Afghanistan’s Christians face greater threats under Taliban rule

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The Afghan refugee Faridah attended a course in Berlin on October 23, 2016, which prepared her for conversion to the Christian denomination through baptism. |

“Credible reports” of ongoing violence against Afghanistan’s vulnerable religious groups, including executions and enforced disappearances, suggest that Christians with the Taliban in power are at “increased risk” of persecution, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom warned.

USCIRF says in a “fact sheet” that conditions of religious freedom in Afghanistan have deteriorated since the Taliban came to power on August 15, noting that they have “credible reports of violence, including executions, disappearances, evictions, desecrations of Churches of worship, beatings, harassment and threats of violence against members of particularly endangered religious communities.

Afghan Christians, Ahmadi Muslims, Baha’i and infidels cannot openly express their beliefs or beliefs “because they face dire consequences, including death, if they are discovered by the Taliban,” the commission added.

The Taliban have gone door-to-door looking for Christian converts, U.S. allies, former government employees and human rights activists, USCIRF says based on reports. “Christians received threatening phone calls while a leader of a house church network received a letter from Taliban fighters on August 12th threatening him and his family. Some Christians have turned off their phones and moved to unknown places. “

The Afghan Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, reinstated by the Taliban in September, “uses a notoriously violent Islamist police system,” the fact sheet says.

The commission states that Afghanistan has no long-standing Christian denominations and traditions.

Afghan Christians who have converted from Islam and are therefore all “apostates” are subject to Afghan law, which requires the courts to rely on Islamic jurisprudence. “Social actors, the former Afghan government and the Taliban often see conversion as an attempt to flee Afghanistan by seeking refugee status as members of a persecuted religious community.”

The factsheet adds, “Converts who have faced marginalization and threats of honor killings by family and village members are now at increased risk with the Taliban in power.”

The Afghan House Church Network and US-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern estimate that there are 10,000 to 12,000 Christian converts across the country who have practiced underground in the past two decades.

“Afghanistan’s religious minorities and others who do not share the same religious beliefs as the Taliban run the risk of conflicting with the Taliban’s hard-line Islamists,” warns USCIRF. “While conditions for religious freedom in the country were poor under the previous administration, those conditions have already deteriorated and become worse under the Taliban and are likely to continue to deteriorate.”

When the Taliban took control of much of Afghanistan after US troops withdrew in August, many ministries working with the country’s underground church worked tirelessly to evacuate Christians at risk, said William Stark, ICC regional manager for South Asia. opposite The Christian Post earlier.

“Christians are now hiding because of active threats against their community,” said Stark.

He shared stories of how Christians continue to face threats from Taliban members. In one situation, an Islamic extremist threatened to kidnap a Christian’s daughters and marry them off to members of the Taliban. In another, a Christian received a letter from the Taliban saying that his house was theirs. Christians have also been warned not to gather together.

In the factsheet, USCIRF recommends that the US State Department also grant members of religious minorities in Afghanistan access to the US refugee reception program, “in recognition of the grave risk of persecution to which they are exposed by the Taliban.”

In August, the Taliban executed 11 former defense forces and two civilians, including a 17-year-old girl in Daykundi province, all of whom were Shiite ethnic minorities, Amnesty International said in a war crimes report.

Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said the killings were “further evidence that the Taliban are perpetrating the same terrible abuse for which they were notorious during their previous rule in Afghanistan”.

“They repeatedly violate the rights of those they consider to be their opponents, and even kill those who have already surrendered. The Taliban say they are not targeting former employees of the previous administration, but these killings contradict those claims, ”added Callamard.

The Taliban publicly announced in September that as part of their rule in Afghanistan they would carry out executions and other brutal punishments, including amputations, under Islamic Sharia law.

“The cutting off of hands is very necessary for security reasons,” Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a member of the Taliban’s interim government and chief enforcer of the group’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, told the Associated Press at the time.

“Everyone criticized us for the stadium penalties, but we never said anything about their laws or their penalties,” he continued. “Nobody will tell us what our laws should look like. We will follow Islam and make our laws according to the Koran. “

Turabi, who is under UN sanctions, also said the new government is considering implementing such punishments in public.

After US troops withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly took control of much of the country, eventually taking the capital Kabul in August and forcing the government to flee.


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