Last May 31st in Afghanistan , a world away from American backyard barbeques and military parades, Sayeed Mussa vanished into thin air. Mr. Mussa was spirited away to an unknown location to be executed for his faith in Jesus Christ. No, his captors were not the Taliban insurgents but Afghanistan government officials, bankrolled by US taxpayers and defended by American troops.
As President Obama proclaimed January 16th to be "Religious Freedom Day," he declared that "the United States stands with those who advocate for free religious expression and works to protect the rights of all people to follow their conscience, free from persecution and discrimination." If the Obama Administration is working to promote religious freedom across the globe at all, it's not working very hard.
Mr. Mussa's plight is case in point. The United States has spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives to liberate the Afghan people from the Taliban's theocratic tyranny yet Christians and other religious minorities are frequently harassed and jailed for exercising a core right in any free and democratic state.
Mr. Mussa, who lost his own leg to a landmine, was arrested on his way home from his work at the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent where he helped fit fellow Afghan amputees with prosthetics. The father-of-six was inspired by the selflessness of Christian aid workers and converted to Christianity. When Afghani TV profiled Mr. Mussa in a story on Christians in Kabul , he was imprisoned in a secret facility where he was raped and beaten by his jailers and fellow inmates.
After Mussa disappeared, his wife reached out for help to find her husband. When word reached the halls of Congress in early June, Congressman Frank Wolf and the International Religious Freedom Caucus contacted the State Department immediately. The silence from State was deafening. After much prodding from Caucus coordinator Tina Ramirez, Foggy Bottom finally responded to Wolf's initial letter three months later by advising "extreme caution in raising alarm; [religious minorities] are best protected by as little public attention as possible." The Red Cross, Mussa's former employer, washed their hands of Mussa and blamed the Afghan Christian for his fate.
Mr. Mussa's location and his appalling conditions were serendipitously discovered at the end of July, without the help of the State Department, Red Cross, or Afghan government. Afghan authorities refused to inform Mussa of his crime and denied him visits with his foreign lawyer. His jailers repeatedly pressured him to recant his faith. An Afghan lawyer refused to take the case until Mussa recanted. He refused.
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