(ICC) — According to Mission Network News, Christians in Afghanistan are calling out for prayer and asking Christians around the world to advocate on their behalf. This call to action comes as new reports of persecution surface for Afghan Christians trying to escape the country.
Following the withdrawal of the United States and NATO allies, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in a stunning collapse of the country last week. Fear and uncertainty surround the future of Afghanistan under Taliban rule and many minorities, including Christians, fear the imposition of the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Sharia law.
Since the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from Afghanistan on April 13, the Taliban quickly took control of the country. Last week, Taliban forces entered Kabul, effectively asserting complete control of Afghanistan.
In a document prepared for the United Nations by the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, the group warned the Taliban was targeting “collaborators” despite promising there would be “no revenge”.
“There are a high number of individuals currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear,” Christian Nellemann, who heads the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, told the BBC last week. “It is in writing that, unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals.”
Afghanistan’s Christians have expressed similar fears.
“We are telling people to stay in their houses because going out now is too dangerous,” a Christian leader in Afghanistan, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, told International Christian Concern (ICC) last week. While a general amnesty has been announced by the Taliban, this leader feared Christians will still be targeted by Taliban fighters patrolling Kabul and other cities.
“Some known Christians are already receiving threatening phone calls,” the Christian leader told ICC. “In these phone calls, unknown people say, ‘We are coming for you’.”
While ICC has not confirmed any targeted killings of Christians, Release International’s Spokesman, Andrew Boyd, claimed at least one Christian has been killed by the Taliban.
“The Taliban have been checking phones to check if there are any bibles downloaded onto their phones,” Boyd to GB News. “We have a report that at least on Hazara has been killed as a result of this.”
Afghanistan’s Christian community is almost exclusively comprised of converts from Islam. Some estimate the Christian population to be between 8,000 and 12,000, making it one of the country’s largest religious minority groups. However, due to extreme persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.
Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general. In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.
In many cases, known Christians must flee Afghanistan or risk being killed.
According to the Taliban’s ideology, Afghanistan is a Muslim country and non-Muslims must leave Afghanistan or accept second class status. For Christians, coming from convert backgrounds, the Taliban will consider them apostate and subject to Sharia’s deadliest consequences.
*This article was published by International Christian Concern, International Christian Concern, or ICC, (www.persecution.org) is a Washington, DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides awareness, advocacy, and assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.