WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Feb. 21, urging them to do “everything you can” to help free Said (or Sayed) Musa, a convert to Christianity who could be put to death in Muslim-dominated Afghanistan for abandoning Islam.
The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Land is but the latest in a growing number of evangelical leaders who are speaking up for Musa, who became a Christian eight years ago and was arrested in May 2010 after a TV program showed him and other Christians worshiping together. At the time he was seeking asylum elsewhere. His wife and six children have fled the country.
The fact that the U.S. military helped free Afghanistan from the Taliban — a regime which believed in the death penalty for Muslim-to-Christian converts — has only added to the frustration of Musa’s supporters.
“This is the punishment Afghanistan’s government sees fit for merely converting from Islam to Christianity,” Land’s letter read. “Since his arrest, Mr. Musa has experienced beatings, sexual assault and sleep deprivation. Our current administration appropriately condemned this kind of treatment of our own terror suspects.”
Land concluded: “Certainly we cannot stand idly by while a fellow human being is tortured and executed merely for exercising his freedom of conscience. This flies in the face of everything we say we are fighting for in Afghanistan.”
Musa’s case received renewed attention when NationalReview.com posted a story Feb. 18 from author Paul Marshall, who bemoaned the lack of attention the case has gotten in the U.S. media. He wrote, “If the actions of a Florida pastor who threatened to destroy a book holy to Muslims deserved public and presidential attention, then the actions of the Afghan government, ostensibly a ‘democratic’ ally, to destroy something holy to Christians, a human being made in the image of God, also deserve public and presidential attention.” Marshall is the co-author of the forthcoming book, “How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide.”
A former member of the Afghan Army who lost a leg when he stepped on a landmine, Musa, 46, told The Sunday Times newspaper this year, “I don’t care if they crucify me upside down. My spirit will still be alive. I am only afraid of God. Only He can send my soul to hell.”
Musa wrote a letter to Obama and Christians around the world last year, saying, “People please help me…. For [the] sake [of] Lord Jesus Christ please pray and immediately help me and rescue me from this jail. Otherwise, they will kill me, because I know they’re very very very cruel and hard hearted.”
Marshall’s National Review article prompted a Twitter campaign that resulted in thousands of Tweets and re-Tweets. Denny Burk, dean of Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., helped launch it with a Tweet stating, “Mr. President (@BarackObama), please persuade the Afghan govt. not to execute our brother Said Musa.” Burk’s Feb. 19 Tweet — still being re-Tweeted en masse three days later — linked to a November Compass Direct story. Other Christian leaders with large Twitter followings, such as Johnny Hunt, Ed Stetzer, John Piper, Rick Warren and Russell Moore, also have spoken up for Musa.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.