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Encouraging Change from Within

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Encouraging Change from Within

Country/Region: AFGHANISTAN

Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who chose to leave Islam and follow Christ, was threatened with a death sentence by an Afghan judge and prosecutor in 2006. After international protests, a pretext was found to dismiss the case and he was able to flee Afghanistan.

In May 2009 a Jordanian Muslim convert to Christianity was threatened by his father that if he did not publicly return to Islam within seven days, the father would shoot him dead.

Muslims who choose to abandon Islam are in danger of death. This is true whether they embrace another faith or whether they only reject Islam. Death can be by judicial execution as almost happened to Abdul Rahman, and as really did happen to Iranian pastor Hossein Soodmand, who was hanged in 1990. Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Sudan also have the death penalty for apostasy. More often the death of a convert is “unofficial”, either murdered by family or community, or illegally beaten and tortured to death while in detention.

Sign the Petition today

Our "Why should they be secret?" petition is available to download in UK, Australian, US, French and German. Alternatively you can sign the peition online today.

Please keep gathering signatures for our petition to abolish the Islamic apostasy law with its death sentence for those who leave Islam.

If they are not killed, apostates may face a whole range of persecution, some of it from the authorities, some of it from relatives and community. Women as well as men are at risk, and so are children. Strange as it may seem, many people who consider themselves Muslims are also at risk of death or other penalties for being “apostates”. This is because mainstream Islamic scholars condemn liberals as not true Muslims. Thus Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, an elderly Muslim religious scholar in Sudan, was executed for apostasy in 1985 after he had published a leaflet calling for sharia to be reformed to make it more humane. Whole sects, such as the Ahmadiyyas and the Bahais, are also condemned as apostates.

The punishment and persecution of converts is based on sharia (Islamic law), and it is only from within the Islamic community that reform of sharia can be achieved. So any change to the treatment of converts in Muslim countries – or elsewhere – must be brought about by Muslims themselves.

This issue has been debated for centuries among Muslim scholars. Although most Muslims do not dispute the classic teaching, the issue remains highly contentious in Islam, and the debate continues today.

In April 2009, a conference hosted by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy was held in the United Arab Emirates to consider a range of global issues, including whether apostates should face the death penalty under sharia. At the conference, some scholars called for a review of the death penalty, including Egyptian government minister Mahmoud Zaqzouq, who said “Religious freedom is a right that should be guaranteed to every human being”. Others were adamant in their refusal to endorse a gentler approach towards apostates. A committee of six religious scholars was appointed to study whether apostates should face the death penalty.

At this time of intense debate among Muslims, we as Christians can seek to encourage changes to the apostasy law through prayer and action. We invite you to write to Muslim leaders and organisations, requesting that they support the calls for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law so that Muslims have complete freedom to leave their Islamic faith without risk of any punishment. BARNABAS AID July/August 009 7 When you write:

Be polite.

Emphasise that under Article 18 of the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Muslims have a human right to choose another faith.

Emphasise that you are not attacking Islam in general or individual Muslims.

Ask the recipient to do all they can to call for a reform of sharia law so as to bring an end to the death sentence and all other penalties for apostates from Islam.

Your letter does not need to be long.

In the UK write to: Mr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General, The Muslim Council of Britain, PO Box 57330, London E1 2WJ

Mr Maajid Nawaz, Director, The Quilliam Foundation, PO Box 60380, London WC1A 9AZ

For other Western countries, please write to appropriate Muslim organisations within your own country, or feel free to write to the British organisations detailed above.

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    • Cry out to the Lord for Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47-year-old Christian minister from India who was abducted in Afghanistan on 2 June. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but three Taliban militants have been arrested in connection with it. Alexis had worked for an NGO in Afghanistan since 2011, helping returning refugees. He was leaving a school near Herat for Afghan children who have recently returned from Iran or Pakistan when he was seized. Give thanks for Alexis’ willingness to serve the Lord in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and pray for his safe return. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 9 hours ago

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

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