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A just opportunity

The court case of an Afghan Christian convert is a trial for President Karzai too

ICC Note:

The trial of Sayed Mossa scheduled for November 21 has again been postponed. The trial may be nationally televised in Afghanistan and will offer President Karzai an opportunity to distance himself from more repressive parties, such as those who called for the execution of Afghan Christians on the parliament floor at the time of Mossa’s arrest.

By Mindy Belz

11/19/2010 Afghanistan (World Magazine) – Sayed Mossa worked 15 years for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC)—largely treating landmine victims like himself—until he was rounded up on May 31 by security officers working with the Ministry of the Interior just after taking a lunch break from his work with amputees in the ICRC’s orthopedic department.

Mossa was arrested, allegedly because he is a Christian and was present in several televised videos showing Afghans praying and being baptized (see “Kill the Christians,” WORLD, June 18, 2010).

After more than five months in prison, Mossa, 45, an amputee himself, is scheduled to stand trial in Afghanistan on Sunday. His family’s requests for him to be provided legal representation have been denied. So have requests by Mossa and his family to have access to his criminal file. Last Sunday the judge refused to provide the file to a cousin of Mossa’s, leaving in question what exactly are the charges against him. Previously, on Nov. 7, Mossa appeared in court and was notified that he—along with another jailed Christian, Ahmed Shah—would not be tried for espionage but for conversion to Christianity, or apostasy, a crime punishable by death under Sharia law.

With the prospect of a public (and possibly televised) trial on Sunday, the case would seem to represent an opportunity for President Hamid Karzai to distance his government from the repressive tenor of the Taliban era and from extra-judicial proceedings more typical of an autocracy than the democracy Karzai has fought to portray himself as heading.

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