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    » 11/29/2010, 00.00

    AFGHANISTAN

    Two Afghan converts to Christianity risk the death penalty



    The two men have been in jail since June waiting for trial. A local TV station showed Afghans reciting Christian prayers and being baptised. Afghan law bans conversion from Islam to any other religion. Fr Moretti, in charge of the country’s onlyCatholic church, is interviewed about the matter.

    Kabul (AsiaNews) – Two Afghans accused of converting to Christianity could face the death penalty, a prosecuting lawyer said on Sunday. Musa Sayed, 45, and Ahmad Shah, 50, are being detained in the Afghan capital awaiting trial, the prosecutor in charge of western Kabul, Din Mohammad Quraishi, said.

    “They are accused of conversion to another religion, which is considered a crime under Islamic law. If proved, they face the death penalty or life imprisonment,” Quraishi said. Sayed, a Red Cross (ICRC) employee, has already confessed. There is also "proof" against Shah, Quraishi explained.

    Sayed and Shah were arrested in late May and early June, days after local television broadcast footage of men reciting Christian prayers in Farsi and being baptised, apparently in a house in Kabul. The TV station also showed some people engaged in proselytising, which is banned in the Muslim country.

    The ICRC's spokesman in Kabul, Bijan Frederic Farnoudi, confirmed that Sayed worked for the organisation since 1995. He also said that he was able to visit him in prison.

    The government launched its own investigation into the matter and suspended two aid groups, Norwegian Church Aid (a Protestant organisation) and Church World Service of the US (which includes Protestants, Orthodox and Anglicans), after the TV station reported two of their members were proselytising.

    The Afghan constitution, adopted after the fall of the Islamic Taliban in late 2001, forbids conversion to another religion from Islam and in theory can sentence those found guilty to death. However, no one has been executed in recent years for converting.

    Fr Giuseppe Moretti, parish priest at the only Catholic church in Afghanistan, a chapel inside the Italian Embassy in Kabul, told AsiaNews that he knew nothing about the affair. He was certain that they did not convert to Catholicism.

    “No one in the country was baptised by a Catholic priest because proselytising is banned by law,” he said.

    “The Catholic Church has been present in the country since 1923 with a mandate to take care of members of the international Catholic community living here. It has always respected that [principle] to the letter.”

    As for the anti-conversion law, Fr Moretti has nothing to add, except to reiterate that the Catholic community has always respected it.

    “The Little Sisters of Jesus of Charles de Foucault, the Sisters of Mother Teresa and the Sisters of the Interreligious Community are present here, and they too respect the ban. We bear witness to our faith through our commitment and our lives,” he said.

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    See also

    29/03/2011 INDIA
    Orissa: 12 Tribals arrested for converting to Christianity without an official permit
    They violated the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act. Police issued an arrest warrant against the Protestant clergymen who carried out the conversion. For Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), what happened is “scandalous and a travesty of the noble vision and ideals enshrined in Indian constitution.”

    28/03/2007 INDIA
    In Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh local politicians fight against conversions to Christianity
    The rising number of conversions is worrying local authorities who accuse Christians of stealing from the poor and carrying out all sorts of vile acts. In Jharkhand there is a growing demand that Tribal converts be denied government benefits. In Andhra Pradesh campaigns of open intolerance are underway.

    08/02/2011 NEPAL
    Nepali Hindus and Christians: false allegations of forced conversions to Christianity
    Hindu monarchists declare one million conversions from Hinduism to Christianity since the fall of the monarchy. Religious leaders of both faiths accuse the Hindu extremist parties of exploiting religion to gain support.

    06/08/2007 AFGHANISTAN - SOUTH KOREA
    Seoul hope for solution to hostage crises at Camp David
    President Karzai is in the Usa to meet with George W. Bush, but has already repeated his no to the exchange of the 21 hostages for prisoners wanted by the Taliban and blocked by Washington. Negotiations between Seoul and the “Koranic students” are stalled once again, under the threat of further executions. The international Catholic Community in Kabul hold “ceaseless prayer vigil” for their release.

    11/01/2013 BANGLADESH
    Catholics in Bangladesh hit by land expropriation and forced conversions to Islam
    A Jesuit, professor at the major seminary in Dhaka, explains the difficulties of the Christians and Catholics, often plagued by extreme poverty. Conversion to Islam for marriage increasingly widespread. In the era of communication and globalization, it is urgent to focus on young people.



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