Christians In Afghanistan Fearing For Their Lives Amid Taliban Takeover Of Country

Afghan flags waving
The Afghan Flag waves above the presidential palace during a meeting between Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and various other Afghan senior government and military leaders in Kabul, March 20, 2018. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro) |

Religious freedom watchers are warning that the Taliban's power grab would intensify the persecution of Afghan Christians.

According to the Christian Headlines, religious freedom was already in jeopardy before the Taliban took control of large parts of the country. Additionally, Afghanistan was ranked No. 2 on Open Doors' World Watch List of the most dangerous countries for Christians. But now that the Taliban has taken over the Afghan government, things have become a lot worse.

The International Christian Concern's Monday report states that "religious diversity in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is not possible."

"Prior to 2001, the Taliban's brief rule was marked by extremism, violence, and discrimination against religious minorities," the report explained. "All activity deemed against Islam was monitored and banned by the Taliban regime and the oppression of women hit all-time highs with the Taliban's strict enforcement of their version of Islamic shariah law."

Hence, the International Christian Concern (ICC) has called on the "international community" to monitor advances in human rights in Afghanistan and to "keep the Taliban in check through multilateral engagement."

It also emphasized the need to work together to protect vulnerable people, such as Christians and other religious minorities in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, Al Jazeera aired live coverage of the Taliban's inaugural press conference in Kabul. After the militant group's occupation of Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the press that the organization wishes to maintain peaceful ties with neighboring nations.

Mujahid also pledged that the Taliban would respect women's rights, forgive those who rebelled against them, and keep Afghanistan safe and peaceful.

But according to the ICC, despite the Taliban's claim of an "inclusive" Islamic government, the Taliban's prior record of inclusiveness is atrocious. Consequently, this pledge is met with skepticism by many human rights activists.

Release International, another watch group, reports that an Afghan church leader has warned that Christians in his country face great danger. There are presently punitive measures in place against anybody who works with the government, and anyone identified as a Christian may be killed. It is also possible for Christians to be betrayed by members of their own families.

A person called Micah, a contact of Release International, characterizes the present scenario in Afghanistan as "dire."

"Our brothers and sisters in Christ are telling us how afraid they are," Micah added. "In the areas that the Taliban now control, girls are not allowed to go to school and women are not allowed to leave their homes without a male companion."

Furthermore, according to the anti-persecution organization, the Taliban are determined to halt what they perceive to be "the westernization of women." In fact, the now renowned Malala Yousafzai, was 15 when she was shot by the Pakistan Taliban for attending school and writing about her experiences on a blog that the whole world could read.

For those who are unable to seek asylum in the United States, other Afghans, especially Christians, are seeking shelter in neighboring Pakistan. However, according to Release International, the Taliban's presence is increasing there as well.

According to some analysts, Pakistan has offered a sanctuary for the Taliban as well as weapons and financial support. Before fleeing, Afghanistan's president also accused Pakistan of allowing thousands of Islamist militants to enter its border to assist the Taliban.