By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- An Afghan Christian who was arrested in May and threatened with execution for his conversion to Christianity, was released from prison last week after aggressive international diplomacy engaged Afghanistan's government.
International Christian Concern (ICC) www.Persecution.org says that in a letter dated February 13, Said Musa described a visit by representatives of the U.S. and Italian Embassies offering him asylum.
According to the letter, after the foreign representatives left the room, Musa was visited by three Afghan officials who told him that he would be released within twenty-four hours if he wrote a statement declaring that he regretted his conversion to Christianity, ICC reported.
"I laughed and replied, 'I can't deny my Savior's name,'" Musa wrote. "Because my life is just service to Jesus Christ and my death is going to heaven [where] Jesus Christ is. I am a hundred percent ready to die. They pushed me much and much. I refused their demands." Musa was then transferred back to his prison cell.
ICC sources in Afghanistan remained hopeful that the release would occur soon. The call came on February 21 from an official from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirming that Said Musa was released and safely out of the country.
"I'm so thankful to the Lord that he is free and know it was a concerted effort on the part of so many people," said an ICC representative in Kabul.
"The Lord has allowed us to take part in this momentous event and I praise Him that it has ended with the freedom of Said Musa. Through Said's letters, he spoke publicly to the world a powerful testimony of his faith and perseverance."
In a media update, ICC says that Shoaib Assadullah, an Afghan Christian who was arrested for giving a Bible to a man who later reported him to authorities, remains behind bars.
Assadullah currently faces the same charges for apostasy that Musa was rescued from. In a letter dated February 17, and smuggled out of Qasre Shahi prison in Mazar-e-Sharif, Assadullah expressed fears that his execution is imminent.
"The court's decision is most definitely going to be the death penalty for me, because the prosecutor has accused me under the Clause 139 of the criminal code which says, 'If the crime is not cited in the criminal code, then the case has to be referred to Islamic Sharia law,'" he wrote.
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, "We cannot be more thrilled about Said Musa's release. It has been encouraging to see the international community, including churches, reporters and government officials in Europe and North America, work together for the common goal of freeing Said. Many sleepless nights, prayers and tears have paid off.
"However, the battle has not yet been won. Shoaib Assadullah is still imprisoned in northern Afghanistan and fears the death penalty. We still have a long road ahead before we witness religious freedom in Afghanistan. We must remain vigilant and keep the public and diplomatic pressure alive by continuing to shout with one voice for Shoaib Assadullah until together, we can also celebrate his release."
Until now there has been many talks behind the scenes to secure Said's release. But high-level talks involving US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives of the French and German governments have failed to move Afghan President Hamid Karzai to act on his behalf.
Said has been languishing in prison, where he has been tortured and abused, since his arrest - as part of a crackdown against converts - last May. Said is yet to stand trial and no defence lawyer will represent him. They say the case is hopeless because the prisoner refuses to renounce Christianity, or they back out after receiving death threats themselves.
Said is not the only Afghan convert to Christianity whose life is in immediate danger. Shoaib Assadullah (25) is also being held in prison and has been threatened with the death penalty for apostasy unless he returns to Islam. He was arrested last October after giving a New Testament to another Afghan.
We urge you to consider signing this online petition (http://www.barnabasfund.org/barnabas-launches-campaign-for-afghan-converts-to-christianity.html ) launched by Barnabas Fund.
The petition demands two things from the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.
1. Release Said Musa and other converts to Christianity who are being held in prison because of their faith
2. Uphold the Afghan constitution’s commitment to universal human rights, which guarantees freedom of religion, including the right to change one's faith
Dear lovely and sympathetic and kindly, sweetly, self humble, sisters and Brother,
Thank you so much of your warm clothes and nice letters, they’ve very helped me. Because of I slept in the corridor of building not inside the room, too cold and damp place it is. Now I don’t have need of anymore clothes it’s enough now for me. You letters were very very nice and useful for my faith and patience to endure hardship. Because the Lord have been told us the way of heaven is very narrow. The way of hell is very wide:
I asked of my Lord please please please - increase millions and millions of believers people around the world. Specially in my country Afghanistan. Please build churches in around 34 province of my country: Please oh my Lord Savior Christ Jesus. Save and keep all my people from miseries and sorrows, perplexcity and from Satan keep them away. Please fill all needy people with foods and clothes at houses and everything they needs-please you gave them. Please stop and finish fighting in all around the world specially in my warfare country- oh my Lord Savior and heavenly father God. Please Please Please I beg you don’t perish a hair of heads foreign people whether they’re military or civilian came to my help and keep them away from power of Satan. Oh my Savior Lord Please, Please, Please have mercy with them. Please you successes them in their enemies. And return them back without any difficulties and miseries and sorrows, always during the night and day I pray like this and ask bless for them of my savior lord Jesus Christ son of Almighty God. I want of them if any of them don’t have believe in Jesus Christ please they should realize the lights and darkness difference because of Jesus Christ is the lights of the world. He’s alive not a died man. We should believe in a live person and not believe in dead man the dead person cannot support of himself whether he’s support of others. No No No, please open your minds, eyes, and distinguish between just and unjust. He’s the right hands of God now, He has the authorities of all earth and heaven the God offered to him this Power, he’s judge of all the dead or alive too, he’s eternal food, eternal water, he loves us, loves us, love us oh people. He himself promised gave us eternal life, oh what a great joy oh what a great joy for us eternal life I believe if any person in around the world read my letter immediately believe in my savior Lord Jess Christ son of almight God.
I will the amazing thing that I saw in vision during the sleep in one night. I saw the heaven opened and saw a person his clothes like snow it’s was dazzling light his face lighting. He’s coming to me and put his hand on my shoulder and on my head told me: “be happy for I is always with you in this jail. I choosed you and you should announce my good news to the people of Afghanistan and all over the world”. On that movement I shaking and trembling with fear. I was fall down and cannot stand on my foot he gave my hands and woke up. I told him I am the worset man in the world and sinest too, please go away from me. But laughed and comfort me. I forgive you now, now you’re my son an in his environment wore many lighting men sing the song. But I do not realize their song on the movement I woke up and save myself full of sweat was my body. This is my vision I told to your oh, believers, please pray and keep your unity. Set aside your differences and tension love each other better then yourself. Please continue your sessions and praying not give up. I promise to your’s victory is with us. Please announced the good news to the other’s this our mission in this world-don’t afraid of people because our fighting now with satan we’re overcome to the satan followers. We’re soldier of Jesus Christ. He’s always with us. Please now don’t worry about my condition. He’s always with me. Be careful of kindness and sternness of our Savior Lord Jesus Christ if your do not produce good fruit he will cut you and thrown into the fire if anybody have less he will take it of him. If anybody have more, he will receive more. Please your messenger of Lord Jesus Christ to the needy people. Be careful be like snake clever be like dove announced or without harm.
I pray always for you. I ask the almighty God Father and Lord Jesus Christ he will save you from misseries and sorrows and fill your hearts with Holy Spirit and solve your daily needs and give you peace and grace and tranquil in your minds and hearts he will be your shepherds. You’re his flocks he’s shadow will never goes away from you hearts his right hand always He with you and he with your families too without him we’re nothing. Oh my Lord never let them alone. The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, oh my Lord please come soon to this world see the hardship of your believers and help with them ahmen.
Your jailed brother Syed Musa from Kabul province jail Saturday 2010-12-11
If I speak much please forgive me I’m more talkative due to I have the flaming fire in heart. It’s the good news of Lord Jesus Christ.
A blog has been started on persecution.org to keep people updated on Said Musa who is being held in Afghanistan because of his faith in Jesus. The first two letters are posted and more letters will be posted over the next few weeks. The idea is to keep awareness going on his case. The Dari translations of the letters are posted for the Afghan Church to read. Please see the blog site at: http://bit.ly/ek4htp
There is a petition for signatures also. See http://bit.ly/eN80N6 and http://bit.ly/gLxCya
Compass Direct News
A Christian in Afghanistan facing “apostasy” charges punishable by death is still without legal representation after authorities blocked a foreign lawyer’s attempt to visit him in prison, sources said. A Christian lawyer from the region who requested anonymity travelled to Kabul on behalf of Christian legal rights organization Advocates International two weeks ago to represent 45-year-old Said Musa (alternatively spelled Sayed Mossa). Authorities denied him access to Musa and to his indictment file. After several court hearing postponements, Musa appeared before a judge on Nov. 27 without prior notice. The judge sent Musa’s case file to the attorney general’s office for corrections, according to the lawyer. The prosecutor in charge of western Kabul, Din Mohammad Quraishi, said two men, Musa and Ahmad Shah, were accused of conversion to another religion, according to Agence France-Presse. But Musa’s letters from prison and other sources indicate that Shah is a government informant posing as a Christian.
Musa and Shah appeared before the judge on Nov. 27 “shackled and chained” to each other, according to a source who was present. Musa and the other sources claim Shah sent images of Christians worshiping to the country’s most popular broadcaster, Noorin TV, which aired them in May. The broadcast put in motion the events that got Musa arrested, sources said. In early June the deputy secretary of the Afghan Parliament, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, called for the execution of converts from Islam. Another Afghan Christian is in prison for his faith, sources said. Shoib Assadullah, 25, was arrested on Oct. 21 for giving a New Testament to a man who reportedly turned him in to authorities. Assadullah is in a holding jail in a district of Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan.
Our two brothers Said Musa (in Kabul) and Shoib Asadullah (in Mazar-e Sharif) who are in prison in Afghanistan for their faith in Jesus have not heard anything further about their sentences. The justice system here is so corrupt that the judges are able to take all possible chances they may have for legal representation, away from them. No Afghan lawyer is willing to represent them (those who were willing to help, were intimidated and are not available any more) and no foreign lawyer is allowed to represent an Afghan in court. The district attorney also won't let us know when the court case would be, so we don't know when to be there to at least support Said Musa who will appear in court in Kabul any day now. I think they want to prevent the news media to cover this case.
One of the expats have decided to go to the court every day to see when Said Musa is brought there from prison for a trial and she will inform the rest of us when that happens. Then we will be able to go in and give support. When this happens, I will immediately send out a kneemail message for urgent prayer.
Please pray then for the case and for the real Jesus kind of justice to be done. Whether we want to know that or not, this is about the church as body of Christ and not just one or two persons. And this is not just about the body of Christ in Afghanistan - it is about the worldwide body of believers in Jesus.
Please also read through the next article that one of our expat sisters have circulated locally among foreigners and Afghan believers. If you feel the burden, please take part:
"I wrote this to send out to everyone I know who would consider joining us in fasting. You're welcome to fwd it.
Right now the eyes of the world are on this country. We don't know when Said Musa will go to court for his trial but the penalty in this country for accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is death. There is no defense. Said Musa said he is 100% ready to give his life for Jesus because man can only kill his body not hurt his soul. He says without Jesus there is no meaning to life in this world or the afterlife. Shoib Assadullah wants us to know he is not frightened and has a strong sense of God's presence but misses reading the Word. The two men remain strong in the Lord and in the power of His might and are encouraged by your prayers for them.
In the days of King Ahasuerus, Esther called a 3 day fast of all the people because she was going to go to the king which was against the law. Like Said Musa, Esther said if she perishes, she perishes.
Reminiscent of Esther, I'm calling on followers of Jesus around the world to fast and pray 3 days for Said Musa, Shoib Assadullah and the persecuted church in Afghanistan. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Join us in fasting and praying December 10-12, 2010. Join us in being world shakers and history makers! Stand and see the deliverance of the Lord. The Lord says, "Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don't tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts." The kind of fasting we'll do frees those who are wrongly imprisoned.
"Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded of what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it."
This is one of those mails you can send to anyone who may have any interest in this. Please go ahead and do it!
Afghan Convert's Trial Rejected by Judge: Corrections Ordered
The Christian Post | December 1, 2010 | Michelle A. Vu
Posted on 01 December 2010 17:38:18 by wmfights
An Afghan judge temporarily rejected the trial of a Christian man who converted from Islam to Christianity and ordered unknown corrections to his file, according to the convert’s lawyer.
The trial of Said Musa, an amputee who had worked for the International Committee for the Red Cross, was rejected on Sept. 27, said the lawyer with Advocates International (name withheld for security reasons), who recently arrived in Afghanistan to take the case.
“We understand this to mean that the judge ordered the Attorney General to effect some correction of what is on file,” explained the lawyer, Washington-based International Christian Concern reported Monday. “In terms of Afghan law, Said is entitled to receive a copy of the indictment and to peruse the evidence, if any on file, so as to file affidavit(s) countering any damaging allegations therein. Said had not received such a document and our own inquiry at the Attorney General had no success.”
Musa, 45, was arrested in May and has since been detained. He was targeted by the government after a nationally televised broadcast by Noorin TV station showed images of Afghan Christians being baptized and worshipping. He was seen in several of the televised videos. According to AsiaNews.it, another convert by the name of Ahmad Shah, 50, was arrested and detained in June also in connection with the Noorin TV program.
Since his arrest, Musa has not been formally charged, given equal protection or legal representation. The AI lawyer has been denied the right to represent Musa in court. The lawyer, the only one so far willing to defend Musa, explained that Afghan law only allows legal representation in court for Afghan citizens by fellow citizens.
“This is indeed the law, but it is misapplied as it does not abrogate the right to consult any lawyer of your choice,” said the AI lawyer. “While we are doing all we can to see Said our brother receive a more fair trial, we believe the charges should be withdrawn altogether. The right to choose who and what to believe is the most basic of rights, after the right to life.”
ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, Aidan Clay, said his rights group is currently working to find an Afghan lawyer to defend Musa given that the government has rejected the foreign attorney.
“However, if his trial resumes before the international community intervenes, he again may be without legal representation in court,” said Clay in a statement Monday. “Afghan court officials have said that his punishment may very likely be the death sentence. It is time for the international community to condemn President Karzai’s administration for allowing a human rights violation of this magnitude to occur”
According to ICC, Musa’s case is on the meeting agenda of General David Petraeus and President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday.