Hussein Qambar Ali, who has been a Christian for less than two years, found his life on the line in Kuwait, a nation where the state religion of Islam opposes conversion by its citizens.
Hussein, who uses the Christian name Robert, could be executed after his conviction for apostasy in a Kuwaiti Islamic court May 29. The religious court recommended that Hussein, a Muslim by birth, should be killed because of his conversion to Christianity. According to local reports, the court also said his marriage should be dissolved and all his possessions be distributed to his heirs. The ruling says that the supreme Muslim ruler, or imam, would have the sole authority to carry out the execution.
Hussein remains in hiding as he fears for his life. An apostasy conviction is unprecedented in modern Kuwait. It is not an explicit crime under Kuwait's legal system, although the constitution stipulates that sharia (Islamic law) is the basis for all Kuwaiti laws. Some Islamic societies, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, interpret sharia to mandate the death penalty for apostates.
"Apostasy in the Islamic world is serious," Hussein told CHRISTIANITY TODAY in a telephone interview. "Anyone, even an ordinary person, has the right to kill me without any penalty."
Hussein went public about his conversion last December when he told Kuwaiti newspapers that his estranged wife refused to let him visit his two children because he had embraced Christianity. After publication of the interviews, three lawyers filed a private suit charging Hussein with apostasy. He soon began receiving death threats. Western missionary groups estimate that fewer than 300 Kuwaiti nationals in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country are Christians. "Why should I pay the heavy price ...1
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