Im just wondering if this is what george bush, thinks democracy will bring to the middleeast. Already, in a democratic afghanistan, a man is being tried for converting to chritianity. This isnt the taliban, but a democratically elected government. Wow is creating democracy in the middle east grand. Top Muslim clerics: Convert must die Religious leaders urge courts to ignore West, hang Christian Friday, March 24, 2006; Posted: 12:24 a.m. EST (05:24 GMT) Television footage shows Abdul Rahman being interviewed last week during a hearing in Kabul. Image: NY Film Academy: Learn Filmmaking Hands-on filmmaking at an innovative, dynamic film school. www.nyfa.com Mortgage Rates Near Record Lows $145,000 mortgage for $484 per month. Refinance while rates are still low. www.lowermybills.com Feed a Child - Help Many Your donation of $30 gives hope to the millions that need food now. www.worldvision.org More Useful Links â¢ Women's Apparel â¢ Discount Travel â¢ Sporting Goods WATCH Browse/Search Testing the new Afghanistan (1:17) RELATED â¢ Democracy no guarantor of rights â¢ Convert could face death YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS Afghanistan Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Taliban or Create Your Own Manage Alerts | What Is This? KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Senior Muslim clerics are demanding that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to "pull him into pieces." In an unusual move, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned President Hamid Karzai on Thursday seeking a "favorable resolution" of the case of Abdul Rahman. The 41-year-old former medical aid worker faces the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws for becoming a Christian. His trial has fired passions in this conservative Muslim nation and highlighted a conflict of values between Afghanistan and its Western backers. "Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001. The trial, which began last week, has caused an international outcry. U.S. President George W. Bush has said he is "deeply troubled" by the case and expects Afghanistan to "honor the universal principle of freedom." (Watch how Rahman's case troubles the West -- 1:17) Rice spokesman Sean McCormack said she told Karzai it is important for the Afghan people to know that freedom of religion is observed in their country. Her direct appeal to a foreign leader in a judicial proceeding in their own country was unusual. But in deference to the country's sovereignty, Rice evidently did not demand specifically that the trial be halted and the defendant released. "This is clearly an Afghan decision," McCormack said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters she had received assurances from Karzai in a telephone call that Rahman would not be sentenced to death. Diplomats have said the Afghan government is searching for a way to drop the case. On Wednesday, authorities said Rahman is suspected of being mentally ill and would undergo psychological examinations to see whether he is fit to stand trial. But three Sunni preachers and a Shiite one interviewed by The Associated Press in four of Kabul's most popular mosques said they do not believe Rahman is insane. "He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian," said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque. "The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed." Raoulf, who is a member of the country's main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, concurred. "The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled." "Cut off his head!" he exclaimed, sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left." He said the only way for Rahman to survive would be for him to go into exile. But Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest Shiite places of worship in Kabul, said Rahman must not be allowed to leave the country. "If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can, too," he said. "We must set an example. ... He must be hanged." The clerics said they were angry with the United States and other countries for pushing for Rahman's freedom. "We are a small country and we welcome the help the outside world is giving us. But please don't interfere in this issue," Nasri said. "We are Muslims and these are our beliefs. This is much more important to us than all the aid the world has given us." Afghanistan's constitution is based on Sharia law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death. Hamidullah warned that the government would lose the support of the people if it frees Rahman, and "there will be an uprising" like the one against Soviet occupying forces in the 1980s. Human rights group Amnesty International said if Rahman has been detained solely for his religious beliefs, he would be a "prisoner of conscience" and that the charges should be dropped. Rahman is believed to have lived in Germany for nine years after converting to Christianity while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He returned to Kabul in 2002. It was not immediately clear when Rahman's trial would resume. Authorities have barred attempts by the AP to see him and he is not believed to have a lawyer.