Celebrating Veteran’s Day is an important reminder that our soldiers die for our freedom and often the freedoms of others. So how should we respond when a country we have set free from tyranny is murdering their people that leave Islam for Christianity? That has been happening in Afghanistan and may happen again after a judgment today in an Afghani court.
Sayed Mossa, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity, has been scheduled to stand trial today and most likely will be sentenced to death. His trial for apostasy will probably be televised in the war-torn country, and it appears Mossa may not even have adequate representation. Every lawyer, all Muslims, that has been appointed by the courts to represent Mossa have refused. They dare not defend someone who converted to Christianity.
Mossa is a 45 year old, married, father of six children. His youngest is 8 and he has one disabled child. Mossa is an amputee and has spent 15 years of his life helping others with the International Red Cross. However a co-worker turned Mossa in for being a Christian convert – a crime in most Muslim nations practicing Sharia law.
In October Mossa gave a letter to a Western visitor so others may hear his story. Mossa said he has been imprisoned since May “due to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, saviour of the world.” He went on to describe much of what he has gone through while in prison.
“They did sexual things with me, beat me by wood, by hands, by legs, mocked me (“he’s Jesus Christ”), [spit] on me. No body let me for sleep night and day.” – Mossa
The government appears to have been promoting such ill treatment. Many outside observers wonder how the courts could condemn Mossa considering some of the country’s commitments in UN statements and their own Constitution. The Karzai government is a signatory of the UN Declaration on Human Rights. That document calls for freedom of religion and equal access to “a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.” It also states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Afghanistan enacted their Constitution in 2003 with the help of the United States. The document declares in Article 2: “Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law.”
So what has been the response of the American government? When you consider the amount of lives lost and billions spent, we must demand more from the Afghanis. One Westerner in Kabul put it perfectly:
“The U.S. government has been actively engaged in Afghanistan since 2001, spending billions of dollars, exerting millions of hours of manpower, and losing precious American lives in order to ensure that the Afghan people enjoy these basic human rights. If one cannot enjoy these rights, none can enjoy them.”
Representatives of the U.S. embassy have visited Mossa in prison and confirmed he has been tortured. Thankfully they were able to convince the Afghanistan courts by letter to move Mossa to a new prison and away from other prisoners. But the diplomatic pressure has yet to get Mossa released and much of that pressure has been done by low level folks.
Many believe only President Karzai could get Mossa released, but somehow I think it will take more than letters from embassy workers to make that happen. A call from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or the President may do wonders. Even Mossa understands that. In the letter he sent out he started it:
“To the international church of the world and to the President Brother [Barack] Obama and to the heads of ISAF force in Afghanistan.” – Mossa
Christians were told by Christ they would suffer (John 16:33). However, with a little bit of high level pressure, this brave former Muslim may not have to suffer to the point of death. I pray that our President who found the time to ask a Florida pastor to not burn Korans will take the time to ask Karzai to let Mossa live.