Persecution In Afghanistan
No Place Of Refuge
“If you do not return to Islam, we will kill you.” It was the message that Ali,1 a Christian convert and refugee from Afghanistan, received from the men that attacked him one violent and horrifying day at the immigration center where he was staying in Jaeren, Norway.
It began when Ali was asked by two Muslim residents, who were also staying at the center, why he did not fast during the Islamic observance of Ramadan. Ali refused to answer the question, but the men already knew that Ali was an ex-Muslim who had recently converted to Christianity. To them, it was a crime that could not go unpunished.
The men held Ali down, while another smashed a pot of boiling water into the back of his head. As Ali collapsed helplessly onto the floor, several other Muslim men joined in the attack and began trashing Ali’s room. When authorities arrived more than an hour later, Ali was still lying on the floor, in too much pain to even speak.
Ali was taken to the hospital, where he spent the night and returned to the immigration center the next day. But when he attempted to enter his room, he found an acidic substance, one that burns skin on contact, smeared onto the door handle.
Out of fear for his life, Ali has since moved to another location. He survived this incident with blistered, flaking skin on his neck and back, but he knows that the men who sought to kill him are just a few of the many Muslims who harbor deep, murderous hatred for Christians — the primary reason he fled Afghanistan and sought refuge in another country in the first place. Sadly, the attack in Norway proved that Ali, as an Afghan Christian, is not safe even in another country.
And he is not alone in his plight.
The State Of Persecution In Afghanistan
- In Afghanistan, conversion from Islam to Christianity is considered a serious crime, punishable by death according to Islamic law. Abdul Latif, a Christian father, was brutally beheaded in June 2011 by four Islamic militants in the town of Enjeel for the “crime” of converting to Christianity.
- As Muslim domination increases, Christians — both foreign and indigenous — are being systematically purged from the country. According to an online statement posted by the Taliban in October 2011, the organization warned that:
“According to our reports…Christian evangelists and social organizations are directly inviting Afghans to Christianity… These infidels, enemies of Islam under the name of corrupt democracy and their lords, need to know that the Afghan Islamic Emirate is seriously taking your activities into consideration… The Afghan Islamic Emirate will take practical measures and has already made special plans to destroy all [their] centers one by one; the centers where plans are made that destroy the holy religion of Islam and Afghan culture.”
- As a result of intensifying persecution, hundreds of Christians have fled Afghanistan and sought asylum in countries such as India, Norway, and Britain. Many of them, however, have been denied refugee status by the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR), forcing them into hiding for fear of being deported back to Afghanistan.
- A 2010 International Religious Freedom report, published by the U.S. State Department, indicates that no public Christian churches or schools exist at all in Afghanistan, with the last church having been destroyed in March 2010. According to the report, a growing hostility towards Christians has been one of the reasons for the dwindling presence of such facilities, as well as a declining level of respect for religious freedom at government levels.
- Church growth. Although the exact number of underground Christians is difficult to pinpoint, the church continues to grow in Afghanistan despite harsh persecution. To avoid being detected, these believers are constantly forced to meet secretly and in varying locations. Pray for the safety of each and every one of these Christians who remain in Afghanistan, and pray that more will be added to their numbers. Also pray that, as the minority Christian population grows, provisions will be made for the construction of new churches and schools.
- Bible translation. Although translation projects have been underway for numerous years, no full Bible translation currently exists in any indigenous language in Afghanistan. Pray that this work will steadily progress so that more people will receive and read the Scriptures during this critical time in Afghan history.
- Media expansion. Media outlets such as TV, radio, and Internet ministries have had a significant impact on reaching the lost for Christ in Afghanistan. Pray that these resources will continue to be used as effective witnessing and learning tools for thousands of lost and destitute souls in this nation.
Make Your Voice Heard
CFI encourages you to contact appropriate representatives to express your concern about the crisis of persecution and the Christian exodus in Afghanistan:
- United States Congress:
- Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, Ambassador:
The Embassay of Afghanistan
2341 Wyoming Avenue
Washington, DC 20008
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State:
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
phone: (202) 647-4000
Questions for Further Study
- In a recent interview with International Christian Concern, Obaid Christ, an Afghan Christian who has been denied asylum in India, stated, “In the modern world, where we have NATO, the UN, human rights commissions, and governments which claim they fight for democracy and give protection for those who are persecuted, I cannot find a place in this world where I am protected.” What should be the United States’ position on asylum for Afghan refugees who are seeking to emigrate for reasons of Christian persecution?
- What seems to be the future of the church in Afghanistan? Are there any Scriptural references to support your answer?
- Conduct some research on the role of missionaries in Afghanistan over the past 10 years. Has their presence increased or decreased in spite of the growing danger for Christians? How do you think the verses of Matthew 10:28 and Philippians 1:2 would have special meaning for a missionary in Afghanistan today?
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5:11
Help the persecuted church in Afghanistan