Afghan Christians Fear Violence Due to Taliban’s Interpretation of Sharia
09/23/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a recently released report by Amnesty International documents a broad and brutal crackdown taking place in Afghanistan as the Taliban seek to settle old scores and stamp out any opposition to their strict interpretation of Sharia law. The actions documented in the report contradict the Taliban’s international messaging which has attempted to portray the group as more tolerant and inclusive.
Amnesty International reports that while the Taliban “have attempted to portray to the world that they will respect human rights… the ground reality is far from this.”
“The current situation in Afghanistan is a moment of reckoning,” the report states. “A moment when the human rights gains that the Afghan people have built over two decades is at risk of collapse.”
On August 15, Taliban fighters entered Kabul in a lightning-fast victory over the former government’s forces. On September 7, the Taliban announced the formation of an interim government filled with religious hardliners from the group’s oppressive rule in the 1990s.
Since then, human rights groups and media sources have documented violent crackdowns against the Afghan media, women campaigning for equal rights, and individuals connected to the country’s former government. Unverified reports of targeted killings by Taliban fighters have also been reported.
“This is not just some sort of narrow settling of scores with political or armed enemies,” Daniel Balson, Amnesty International USA’s Advocacy Director for Europe and Central Asia, told NBC. “This is quite broad. Anybody who is seen to be potentially not entirely in accord with this new order has a target on their backs.”
Since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan, Afghan Christians have been under direct threat of persecution. “Some known Christians are already receiving threatening phone calls,” an Afghan Christian leader told ICC days after the Taliban entered Kabul. “In these phone calls, unknown people say, ‘We are coming for you.’”
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. Their status as converts, however, makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution.
According to the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, Afghan Christians are apostates due to their conversions from Islam. As apostates, Afghan Christians will be subject to Sharia’s deadliest consequences under the Taliban’s rule.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “Reports of a broad and brutal crackdown by the Taliban in Afghanistan should not be a surprise. Looking at the individuals selected to lead the interim government, the Taliban have already shown how they intend to rule the country. For Afghan Christians, this likely means they will face brutal oppression and persecution if their identities are discovered. As converts from Islam, Afghan Christians will not be viewed as a religious community, but a group of criminals the Taliban and others who share their ideology must punish. More must be done to protect this vulnerable community.”
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