. -- but indicated that the Administration was paying attention (see this news article):
I'm troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account. That's not the universal application of the values that I talked about. I look forward to working with the government of that country to make sure that people are protected in their capacity to worship.
It was more encouraging today to learn that the United States is putting pressure on the Afghan government at the highest levels. Secretary Rice personally spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to seek "a favorable resolution at the earliest possible time." According to a State Department spokesperson:
[T]he United States stands forthrightly for principles of freedom of worship, freedom of expression, and that these are bedrock principles of democracy around the world, these are principles that are enshrined in the Afghan constitution and they're principles that are enshrined in the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
This is encouraging, but I hope even stronger statements are being made in private. In the meantime, we should be praying for the man's release. His story is one of courage. He converted several years ago while working with a Christian aid group. The prosecutor offered to drop the charges if he recanted, but the Christian refused.