November 21st, 2010
08:49 AM ET

Afghan Christian faces trial for alleged conversion from Islam

From Matiullah Mati for CNN:

An Afghan Christian, detained for months for allegedly converting to Christianity from Islam, could face trial as early as next week - and could face a potential death penalty, officials said Sunday.

Said Musa was arrested by Afghan Interior Ministry intelligence authorities near the German Embassy in Kabul because of the allegations, said Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone. The exact date of his arrest is not known.

The case against Musa has not yet been finalized, said Mohammad Najim Hamidi, director of public security at Zone 3 of the Kabul courts. He could face trial next week if the case is prepared by then, Hamidi said. It was earlier thought Musa's trial would begin on Sunday.

The Afghan Constitution does not mention converting from one religion to another, so the judge will take Islamic law into account, officials said.

"According to Afghanistan's constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict," Shenwari said.

Under sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.

It was not immediately clear where Musa was being held and whether he has access to his attorney or relatives.

The U.S. State Department said last week in its annual International Religious Freedom Report that "respect for religious freedom" decreased in Afghanistan in the last year, "particularly toward Christian groups and individuals."

Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - as well as Muslims whose practices don't satisfy the government or society - suffer "intolerance in the form of harassment, occasional violence, discrimination and inflammatory public statements," the report said. It estimated the Afghan Christian community ranges from 500 to 8,000 people.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Afghanistan • Christianity • Islam

soundoff (669 Responses)
  1. Khalil

    i am a Muslim, a convert to Islam. I can guarantee you Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia do not represent our religion. Ask people in Indonesia, malaysia, Singapore, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Bosnia, etc, and they will tell you the same.

    The death of an apostate during the Prophet's time was people who left Islam not because of religion but in turn shared what today would be considered "state secrets" death of apostasy was due to people who half heartedly accepted Islam and in turn still "worked" for the pagan meccans. look it up.

    there was a group of Muhammad's companions who were sent to Ethiopia in the early years while the pagans oppressed them and when Medina was founded, some emigrated there. Some over the years converted from Islam to Christianity and remained in Ethiopia. There was no bad blood at all. Look it up and get educated for once.

    thirdly, there were a group of jews who fought against the Muslims when they made a treaty with the Muslims. they lived in Medina and swore to protect it alongside the Muslims against the pagans. 2 tribes were loyal to the Muslims and fought alongside them, others broke their treaty. (in modern terms this is considered a big international offense). So what happen? the jews who broke the treaty were executed. By Muhammad? NO. By Muslims? NO. By their own law? YES. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said that they should be tried according to their own laws and hence a Jewish judge of medina tried them and found them guilty of TREASON. thus they were executed. and again, look it up and get educated.

    November 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Doodlebug

      Then encourage the rest of your muslim buddies to stand up and speak out against it. Seems you "peaceful" muslims enjoy sitting back and riding the coattails of the radicals, allowing them to do the dirty work of spreading islam through fear mongering and violence.

      The line's drawn in the sand. Choose a side, now.

      November 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • MicheleG


      Yay, Doodlebug!

      November 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • Rhonda

      Doodlebug is right on the money!!!

      November 21, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
    • mohammy

      i like turtles

      November 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  2. TamarS

    but of course. islam: religion of death. death if you do. death if you don't. what an ignorant path.

    November 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Brian

    "When will we all wake up and realize that this religion is not peaceful! "...........

    Is any religion peaceful? If you look at the history of the last two thousand years it's mostly a history of Christians fighting Christians.

    November 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
    • Sheep Prefer Dhimmitude


      Good for you.

      November 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  4. tony

    I could tolerate any fantasy religion that keep itself to itself. But when it lays down its law for others, it crosses the line into becoming absolutely evil. And that goes for Beck/Palin as well as the Taliban. Just about all religions end up that way.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
  5. Bill

    Dave: You write that "True islam is the DEVIL" I agree. You state say "that is what our young men are fighting and dying to protect" I do agree that is what they are fighting and dying for. Finally you say the "United States better stand up and recognise" What the people of the United States better stand up and recognise is the fact that thru the stupidity of the voting public, they have foolishly installed in the White House a pupit if Islam.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  6. Abd al-Latif

    As an American MUSLIM (yes, that's right! I'm here and I ain't goin' nowhere), I get tired of the media giving their simplistic rulings on "sharia law." This one is a good example–the idea that "the penalty for conversion is death." It's not that simple, actually. It depends on what school of Islamic jurisprudence you're dealing with. By some interpretations, there is no earthly penalty for conversion if it is not done within a situation of war between Muslims and the other religion. In other words, if it doesn't qualify as actual treason, there's no penalty, at least not a death penalty. The media always takes the most extreme position, for example that of the Taliban or the Saudi Arabian government, and then promulgates that as "sharia law." As in other systems of law, there are no simple answers–it depends on the situation. But there will always be those in this country (namely Zionists, neo-Nazis, and haters in general) who will be eager to jump on things like this and declare that there is something INHERENTLY violent or warlike about Muslims. Then they can justify their own murderous acts toward us, just as they have since the Crusades: as necessary defense against an uncivilized, barbarous culture. But their own actions betray their own barbarity and lack of civilized norms. They are hypocritical in the extreme, as the West has had a far more bloodthirsty history (especially in the 20th century) than has the Islamic world. 11 September, with its 3,000 deaths, pales in comparison to America's bombing of Iraq (> 100,000 deaths) or Israel's bombing of first Lebanon, then Gaza. And I refer here only to deaths of civilian noncombatants.

    It's really funny that most American haters are used to one-sided "debates" with foreign-born Muslims who can barely spell, let alone mount a logical argument in English. That era is coming to an end. Many of us Muslims have termainal degrees and we are tired of being silent. We will not be silent anymore; we will defend ourselves. Blessed is Allah who taught us the use of the pen.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Doodlebug

      You won't get congress without a civil war. Believe me.

      This is the US, and we make our OWN laws – laws that protect individual freedoms, including those of women.
      That's right, we respect women in this country, and we see them as our equals.

      You're not going to subjugate over half of the population.

      November 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • .308

      @ Abd al-Latif

      "As an American MUSLIM (yes, that's right! I'm here and I ain't goin' nowhere)... Many of us Muslims have termainal degrees and we are tired of being silent. We will not be silent anymore; we will defend ourselves. Blessed is Allah who taught us the use of the pen."

      Well now – First, it's a TERMINAL degree; you need to get your money back from Allah's english class. Second, you AREN'T going anywhere – unless you threaten the safety of my family – then you are going somewhere. Lastly, to hell with your transparent passive-aggressive tactic of "defending yourself". Good morning, sunshine. We're on to you.

      November 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • .308

      and BTW – you don't have to worry about "not being silent anymore." There's no such word as "anymore." I think what you're after is "any longer." Hope you kept your receipt for that 'use of the pen' class. I think you can audit it in the spring (but your grade still counts from when you flunked the class earlier.)

      November 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  7. Bobby

    This is normal. It is a belief of some factions of Islam. Freedom of religion. It should also be accepted in the US because it is religious freedom we are pushing for. We must learn to accept all religions and their practices. Some in the US think we just have to accept "good muslims" that practice "good Islamic Religion". Not true. If we accept Islam, we must accept it, just like we accept all the christisn religions.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  8. RickS

    Wzrd1, you know absolutely nothing about Christianity. Nothing. Go and read the Gospels and then come back and tell us about that verse from Deuteronomy you selectively quoted. Good grief. No wonder you people are losing so badly with that kind of ignorance on display.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  9. Enlightened

    All major religions seem to have a common theme regarding conversion to or away from their respective faiths, that is the threat of death, torture or severe punishment. Without this intimindation or threat of punishment these religions would not survive.
    Islam .............Convert or Die
    Christianity....Convert or Eternally Fry
    Buddhism......Convert or be reincarnated into a fruit fly.
    Judaism........ Convert or let the rocks fly

    NATO should get out of Afghanistan, and let these barbarians knock each other off. It's a war that the Russians could not win and neither will this current effort.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • Willow

      Buddhism's at least, seems the most humane.

      November 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  10. Dean

    Amazing – It's all Bush's fault. You left wing idiots are enough to puke a buzzard.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  11. brown

    Go back to watching your sitcom's and Hollywood drama. Your indifference towards the struggle in Afghanistan and what
    is means to your grandchildren is nothing less than betrayal. The radical Islamic movement is not going to stop at your border.

    The West is losing this war because it doesn't have the stomach to prosecute the war effectively. Today, the politicians only interest is finding a way out of this quagmire, tomorrow your grandchildren will pay with their lives!

    November 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  12. dumb muslims

    this sound like a gang...blood in, blood out.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  13. bob

    And we are spending the blood of our people for this? To "save" a bunch of throwbacks? Out of Afghanistan NOW.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Your tax dollars at work.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  15. Mpls-illmatic

    This is the country that were fighting for? This is the country we're losing our men and women to? We drop all this cash and ruined endless amount of life for a country that will execute its own people for converting religions?

    that's it, we done. pull out.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  16. Las Vegas Native

    The comment below was posted on the Las Vegas Herald website a few days ago. Religious intolerance is as strong in the USA as it is in Afghanistan...


    By christian american, 11-19-10, 03:16 PM
    Las Vegas city council to open with Hindu mantras
    Somebody had better wake up and pull the towel from around their head! This is america and we believe in God not some hindu nonsense.....

    November 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • Las Vegas Native

      By geordie, 11-19-10, 06:34 PM
      Here is another one that was left on that website...

      Hindu mantras
      What is the City Council thinking? What country do we live in and as a Nevada resident – who is paying your stinkin salaries to allow such nonsense – WE AS AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GOD, OUR COUNTRY WAS MELDED AROUND THIS – NOT ANY OTHER RELIGION. Wake up you fools – you get elected also

      November 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  17. stanton


    November 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Kenny

    If Sharia Law says that a person not of the Muslim faith either must convert to Islam or be put to death and if it says that a person that converts from Islam to any other religion must be put to death, then I have a problem with that. Where is the freedom? If this is true, then the earth is going to be consumed with relegious wars until such time as there are either Muslims only on earth or until there are no Muslims on earth. I cannot imagine an earth where just one religion rules the planet. It weaks of the days of Ceasar when he wanted Rome to be the ruling capitol of the world or of the days of Hitler where he was of the mind set that there would only be one type of people to rule the world and he set out to do it until the world slapped him down. Now I am not suggesting we do to the Islamic faith what was done to the Hitler empire but I am suggesting that it would be better for this planet if muslims and all other religions learned to live in peace because there can never be a clear winner in any war where one religion tries to rule the world.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  19. Alex

    You see the crazy things people are willing to do in name of religion or believing in a god for what that matters.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • crawbar

      Who else do you have in mind, Alex, except muslims?

      November 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
  20. curious

    Islam does not exactly look like a religion of tolerance and peace, does it? And, no, bringing up the Crusades from over a thousand years ago doesn't impress me; let's instead use the religion norms that prevail today–everyplace but in Islamic countries.

    While we're in Afganistan, we should not allow this kind of religious persecution on our watch. By propping up and funding a government that has a the death penalty for anyone who dares to convert away from Islam, we partake of this odious practice. Send in a special forces team to rescue this person. Then, let's consider whether we really want to be spending billions of dollars and American lives propping up a government that looks more and more like the Taliban.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.