Afghan Christians issue international appeal
A group of Afghan Christians exiled in India said recently that the Afghanistan government has called for the execution of all Christian converts residing in their country, Christian Today reported.
Afghan Christians appealed to the international community to help Christians who still reside in Afghanistan. This was stated in a letter the 150 Afghan Christian converts issued. They are now refugees in New Delhi, Christian Today said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is backed by the U.S. government, stated early this month that efforts would be intensified to offset Christian activities in the country, Washington Examiner said.
The 2004 Afghan constitution, which was drawn up with much input from the U.S., stated that people would be free to practice their religious faiths, Washington Examiner said.
However, the same constitution said the practices fall under the provisions of Afghan law. Sharia, the Muslim code, states that practicing any faith other than Islam is punishable by death, Washington Examiner said.
In 2001, under the Taliban, public executions were common including those accused of trying to convert Muslims, the Washington Examiner said.
Afghan Christians appealed to the world to decry “egregious injustices” and “blatant human rights violations” that are being committed against Christians living in Afghanistan, Christian Today said.
The letter was sent after riots erupted in Afghanistan last month, when Noorin TV released a documentary that showed supposed Afghan Christian converts, Christian Today said.
Noorin TV receives funds from the Northern Alliance and is viewed as anti-government. Two Afghan Christians who were shown in the program were arrested and a member of parliament called for the public execution of all Afghan converts, World said.
This instigated the government clampdown on Christians. World said that a list of some 14 NGOs and 25 foreign and local Christians was drawn up for investigation. Reports have also been received of Afghan Christians being arrested and their property being searched, Christian Today said.
Christian Today also reported of Christians being arrested and tortured to coerce them to disclose any names of Christian converts, and to reveal where underground churches meet.
Amid such escalation of activities, both the UN and the U.S may have to make known where they stand with regard to religious intolerance in Afghanistan. The Washington Examiner said it was important also for Hindus and other minority religious groups in the country.
Two Christian groups, Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid are currently under investigation and have been suspended from doing work in Afghanistan, Christian Today said.
Two government officials, the Afghan minister of the Interior and the director of the country’s Security Department resigned unexpectedly this month. Despite the official reason being failure to prevent a Taliban attack in Karzai, both officials also were previously affiliated with Western NGOs, one of them with Norwegian Church Aid, World said.
According to World, Christians are only a small minority but they tend to be associated with Westerners. The point was expressed that Christians may be fodder to further exert pressure on Karzai, who is losing popularity.
Karzai is trying to engage in peace talks with the Taliban and is eager to show that he works independently of NATO and the U.S., although the latter two are fund sources for his government, World said.