Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government has done this before. Remember Abdul Rahman?
“Mossa’s day in court,” by Mindy Belz in World Magazine, November 13 (thanks to all who sent this in):
For more than a decade, the second Sunday in November has been commemorated in churches worldwide as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This year it is also the day that Sayed Mossa, an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity, has been scheduled to stand trial.
Afghan government officials announced earlier this week that they have scheduled that court date for Mossa’s case–which WORLD has been covering (see “Fugitives,” Aug. 28, 2010, and “Deeds done in darkness,” Nov. 20, 2010)–even though the charges and his legal representation remain in doubt.
According to Westerners closely following his case in Kabul, Mossa is likely to be charged with espionage and with conversion to Christianity, or apostasy–crimes that may be punishable by death under Islamic law. The court session may be televised, officials have said, and it is likely that Mossa will be asked to renounce his faith.
Mossa was arrested in late May as part of a crackdown against Afghan converts to Christianity that followed a television broadcast of several baptisms. He has been held in a prison in Kabul under worsening conditions and has been subjected to daily beatings, torture, and sexual abuse. Court-appointed legal counsel, all Muslims, have refused to take his case because he is considered an apostate. Officials from the International Committee on the Red Cross, where Mossa worked for 15 years, visited him twice, and he has received other Western visitors, including representatives from the U.S. embassy. They confirmed that Mossa had been tortured and successfully pressured the Afghan government to move him to another prison, away from other prisoners. That took place Oct. 29….
UPDATE (Nov. 15, 2010):Court officers on Sunday postponed the trial of Afghan convert Sayed Mossa due to the Muslim holiday of Eid. They say trial will be held next Sunday, Nov. 21. Meanwhile, according to Westerners close to the case, Afghan officials have not formally stated the charges against Mossa (though they are likely to be conversion from Islam and espionage), they have not allowed him legal representation, and they have refused requests from family members to see his court file.