AFGHANISTAN: Christian on trial for apostasy

Said Musa The trial of Said Musa, an Afghan Christian from a Muslim background – which was to have been held on 21 November – has been postponed again. Said remains in prison in Kabul, where he has been held since his arrest in May.

Said was arrested after the subject of Afghans leaving Islam for Christianity became national news following the broadcast on television of a video showing Afghan Christians being baptised and worshipping. The broadcast provoked a heated debate in the country’s parliament and senate. In early June, the deputy secretary of the Afghan parliament, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, called for the execution of converts. “Those Afghans that appeared on this video film should be executed in public,” he said, according to news sources.

In June, the authorities forced Said to renounce Christianity publicly on television. They have continued to hold him in prison without revealing accusations against him. In prison, Said has openly said that he is a follower of Jesus.

In a hand-delivered letter written by Said in October to the church worldwide, U.S. President Barack Obama and the heads of NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces, Said wrote that he was physically and verbally abused by his captors and other prisoners at Ouliat Prison in Kabul.

In broken English, he wrote: “I am very and very in a bad condition in the jail,” and elsewhere in the letter, “I am alone between 400 of terrible wolves in the jail, like a sheep.”

“For [the] sake [of the] Lord Jesus Christ please pray for me and rescue me from this jail otherwise they will kill me because I know they [have] very very very cruel and hard hearts.”

Said wrote of being sexually abused, beaten, mocked, spat on and deprived of sleep because of his faith in Jesus. He wrote that he would be willing to suffer for his faith in order to encourage and strengthen other Christians in their faith.

Said also described how he had repented of denying his faith publicly: “I acknowledge my sin before [the] Lord Jesus Christ: ‚ÄòDon’t refuse me before your holy angels and before your Father because I am a very very weak and [sinful] man.'”

Days after the letter was circulated, quiet diplomacy resulted in authorities transferring Said to a different prison, to keep him separate from prisoners who would likely abuse him for his faith. He is now held at the Kabul Detention Center in the Governor’s Compound.

Said, known as Dr. Musa, has worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul for 15 years fitting people for prosthetic limbs. He also has a prosthetic leg. Married and the father of six young children, he has been a Christian for eight years.

Local Christians and religious freedom monitors have expressed concern that Musa may be made an example. “The court case against Said Musa is unique,” said one religious freedom advocate, a Christian, under condition of anonymity. “Authorities usually don’t want court cases against Christians. This is high profile, as Musa has been on TV and was put under pressure to deny his faith publicly. This is a kind of a test case to see which law prevails in the country: sharia [Islamic law] or international agreements.” (Compass Direct, Release International)