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Afghan Aid Worker Released from Prison

Compass Direct News Reports Said Musa Leaves Country after Refusing to Recant Christian Faith

Contact: Jerry Dykstra, Open Doors USA, 616-915-4117, jerryd@odusa.org

SANTA ANA, Calif., Feb. 24, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- According to Compass Direct News, Afghan Christian aid worker Said Musa has been released from prison.

After intense diplomatic pressure last week, authorities released Musa, 45, who had been in prison for more than eight months on charges of apostasy (leaving Islam), punishable by death under Islamic law, according to Compass.

In the last few weeks, there have been multiple reports on both social and regular media that Musa had been sentenced to death for apostasy and his execution was imminent. Those reports were erroneous.

Christians around the world have been praying for Musa's release and those prayers have been answered.

"The release of Said from prison is really an occasion to praise our Lord for His mighty answer to many prayers," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "This is truly tremendous news. Keep Said and his family in your prayers as they are reunited.

"We need to temper that good news because the fact is that 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with little or no freedom of religion. Afghanistan is ranked No. 3 this year on the Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. And for good reason. There is absolutely no religious freedom in the country where our troops are spilling their blood...and where Afghan Christian blood has also been spilled by Muslim extremists.

"Also, another Afghan Christian by the name of Shoib Assadullah remains in an Afghan prison on a charge of giving a New Testament to a man who turned him into authorities. He is another convert from Islam to Christianity. Secret Believers like Shoib and thousands more in Muslim-dominated countries need our support and prayers."

A source in Afghanistan told Compass that Musa (alternately spelled Sayyed Mussa) was released last week and had left the country on Monday, but the date of his release was not clear.

Musa had written a series of letters from his prison cell, the last one dated Feb. 13, according to Compass sources. In that letter Musa, an amputee and a father of six, said that representatives of embassies in Kabul visited him and offered him asylum.

After the representatives left, according to the letter, Musa was taken to another room where three Afghani officials tried to convince him to recant his faith. They promised to release him from prison within 24 hours if he would do so. He refused and was sent back to his cell.

"I told them I cannot (follow) Islam," he wrote in his letter. "I am Jesus Christ's servant. They pushed me much and much. I refused their demands."

Assadullah, 23, an Afghani Christian, has been in a holding jail in a district of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan since October. A recent letter from him suggests that his life is in danger, according to Compass.

An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.

(To set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email jerryd@odusa.org.)