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Worthy Christian News - Daily Christian News Service

Posted in: Afghanistan, Christian Persecution, Christian Persecution - Asia

by Stefan Bos, Worthy News Correspondent

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (Worthy News)– Afghanistan has postponed the trial of a disabled man who faces the death penalty for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity, trial observers and officials said Tuesday, November 23.

Said Musa, 45, was to appear without a lawyer Sunday, November 21, in front of a court where a judge was expected to use 'sharia', the word for Islamic law, to reach a verdict.

Officials suggested that the trial was delayed to give the court more time to study the case amid international concerns he may be executed under legislation that was introduced by the toppled Taliban regime.

The trial was still expected to begin this week.

Musa was detained in Kabul in May after footage was nationally televised of Muslim converts to Christianity being baptized. The broadcast triggered protests throughout the country and a national government crackdown against Christian converts, according to rights activists and Christians.

ISLAMIC LAW

In published remarks, Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone, said the judge will likely take Islamic law into account, despite international concerns.

"According to Afghanistan's constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict," Shenwari was quoted as saying.

Under sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.

International Christian Concern (ICC), a United States-based advocacy group, told Worthy News it was surprised about the trial as Afghanistan is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which bans executions for crimes not mentioned by national or international law.

INTERNATIONAL AID

"Millions of dollars have been invested by the international community to build Afghanistan’s judicial system by training judges, prosecutors, and others to follow Afghanistan's constitution," recalled Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East.

"The fruit of this investment, as far as religious freedom is concerned, is that an innocent man may be tried under the same Sharia law used by the Taliban," Clay added.

Last week, the U.S. State Department also said in its annual International Religious Freedom Report that "respect for religious freedom" decreased in Afghanistan in the last year, "particularly toward Christian groups and individuals."

Clay said he fears Musa will "stand before a Muslim court without representation and will likely be asked to renounce his Christian beliefs. His response to that question may determine his fate, and before a sharia court, his sentence may be death."

AFGHANISTAN EMBASSIES

He said ICC has asked its supporters to contact Afghan embassies and consulates in their countries asking Afghan officials to grant a fair trial to Said Musa, whose name is also spelled by some organizations as Sayed Mossa.

Clay stressed that ICC also demands that Musa's trial be delayed until he is given legal representation. Musa suggested in a handwritten letter carried out of his Kabul prison that so far lawyers have refused to defend him.

"Nobody [want to be my] defender before the court. When I said 'I am a Christian man', he [a potential lawyer]  immediately spat on me and abused me and mocked me…I am alone between 400 [people with] terrible values in the jail, like a sheep," Musa wrote.

He appealed to "the international church of the world and…President Brother [Barack] Obama and to the head of  [International Security Assistance Force] ISAF in Afghanistan" to rescue him from his current jail. Musa also asked Christians to pray for him.

FAMILY CONCERNS

He made clear he is concerned about those staying behind, his wife and six children.

His oldest child is eight and one is disabled as she can not speak, he wrote. Musa himself is an amputee, dependent on a prosthesis for one of his legs.

It is not the first time Christians face execution in Afghanistan. In 2006 Italy granted asylum to a Christian convert, Abdul Rahman, who faced the death penalty for "abandoning Islam."

Despite reported persecution, there may be as many as 10.000 Christian converts in heavily Islamic Afghanistan, according to some Christian rights activists. Other issued figures range from as few as 500 to 8,000 Christians in a country where openly expressing Christian views can reportedly lead to killings by officials, militants or family members.

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  • Marshall Ramsey

    If your servant has to die, Lord, so be it. I pray that you would let him die with dignity, and give him words that his enemies would not be able to gainsay nor resist, but that they may be proven, in their own courts of law, that they and their 'god' are the enemies of peace, and that it be transmitted to the world, that the whole world may know that you and you alone rule in the heavens and that you are Jehovah-shalom, The LORD, my PEACE.

  • Michael Strauss

    Every second that ticks by is a second closer to the time JESUS the CHRIST of GOD MOST HIGH will deliver His own. Every day in many nations of the world Christians are imprisoned, persecuted and harassed, even killed for their testimony of faith in the Truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of the world turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to such events. Most media organizations do not report the facts of these ongoing atrocities. But as sure as the earth turns, the entire world will witness the deliverance of the saints. What follows is darkness such as history has not yet seen. And what about you who sit on the fence, enjoying your life in complete ambivalence to what your own heart knows is the truth? For when that door shuts and you are found left behind in a place so utterly evil, the hand of every man against each other, you will know with anguish the opportunity you missed. In that day hearts will fail from fear, and many will seek death……
    Turn from sin, turn from what the world has become and call upon the only name that saves, JESUS.

  • Precious

    I strongly condemn the activity of the islamic sharia and the death sentence.if islam is a religion of peace,then let every man decide whom he will serve.religion is a thing of personal will and not forced on individuals.when you force me to worship a god,how do i worship such a god with all sincerity

  • kufre ukpong

    we are living in a world where Christians are faced with persecutions and trials, but one thing i know for sure is that God at his appointed time will deliver his own and will give his due judgment to the perpetrators.I love God and his gift of our lord Jesus Christ saviour i strive everyday to be like him and not site on the fence. Jesus is my lord and will remain that forever. Praise God.

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