March 4, 2011

06RNSB: Afghan Convert: Execution Could Be Near

Afghan Convert: Execution Could be Near

BY MICHAEL FOUST                                                                                                      ©2011 Baptist Press                                 

An Afghan man in jail for converting from Islam to Christianity says in a handwritten letter that he has been beaten and likely faces the death penalty for his conversion -- and he is requesting that people follow his case.

The letter from Shoaib Assadullah, 23, was smuggled out of prison and posted on International Christian Concern's website. According to ICC, Assadullah was arrested October 21 in Mazar-e Sharif after he gave a Bible to a man who turned him in. During a December 28 court hearing Assadullah was given one week to recant Christianity or face the death penalty, but the U.S. and other governments put enough pressure on Afghanistan authorities to spare his life, ICC reported. He is in prison in Mazar-e Sharif.

Assadullah believes his life is still in danger.

"My case is supposed to be sent to the court shortly, because the prosecutor has the right to hold a case only for 30 days," he wrote, alluding to his Dec. 28 court appearance. "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 the Islamic Shariah law.'"

Assadullah is the second of two Christian converts whose cases have made worldwide headlines. Said (or Sayed) Musa, an Afghan man who was arrested in May and threatened with execution for becoming a follower of Christ, was released in February following international pressure on the Afghan government. Many Christian leaders in the U.S. have expressed concern that Christians are still being persecuted in Afghanistan, a country that was supposedly freed from radical Islam by the U.S.-led military coalition.

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