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Death sentences feared for Afghan converts

U.S., 4 other nations appealing to Karzai to save ex-Muslims

ICC Note:

“Five countries are appealing to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to prevent two Afghan men who converted to Christianity from being sentenced to death for… their decisions to abandon Islam,” reports World Net Daily.

By Michael Carl

1/13/2011 Afghanistan (World Net Daily) – Five countries are appealing to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to prevent two Afghan men who converted to Christianity from being sentenced to death for “apostasy” — their decisions to abandon Islam.

Representatives from the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Italy have been in contact with Karzai to ask for release and safe passage for Shoiad Assadullah and Sayed Musa.

Assadullah has been in jail since Oct. 21 after his arrest in Mazar-e-Sharif, and Musa has been detained since his arrest last May.

International Christian Concern’s Middle East Specialist Aidan Clay said Assadullah’s case is urgent.

“The case that concerns us most now is Shoiad Assadullah. He was brought to court in late December and was told he would have one week to recant his faith in Christianity and return to Islam. Otherwise he would be given the death penalty,” Clay explained.

Clay said Assadullah has been denied the right of legal representation and has been charged with apostasy, a crime that Clay points out isn’t in the Afghanistan criminal code.

“The second court date was Jan. 4, but fortunately the attorney general in Afghanistan intervened. We can only assume that was because of foreign pressure in the country,” Clay said.

Clay reports that confidential sources in the U.S. State Department say that Assadullah’s case is “on the radar.”

Clay said that outside pressure was responsible for Musa being moved to a safer prison.

“In the first prison where he was held, he was abused, actually sexually abused by the other inmates because he was a Christian,” Clay reported.

Clay said that even with the outside pressure, the fate of the two men is in doubt.

“We aren’t sure of what’s going to happen, but we do know that the Afghan legal system is determined to give them the very harsh penalty of the death sentence for apostasy,” Clay stated.

“The only reason that hasn’t happened yet is because of international intervention,” he added.

Italy is one of the other countries pressing for release of the two Christian men in Afghanistan. 

Speaking on behalf of the Italian government, Italian Sen. Lucio Malan said in a statement that Italy stands with the men.

“At this particular moment of awareness and commitment to religious freedom, Italy cannot remain indifferent to the case of Shoaib Assadullah, an Afghan who risks the death penalty or 20 years in prison for having converted to Christianity, according to apostasy law in force in Afghanistan,” the senator stated.

The senator said he will ask the Italian ministers of foreign affairs and defense to intervene.

“Italy has done and is doing much for Afghanistan, and it is very difficult to think that those who receive our help implement a law in such a flagrant violation of basic human rights,” he said.

Clay said he believes the only reason that both Assadullah and Musa haven’t been given the death sentence yet is because of the interest from other nations.

“After an almost 10-year presence in their country fighting for democracy and fighting for human rights, the fact that Afghan judges still have the mindset that they did under the days of the Taliban shows us that there’s been very little progress in Afghanistan’s judicial system,” Clay observed. 

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