11/17/2010, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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Afghan Christian to go to trial on Sunday for his faith

Said Musa was arrested on 31 May. He is set to appear before a judge without legal counsel and without knowledge of the charges against him. Many fear he might be made an example to show that Sharia is the law of the land.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An Afghan national, in prison since May because of his religion, will be put on tried this Sunday. However, he has been denied legal counsel. Local sources say no one knows what charges will be laid against him when he goes before a judge.

The authorities arrested Said Musa, 45, on 31 May, a day after a local station, Noorin TV, broadcast images of Christians praying after being baptised. This was followed by a wave of arrests against Christians in what local sources describe as a manhunt. Apparently, Said Musa is the only Christian to go on trial.

Leaving Islam for another religion is a capital offence under Afghanistan’s Islamic law, despite the fact that the Taliban lost power in 2001.

In June, the authorities forced Musa to abjure his Christian faith publicly, on television, but still kept him in prison without informing him of the charges against him.

In prison, Musa said he was a follower of Jesus, local sources report.

Last month, Musa was able to get a letter out, addressed to the world’s Churches, to US President Barack Obama and the chiefs of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

In it, he wrote that he was “physically and verbally abused” by his captors and other prisoners at Ouliat Prison in Kabul.

He alluded to the lack of justice he faced, saying that the prosecutor had given the judge a false report about him and had demanded a bribe.

Local Christians, human rights observers and religious freedom monitors fear that Musa might be made an example to show that Sharia rules in Afghanistan rather than international agreements.

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