As you have probably read, Said Musa is scheduled to be executed within the next three days. It has been encouraging to see so many people waking up the horrific realities of Christian persecution, especially as it exists in Muslim countries. The Christian Post points out that Christian leaders from Rick Warren to rap artist Shai Linne have been tweeting and re-tweeting the case of Said Musa, a Christian scheduled for execution in Afghanistan because he chose to follow Christ. It seems as though my friend Denny Burk started the snowball that is now rolling downhill to stop this execution when he urged followers to contact President Barack Obama.
As Paul Marshall points out, President Obama has certainly weighed in on matters much less important in the past, including his official statement of condemnation against a fringe, Florida pastor who merely threatened to burn a Quran. Surely, the President has an opportunity to stand up for freedom and human dignity, particularly given the fact that Afghanistan professes to be a democratic government and the further fact that the U.S. military and U.S. tax dollars are flowing freely throughout Afghanistan to support this government.
Indeed, the involvement of our money and military in Afghanistan has led many to sound the alarms against our helping this country if they are going to use our aid for the unjust executions of non-Islamic peoples. Mark Krikorian, himself a descendant of Christian refugees from the Middle East, calls attention to our spending billions in Afghanistan to supporting this government which is about to execute a Christian unjustly. Krikorian quotes the Afghanistan Chief of Staff, who says of Christians like Said Musa, “They must be sentenced to death to serve as a lesson for others.” So, in the name of teaching people an Islamic lesson, Said Musa must die? And what is this valuable life lesson?
Apparently, the lesson is “Don’t even think about freedom of religion.” Said Musa’s crime was apparently his decision to follow Christ instead of Muhammad. According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights—a document which Afghanistan signed and ratified—citizens of the country are supposed to have freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial. Musa got neither. Instead of freedom of religion, Said Musa is sentenced to be hanged for the crime of getting baptized.
From the standpoint of the International Covenant, Afghanistan is violating its own stated commitments to human freedom. By my count (at least ostensibly), Musa’s case violates Article 6, Article 7, Article 9, Article 10, Article 12, Article 14, and, especially, Article 18 of their covenant agreement with the nations of the world. So, why is it that now—when democracy is on the march in the Middle East—this government would pursue such a hypocritical and barbaric course of action against an innocent Christian?
One need look no further than to their neighbors to the south to answer the question. Government leaders in Afghanistan don’t want to face the charge of hypocrisy; they don’t want to be seen as barbaric by the outside world. But they also don’t want to die. About a month ago, a governor in neighboring Pakistan made a statement to the effect that he believed executing converts from Islam to Christianity was inappropriate. The governor’s bodyguard shot and killed him. The execution, though an awful blow to democratic ideals in this volatile region, was probably not enough to dissuade leaders from speaking publicly against executing Christians. Yet, what followed has surely had a chilling effect. According to this news report, about 50,000—yes, 50,000—people took to the streets to celebrate the man who murdered his boss. They protested loudly against any changes to the current laws against blasphemy in Pakistan. One would have to be a fool not to notice the signal this sends to leaders of Muslims in this area. For us, another life lesson is made clear: Not all protesters are seeking democracy.
Understand the pressure that has been put upon the government of Afghanistan. Surely, they need our prayers, too. They feel the heat of an Islamic furor that longs for its satisfaction in the execution of Christians and any others who refuse to submit to Allah. In some ways, I think these leaders are less callous about life than Secretary Clinton and President Obama must be. President Obama risks nothing by taking a stand for Said Musa. His life is not in danger, but his voice might just save Said. The government leaders in Afghanistan, on the other hand, are probably risking their lives by considering a cancellation of the scheduled execution. The seriousness of the situation will make clear what each government thinks of the value of human life and human freedom.
Jesus’s teaching becomes soberly clear in a situation like this: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell.” For Said Musa, the fears are real. But so is his faith. He says of his present situation, “My body is theirs to do what they want with. Only God can decide if my spirit goes to hell.” Whether he lives or dies, Musa surely does not appear headed for the coward’s end (Revelation 21:8). Faith is giving him clear sight.
If you would like to remember this brother in prison, as though in prison with him, since you yourself are in the body of Christ (Hebrews 13:3), then you will want to pray for Said Musa, that his faith would not fail, that he would not shrink back, and that we would not be silent.
Then, you may want to speak. I have different contact pages below.
Contact Afghanistan embassy in D.C. http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org/contact.html
Contact US embassy in Afghanistan: http://kabul.usembassy.gov/contact.html
Contact the President at the White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact