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Karzai says rights will be upheld in convert case

Written by: Staff

OTTAWA, Mar 22 (Reuters) Afghan President Hamid Karzai assured Canada today that respect for human and religious rights would ''be fully upheld'' in the case of a man facing execution for converting to Christianity, Ottawa said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had called Karzai to express his ''deep concerns'' after an Afghan judge said Abdur Rahman, jailed for converting from Islam to Christianity, could face the death penalty if he refused to become a Muslim again.

''Upon the conclusion of the call, he (Karzai) assured me that respect for human and religious rights will be fully upheld in this case,'' Harper said in a statement.

Canada has 2,500 troops in the southern city of Kandahar and commands a NATO mission there.

The Raham case is sensitive for Karzai, who depends on foreign troops to battle militants but also has to consider the views of conservative proponents of Islamic law.

Reuters DH VP0255

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