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Friday, April 25, 2008

Convert to Christianity flees Jordan under threat to lose custody of his children

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Muhammad on March 25, 2008 when he was handcuffed to the bed for one night (Photo: Middle East Concern)

AMMAN, JORDAN (ANS) -- Muhammad Abbad Abd al-Qader Abbad, a 40 year old Jordanian who converted to Christianity 15 years ago, left Jordan on Friday March 28 after being charged with apostasy before the North Amman Shari'a Court.

Middle East Concern says that Muhammad and his wife Muna al-Habash, have two children: Joy, age 11, and Salam, age 9.

The organization said that on Sunday, March 23, Muhammad and Muna were attacked and beaten by several brothers-in-law of another convert to Christianity who had sought sanctuary in Muhammad's home. Muhammad's son, Salam, was also hit several times as he tried to protect his father.

“After the beatings Muhammad's father reported his son to the police and asked for custody of the couple's two children,” said a spokesperson for Middle East Concern. “When Muhammad went to the police to file a complaint against his attackers he was told to come back the next day. When he returned the following morning he was brought to the governor's office where he was asked about his conversion to Christianity. He was then sent to the Shari'a court and charged with apostasy. Muhammad's father was in the court as well and asked the judge t grant him custody of his two grandchildren.

“When Muhammad told the judge, Faysal Khreisat, he had never been a Muslim, because he was an atheist before becoming a Christian, he was sentenced to one week imprisonment for contempt of court. He was taken back to the police station and from there sent to Jweideh Prison in Amman. On the way he collapsed due to his injuries resulting from the beatings the previous days. He was taken back to the police station and after collapsing a second time he was sent to a hospital and spent the night handcuffed to a bed. The following day he was released on bail.”

The ministry added that Muhammad Abbad had a court hearing March 27 but refused to deny his faith and return to Islam. The judge then set the date for his sentencing for Sunday March 30th. Lawyers advised Muhammad that he would lose the court case, and therefore his children, because he does not deny leaving Islam and becoming a Christian. The couple decided that their only hope to prevent losing their children was to flee Jordan. On Friday, March 28, they managed to leave Jordan.

The following Sunday the judge postponed the hearing due to Muhammad's failure to attend the hearing. Muhammad's father then started the procedure to have Muhammad's marriage dissolved.

After hiding in different Arab countries for almost two weeks the couple traveled to an European country where they applied for asylum.

The spokesperson added, “On September 16th, 2004, the West Amman Islamic Court found another convert from Islam to Christianity guilty of apostasy. His marriage was annulled, he was stripped of his rights as a husband and father and all documents he had ever signed were annulled. Since then at least three other converts to Christianity have been charged with apostasy in Jordan.

“In Jordan apostasy is not a criminal offense and the Islamic courts only have jurisdiction in matters of so-called Personal Status issues (mainly family and inheritance law).”

Note: MEC is a co-operative effort by concerned Christians in the Middle East focusing on the need for Middle Eastern authorities to ensure the rights of all who choose to call themselves Christian,

Its web site can be found at www.meconcern.org


Dan Wooding, 67, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 44 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. danjuma1@aol.com.

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