What do you think of the Abdul Rahman situation?
It's different over here in the Middle East. In Jordan, it is forbidden by law to accept converts, in the sense that the religion and the state do not allow Muslims to become Christians. When people are converted, it has to be clandestine--it has to remain a secret. You cannot practice in public.
In other Arab countries, it's only maybe in Lebanon where it's possible, since they do have a lot of Christians there. There, it's possible to live one's life as a Christian.
Converts usually have to find their way to some other country. In Jordan and Syria, where I've worked a lot, it's not easy--it has to remain clandestine, or else someone may be killed. Even his nearest relatives might kill the person. It's terribly strict over here.
Is it different for people who are born Christian and live in the Middle East?
That's different. They do respect someone who is Christian originally. But for people who convert from Islam to Christianity, it's very dangerous.
Is there a peaceful and practical way to protect converts in Muslim countries?
Even here in Jordan, where the rulers are to some extent open-minded, it's hard to do it in practice. They might want to, but there's lots of opposition from the Muslim public. It's not allowed. The people at large are not ready for it. There is a widespread animosity towards conversion.
Have you ever met a convert from Islam to Christianity?
I might see it in a marriage where a woman who's Christian is married to a Muslim. If the marriage breaks up, the children remain Muslim. If they are separated from their Muslim father and stay with their mother, they might want to practice Christianity.
There's an Indian woman, a Christian, here in Jordan. She was married to a Muslim. The marriage broke up. Her son, who is not so young, is interested [in Christianity], but he cannot practice at all. He might come every long while to a religious service, but he cannot really practice. People from the father's side might cause trouble if they knew about it.
A lot has to be done before anything can be solved. You cannot change people easily, especially when Muslim traditions are part of the picture. Christians in Western countries can't change the general public [in the Middle East].