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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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Daily prayer

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  • Cry out to the Lord for 33 Christians who have been sentenced to death in North Korea. The believers are thought to have been working alongside Kim Jeong-Wook, a South Korean missionary who was arrested in October 2013. Jeong-Wook has admitted trying to “create a network of house churches in North Korea” and was also said to be carrying Bibles and other Christian literature. His alleged associates are accused of trying to overthrow the government and of receiving a large sum of money for the construction of 500 house churches. Pray that these executions will not be carried out and that international pressure will be brought to bear on North Korea to release Kim Jeong-Wook and to cease its intense anti-Christian persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

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