A British charity has issued a petition challenging Muslim leaders to call for reform or reinterpretation of the Islamic law of apostasy.
Under Shariah, or Islamic law, Muslims who convert to another faith and refuse to repent must be put to death.
The petition by the England-based Barnabas Fund asks for signatures from those who believe "Muslims who choose to convert to another faith should be free to do so without having to face a lifetime of fear."
The group acknowledges the tradition is upheld and taught by most Muslim religious leaders around the world. But it notes a reformist interpretation that claims an apostate can be put to death only if he also is a danger to the Islamic state.
Traditionalists insist, nevertheless, every apostate is a danger to the Islamic social order and has committed high treason.
The petition urges Western governments, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and other international institutions to urgently raise the issue with Muslim leaders and organizations.
"Through its new petition, Barnabas Fund is calling on all people of good will to help moderate Muslims by lending their support to these calls for change," the group said.