Christian Leaders Launch Twitter Campaign to Stop Execution of Said Musa
Christian leaders have launched a Twitter campaign to save Said Musa, an Afghan who is awaiting execution for converting to Christianity from Islam.
Musa, 45, was told by a judge that he would be hanged within days unless he reconverts to Islam, the Daily Mail reported Feb. 7.
The Twitter buzz started with Denny Burk's appeal Saturday to President Obama "to persuade the Afghan govt. not to execute our brother Said Musa." Burk is the Dean of Boyce College at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Then, John Piper tweeted a similar message, "Mr. President, speak wisely and boldly, in private if necessary, for Said Musa, imprisoned in Kabul."
His post included a link to a Compass News Direct report on a letter it received from Musa in late October, in which the Christian of eight years addressed Obama as a "brother" and pleaded with the international community for prayer and his release.
As media-saavy Christians re-tweeted Piper's message throughout Saturday and Sunday, other Christian leaders also joined the spontaneous campaign to tweet and re-tweet on behalf of the imprisoned physiotherapist and father of six.
On Sunday, Rick Warren, named as one of the top 20 Twitter celebrities by Forbes, brought attention to how the media has underreported Musa's story.
"Media CLAIM to champion free speech but if they really did, they'd report these stories everyday," Warren told his 245,653 Twitter followers.
The Saddleback Church pastor also linked a National Review Online article, "America Quiet on the Execution of Afghan Christian Said Musa," which questioned why Obama weighed in on the threat by Terry Jones to burn the Qu'ran but has not made a move on Musa's situation.
"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," argued writer Paul Marshall.
Pastor Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Dallas was among the 100-plus people who re-tweeted a message from Christian Hip Hop artist Shai Linn that asked for prayers for Musa.
"Let us not be quiet," read a tweet Saturday by David Platt, author of the best-selling book Radical. "Pray/Plead for Said Musa…& unknown others who face death for confessing Christ."
Musa, a former Red Cross worker who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion, has been in prison since last May, after he appeared in a video broadcasted by a local TV network that showed Afghan Christians being baptized by westerners. He was arrested when he attempted to seek asylum at the German Embassy.
He said that while in prison he has been sexually abused and beaten and spat on for his faith in Jesus Christ.
Despite facing a death sentence, Musa has refused to renounce his faith, telling the Sunday Times, "My body is theirs to do what they want with. Only God can decide if my spirit goes to hell."
"No man should die b/c (because) he wants to change religion," posted Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in a re-tweeted message. He also put in a hash tag for "barackobama" and asked others to re-tweet.
Musa's case is the first case of apostasy, which is punishable by death under sharia law, that has led to near execution since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
According to Afghan's Constitution, a case will be deferred to a judge's verdict under sharia law only if there is no clear verdict in the constitution. Officials have said Constitution does not mention converting to another religion.
However, Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission, argued that Musa's trial breaks at least three provisions of Afghanistan's 2004 Constitution.
Human rights groups have also called on Afghanistan, a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to honor religious freedom and the freedom to change religions as mandated by the document.
Since being detained Musa has been denied a fair trial and access to a lawyer. Some defense lawyers have refused to represent Musa unless he reconverts to Islam while others have dropped his case after being threatened.
His wife and six children have fled to Pakistan.