Iraq Releases Christian Girl From Prison

Thursday, November 13, 2008

By Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife) -- Authorities in northern Iraq have released a 16-year-old Christian girl who was serving a 3 1/2 years jail sentence for killing her uncle after he attacked her, observers of the case confirmed Wednesday, November 12.

Netherlands-based Open Doors, which investigates the plight of prosecuted Christians, said Maria Asja Ahmed Mohammed was released early after serving nearly two years of her prison term.

The case underscored concerns over the Christian minority in the country. Tensions in Maria's family began in 1998 when Maria’s father, identified only as Kurdish man known as Ahmed, became a Christian and soon started encouraging others to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, Open Doors said. “In 2003 Maria en her mother were baptized, which added to anger among other family members,” the group added.

"Ahmed’s brother Sayeed tried five times to kill Ahmed...In 2006 Sayeed also attacked Ahmeds wife and children. Maria managed to take a knife and stabbed her uncle just once, killing him instantly," said Open Doors.


Following the incident, her grandparents reportedly demanded the death penalty for Maria and some $44.000 in 'blood money' compensation. "Ahmed en his family had to hide, while their daughter was send to a youth prison," Open Doors told BosNewsLife in a statement.

"It was a difficult time," said Ahmed in published remarks. "We wanted to visit Maria as much as we could. But it was difficult because of our financial situation and a lack of transport."

While Maria was free Wednesday, November 12, the family was expected a difficult road of recovery. "There is still a chance that Maria's uncles, aunts and grand parents want to take revenge on the girl, or her parents and brothers." Ahmed reportedly considers to leave with his family to another area of the troubled country.

It comes at a time when thousands of Christians in northern Iraq have faced violence and threats from Islamic militants, forcing many to flee Iraq.

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