Afghanistan is located in Southern Asia, and neighbours Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. 99% of the population adheres to Islam. 80% are Sunni Muslims and 19% are Shi’a Muslims. Afghan Persia and Pashtu are the official languages in Afghanistan; however, at least 31 other languages are spoken amongst the populace.
The Taliban emerged in 1994 to end the civil war and anarchy. Following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, a joint military action ended the Taliban rule. In 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan.
The Afghan Constitution makes Islam the state religion and guarantees the freedom of religion to its citizens. However, the Constitution also restricts religious freedom by stating that non-Muslim faith groups must practice their beliefs within the confines of the law, which is in complete agreement with the values of Islam.
The media is not permitted to publish any information that is offensive to religious groups in Afghanistan; however, the limitations on publishing information are extremely vague. In cases where there is no penalty in the legal code, Shari’a law is used.
Public school curriculum includes Islamic studies. Non-Muslims are not required to take courses about Islam; yet, religious classes about other faiths are not offered. There are no Christian and Jewish schools in Kabul, and there is only one synagogue.
International Treaties Signed by Afghanistan
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
Canada-Afghanistan Diplomatic Relations
Information about Canada’s relationship with Afghanistan
Canadian Embassy in Afghanistan
Canadian representatives in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s representatives in Canada
For prayer requests, see the alerts, or the general page of prayer for the Persecuted Church.
General information about Afghanistan
Information about human rights in Afghanistan
Information about the persecuted Church in Afghanistan (from the Voice of the Martyrs Canada)
Related EFC Religious Liberty Commission Alerts
Note: Alerts are in reverse chronological order, beginning with most recent.
UPDATE: Afghan Christian Facing Imminent Execution
Thank you for praying. God has swifty answered our prayers. Said Musa, released!! Read more here.
Afghan Christian Facing Imminent Execution for His Faith - Your action is required immediately!
SOURCE: (Christian Post, Barnabas Aid, National Review, Daily Mail Reporter, Voice of the Martyrs)
A 45 year-old father of six young children, a Red Cross worker for 16 years fitting prosthetic limbs - himself an amputee is facing the death penalty for refusing to surrender his commitment to Christ Said Musa is expected to face an Afghanistan judge in the next week on charges of apostasy, after converting to Christianity eight years ago. Mr. Musa claims he was visited by a judge who told him he would be hanged within days unless he converted back to Islam. Read more ...
Leaders' Comments Create Worldwide Fear for Safety of Afghan Christians
SOURCES: (World Evangelical Alliance, Washington Examiner, AFP News Source, New York Times, Assist News Service)
Read the URGENT Letter to the Body of Christ Globally, from your Christian Brothers and Sisters in Afghanistan
Afghan Christian refugees in India have released an urgent plea to the Body of Christ globally for prayer and practical action after some Afghanistan government representatives publically demanded the enforcement of Sharia law (arrest, punishment and possibly death) pertaining to any conversion activity by Christians, NGOs, and foreign aid groups in Afghanistan. Read more ...
Evangelical South Korean Aid Workers Held Hostage
SOURCE: (World Evangelical Alliance, The Voice of the Martyrs Canada)
Urgent Prayer Request
Twenty-two Evangelical South Korean Aid Workers, most of whom are young women, continue to be held hostage in Afghanistan. The South Koreans were seized from a bus travelling from the city of Kandahar to the Afghan capital, Kabul in what has been the largest-scale abduction of foreigners since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
The South Koreans belong to the "SaemmulChurch" in Bundang, a city outside South Korea's capital, Seoul and were in Afghanistan working with the aid organization Korean Action.
Last week, one of the hostages was killed by the hostage takers, increasing concerns over the safety of the remaining hostages. The South Korean government has banned travel to Afghanistan and has engaged in urgent talks with the Afghan government over the crisis. Read more ...
Afghanistan Update: Mr. Rahman freed. Deep concerns remain
Sources: (Associated Press, BBC News, CBC News)
We are delighted to report that a court in Afghanistan has dismissed the case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan man who could have faced the death penalty for “rejecting Islam” after converting to Christianity 16 years ago. He was freed from Kabul's main high security Pul-e-Charki prison late on Monday, March 27. Efforts have since been under way to find a country that will grant Mr. Rahman asylum. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said today that Italy will likely grant asylum to Mr. Rahman, whom he called "courageous.”
According to court officials, Mr. Rahman’s case was dismissed after he was deemed “mentally unfit” to stand trial. It is clear that this decision and Mr. Rahman’s release came as a result of massive international pressure, and not a genuine recognition of religious freedom or universal human rights; the anti-apostasy laws under which Mr. Rahman was charged remain in place.
Deep Concerns Remain
We are grateful for Mr. Rahman’s release. However, the very fact that he was arrested and charged in the first place is a violation of basic human rights that must be addressed.
This case has highlighted the ambiguity of Afghanistan's constitution regarding the interpretation of religious issues. The constitution was drafted to address Western concerns as well as to appease Afghanistan’s religious hardliners who favour an Islamic state. As a result, the constitution enshrines personal freedom and recognizes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights while also saying that the country's laws are based on Islamic law, and that no one has the right to contravene Islam. The Afghan people deserve a constitution that unambiguously protects their freedom to choose, to practice, and to change their religion without fear.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and call on the Canadian government to work closely with President Karzai and his government to make the necessary changes to ensure this kind of incident does not reoccur.
Thank God for Mr. Rahman’s release. Pray for his safety and protection as he is still in danger while in Afghanistan. Pray that he is able to find asylum in a new country very soon.
Pray for President Karzai and the Afghan government. Pray that they would make courageous, effective, and lasting changes to allow full religious freedom in the country, including the freedom to convert from Islam.
Pray that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other international leaders would act courageously in defence of religious freedom, that they would make this issue a priority as they govern, and that they would work with Afghan leaders to ensure real change comes to the country.
Afghanistan Update: As International Pressure Mounts, Afghan sources suggest Rahman could be released as soon as Monday
(Sources: Associated Press, BBC News)
International pressure about the case of Mr. Abdul Rahman has been building, and the Afghan government may be rethinking the charges against Mr. Rahman. According to the Associated Press (AP), an Afghan government official has said that Mr. Rahman could be released as soon as Monday, March 27.
President Hamid Karzai has declined to comment directly on the case, however statements put out by his office seem to emphasize that while the government respects human rights and personal freedom, the country has an independent judicial system.
Ansarullah Mawlavi Zada, the chief among three judges trying Mr. Rahman’s case, continues to defend the court's autonomy, and senior clerics in the Afghan capital have voiced strong support for the execution of Rahman and have warned that they would incite people to kill him unless he reverted to Islam. "We have constitution and law here. Nobody has the right to put pressure on us," he told the AP.
Afghanistan's constitution, drafted in 2004, enshrines Islam as the state religion, and states that no law can contravene Islam. However, the constitution also affords protection for personal freedom and respect for international human rights conventions. Some say it is “a deliberately ambiguous document which tries to paper over the cracks and contradictions of Afghanistan." The contradictions have now risen to the surface.
Pray that President Karzai and the Afghan government would resist pressure from extremists, and respond to Canadian and international pressure by intervening in the case and releasing Mr. Rahman.
Pray that Abdul Rahman will be strengthened and comforted by the Lord Jesus and that his faith will not waver.
Pray that international leaders would continue to act courageously in defence of religious freedom.
Afghanistan Update: Canadian Prime Minister Calls Afghan President, Expresses Concern
(Sources: Globe and Mail, Office of the Prime Minister)
This is an update to our alert below regarding the trial of Mr. Abdul Rahman, an Afghan Christian who may face the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity. Conversion from Islam is considered a criminal offence under the country’s Islamic laws.
According to a statement by the Office of the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier today [March 22] specifically to discuss Mr. Rahman’s case.
During the conversation, Mr. Harper reportedly expressed “deep concerns” regarding the specific case and religious freedom in Afghanistan. According to the Prime Minister’s statement, President Karzai assured Mr. Harper at the close of the conversation that “respect for human and religious rights will be fully upheld” in Mr. Rahman’s case.
The presiding judge in Mr. Rahman’s case is expected to deliver a verdict within two months [some reports say within two weeks].
The EFC RLC is greatly encouraged by Mr. Harper’s willingness to act swiftly in defence of religious freedom. We continue to monitor the situation in Afghanistan closely, and will send updates on this case as it develops.
At this time, we encourage you to write a brief note to thank Prime Minister Harper. Below is a sample letter.
You can send your note by email, mail or fax:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON. K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister:
I would like to express my gratitude to you for contacting the Afghan President to express your concern regarding the case of Mr. Abdul Rahman and religious freedom in Afghanistan. Your words accurately reflect my own concerns and those of many Canadians regarding the importance of protecting religious freedom around the world. Thank you for your commitment to protecting religious freedom, Mr. Harper.
Pray that the Afghan government would resist pressure from extremists, and respond to Canadian and international pressure by releasing and exonerating Mr. Rahman.
Pray that Abdul Rahman will be strengthened and comforted by the Lord Jesus and that his faith will not waver.
Afghan man may face death penalty for converting to Christianity
(Sources: Associated Press, CBC News, Globe and Mai)
Mr. Abdul Rahman (41), an Afghan citizen and a Christian, has been charged with rejecting Islam and may face the death penalty. The presiding judge of Kabul's Primary Court, Judge Alhaj Ansarullah Mawawy Zada, is due to pass sentence in two weeks.
Mr. Rahman converted from Islam to Christianity nearly 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Mr. Rahman recently returned to Afghanistan to seek custody of his two daughters. Police reportedly arrested him last month after discovering him in possession of a Bible during a custody dispute.
Religious Freedom in Afghanistan
Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shari’a (Islamic) law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death. When Mr. Rahman’s trial began earlier this month, prosecutors offered to drop the charges if he converted back to Islam, but he has refused. If convicted, Mr. Rahman could be executed. Mr. Rahman is not believed to have a lawyer.
This case is the first of its kind in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001. It highlights the ongoing struggle between the country’s religious conservatives and reformists over the shape Islam should take in the country.
“Unfit” to stand trial?
According to recent reports, prosecutors have announced they believe Mr. Rahman may be mentally unfit to stand trial, and will undergo a psychological examination. A religious advisor to the country’s President has stated that if Mr. Rahman is found to be “mentally unfit” to stand trial, “Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped."
Some sources within Afghanistan suggest that the country’s government is eager to drop the case because of the international reaction it has sparked.
Responding to the case
The EFC RLC has expressed its grave concern regarding Mr. Rahman’s case to the Canadian government. EFC staff has met with the Deputy Director of the South Asia Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and sent a letter to the Hon. Peter McKay, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Canadian government released a statement yesterday noting their concern regarding the case. In the statement, they noted that they are looking further into the case and that Canada is encouraging the Afghanistan government to adhere to its human rights obligations. Afghanistan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which enshrines freedom of religion.
At this point in time, we urge you to pray for Mr. Rahman and for this case. If there is something more to be done in the near future, including letter writing, we will provide materials and directions promptly.
We will continue to update you on this case as it develops.
Pray that Abdul Rahman will be strengthened and comforted by the Lord Jesus and that his faith will not waver.
Pray that Abdul Rahman will not be sentenced to death, and that this precedent will allow other Afghan converts from Islam to live freely and safely in their homeland.
Pray for Afghanistan’s government and religious leadership. Pray that they will protect the religious freedom of their people and uphold human rights despite pressure from extremists.
16 Afghan Co-Workers Freed!
(Source: Compass Direct)
This morning, the safe release of the 16 Afghan co-workers of the Christian charity, Shelter Now, was confirmed. The 16 Afghan aid workers were arrested with the 8 western aid workers 14 weeks ago.
The Taliban regime had refused any access to, or information regarding, the Afghan staff, although sources in Kabul had been told last month that Taliban investigators had found no evidence against them and would be releasing them soon.
Deputy U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) today that all the Afghan staff of Shelter Now had been released on Tuesday, when Northern Alliance forces took Kabul from Taliban control.
From Germany, a spokesman for Shelter Now confirmed to Compass today that three of their jailed Afghan staff had been released and crossed into Pakistan earlier this week. Others have telephoned their Peshawar office in northwest Pakistan over the past two days to confirm they had been freed, the spokesman said.
Shelter Now's eight Western and 16 Afghan staff had been jailed in early August on charges of spreading Christianity among Afghan Muslims, a capital offense under the Taliban's harsh Islamic rule.
Praise our mighty God who delivered these aid workers from death.
Pray that they would be able to find their families quickly, and that God would provide them with food and shelter and safety this winter.
Pray that all of the Afghan aid workers would find spiritual, as well as physical, salvation through Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city. In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Afghanistan-Aid Workers Freed!
(Source: WorldNetDaily.com, taken from NBC News)
Praise God! The eight foreign aid workers on trial by the Taliban for spreading Christianity have been released! See below for links to additional articles online.
"IT WAS LIKE A MIRACLE," German detainee Georg Taubmann told reporters on arrival at his country's embassy in Islamabad.
As the Taliban was fleeing Kabul early Tuesday morning, the eight thought they were about to be freed, he said. But instead, the Taliban threw them into a vehicle and took them south as the troops retreated.
But shortly after they were placed in a jail cell in Ghazni, they heard bombing by U.S. warplanes. An hour later, an uprising against the Taliban began, and soon afterward, Northern Alliance troops broke into the prison.
"They just opened the doors, and we were actually afraid the Taliban were coming and taking us to Kandahar," he said. "We were really scared."
But to their relief, Taubmann and the others were treated as heroes when they emerged on the streets of Ghazni. "We walked into the city, and the people came out of the houses, and they hugged us, and they greeted us. They were all clapping," he said. "They didn't know there were foreigners in the prison.... I think it was one of the biggest days of my life."
A local military commander in the Afghan province of Ghazni contacted a Red Cross official in Afghanistan on Tuesday night to say he had rescued the workers from the Taliban, according to an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Islamabad.
The commander asked the Red Cross to facilitate the transfer of the aid workers to safety. On Wednesday, three U.S. special operations helicopters landed in a field near Ghazni in the middle of the chill Afghan night to pick up the aid workers, the Pentagon said.
The two Americans, two Australians and four Germans - all working for the Germany-based Christian aid organization Shelter Now International - arrived safely in Pakistan Thursday. They appeared to be in good physical condition and were taken to a Pakistani military base and then reunited with family in Islamabad. "This effort involved many people and several entities," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in a statement. "U.S. forces performed the extraction well, and the American people can be proud of them."
Two senior administration officials said that before the Taliban fled Ghazni, it had agreed to turn over the aid workers through the Red Cross, which would get them to U.S. troops. But before the exchange could occur, the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance overran Ghazni, prompting the Taliban and the workers' guards to flee. A U.S. official told NBC News that the CIA also had been working on the ground to help free the workers.
President Bush, who had rejected several attempts by the Taliban to use the aid workers as bargaining chips, said from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, he was thankful the aid workers are safe. He said he had been very worried about them, in particular concerned that they might have been moved into a building that was the target of U.S. bombs.
Their rescue came after five weeks of U.S. military airstrikes against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida forces. The workers had been awaiting trial after being detained by the Islamic hard-line Taliban for allegedly spreading Christianity.
Taliban Supreme Court judges had indefinitely postponed the trial of the aid workers, saying they feared anger at the United States over the airstrikes could hamper their ability to rule fairly in the case.
The foreign detainees, who were arrested in early August, have been identified as Australians Peter Bunch and Diana Thomas, Americans Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer, and Germans Taubmann, Katrin Jelinek, Margrit Stebner and Silke Durrkopf.
Several people gathered Wednesday afternoon in front of a TV set at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, where both American detainees are parishioners. When news aired that the workers had been released, senior pastor Jimmy Seibert thrust his arms into the air and shouted, "Thank you, Lord."
"It is more exciting than we could have imagined," he said. "The great thing I learned is that prayer works ... that if we persevere, ask God for what's on his heart, we can trust him to see us through."
'HOPE FOR US EVERY DAY'
In Nashville, Tenn., Curry's stepmother, Sue Fuller, said she was elated at her stepdaughter's release. "I'm so excited that we're going to see her soon and that she's safe," Fuller said. "I just think, you know, she trusted that God would take care of her and get her out of there safely, and it's happened."
Earlier John Mercer, father of American detainee Heather Mercer, said withdrawing Taliban forces had taken the aid workers to Kandahar after their retreat from Kabul. He said the aid workers seemed to have been taken in haste from a detention center in Kabul, forced to leave personal belongings behind.
While in captivity, Curry and Mercer wrote letters to their family thanking them and others for their support and prayers, according to a copy of the notes delivered by a friend to NBC affiliate WRC-TV in Washington. "I hope that in light of all the world's changing events, that your lives are carrying on with some level of normalcy," Mercer wrote. "I have seen more clearly in my time here what an exciting hour this world is in; but equally or more so what a dangerous hour. This helps to keep me sober and thankful. Right now I'm writing in the middle of the night, under a blanket with a flashlight. The lights across the city are shut down every evening to prepare for the aerial and fireworks show. No light is allowed. Besides its often hard to sleep in anticipation of the evening's events, so writing becomes my great joy. I want to thank you with all my heart for every way you've stood with me. Really your remembrances are hope for us every day."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Jim Miklaszewski and Tammy Kupperman; MSNBC.com's Jonathan Dube; as well as The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Praise God for his power and faithfulness in releasing his children from captivity!
Pray for the 16 Afghan aid workers who were jailed for cooperating with Christian agencies. Under Afghan law, they may face the death penalty. Their whereabouts and status are not known.
Pray for the hearts of the judges who tried their case and the soldiers who held them captive. Pray that they might be touched by the love of Christ and know him as their Lord and Savior.
Detained Aid workers moved to Kandahar
(Source: Christian Solidarity International)
According to Associated Press, the eight Shelter Now International aid workers detained in Kabul for allegedly preaching Christianity had been whisked off in a black four-wheel drive at midnight last night (13/11/01) to Kandahar, the southern Taliban stronghold and birthplace of the movement, about 240 miles south of the capital.
Columns of Taliban troops retreated from the capital last night as the opposition Northern Alliance broke through their defenses and moved swiftly towards the city.
Eye-witnesses said the eight foreigners were in good condition when they left. However, it is unclear whether the Taliban who took the aid workers were from a government ministry or whether they were acting on their own accord.
Since the end of October, the Taliban’s supreme court has indefinitely postponed the aid workers’ trial. The eight expatriate relief workers were arrested on August 3, after being accused of preaching Christianity among Afghan Muslims. Since then, over 50 Afghan aid workers have also been jailed on suspicion of complicity in the foreigners’ alleged missionary activities. The whereabouts of the Afghan detainees remain unknown.
In a fax message sent last month, Georg Taubmann, the director of Shelter Now Germany, wrote: "God is in control of this whole situation, and despite all that is going on, we have a deep peace and have put our trust in Him."
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." Ps. 91:14-16
Please continue to pray for the protection and release of Georg Taubmann (German), Margrit Stebner (German), Katy Jelinek (German), Silke Duerrkopf (German), Peter Bunch (Australian), Diana Thomas (Australian), Heather Mercer (American) and Dana Curry (American).
Pray for the Afghan aid workers who were detained at the same time. Pray for them, that they would somehow survive this ordeal. Many of those who were detained do not appear to have been Christians. Pray that they would come to know the freedom that only comes though Jesus Christ.
Pray also for their families during this difficult and dangerous time.
Afghani Christians arrested for spreading the gospel
(Source: Globe & Mail, National Post, Compass Direct, World Evangelical Fellowship, Amnesty International, Middle East Concern, Religion Today)
As we all watched with horror last week as terrorists attacked in the U.S., we pray for wisdom for world leaders as they respond to this crisis. We encourage you to pray for the following situations of war and persecution which may be affected by the current crisis as well.
Afghanistan: Additional Afghan nationals have been arrested for spreading Christianity. Taliban authorities arrested 35 more Afghan aid workers, bringing the total to more than 50 Afghans jailed by the strict Islamist regime since early August on suspicion of aiding covert Christian missionary work. At least 35 Afghans employed by the recently banned International Assistance Mission (IAM) were taken into custody at the Planning Ministry office in Kabul when they came to get their salary payment. The Taliban have accused IAM and another Christian agency, SERVE, of links with the Shelter Now relief organization, shut down in early August for allegedly trying to convert Muslim Afghans to Christianity. All the aid workers are now in grave jeopardy.
Please pray for those jailed in Afghanistan who are accused of spreading Christianity.
Pray for their safety and that they will continue to have hope.
Please also pray for their release.
Trial begins for eight foreign aid workers in Afghanistan
(Source: CBC, NBC, Compass Direct)
The trial of the eight foreign aid workers accused of spreading Christianity has started in Afghanistan. Before the trial began, the chief judge of the Taliban promised that the trial would be open to journalists and diplomats. This has not been the case. The diplomats waited for 30 minutes outside the Supreme Court in Kabul where Chief Justice Noor Mohammed Saqib was in a meeting.
The chief justice is also reported to have suggested that the penalty for the foreigners could be more severe than originally expected. The Taliban ruled last year that the punishment for a foreigner caught proselytizing would be a jail term and expulsion from the country. The Afghan Islamic Press reported Saqib as saying that he would not rule out hanging “if the crime is worthy of hanging.”
The trial is conducted by Muslim clerics and judges. It is not known whether the accused have yet been called to appear. It is also not clear whether the accused have access to lawyers to help them plead their case. The case will be decided under shariah, or Islamic law. Members of the Red Cross, relatives and diplomats have been permitted to see the jailed workers and report that they are healthy.
In the meantime, the Taliban closed down two more Christian relief aid agencies in Kabul, the International Assistance Mission (IAM) and Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises (SERVE). Foreign aid workers were given 72 hours to leave the country. IAM had been operating in Afghanistan for more than 35 years. Its two eye hospitals and several clinics were closed.
Eight aid workers with Shelter Now International, a German-based organization, were arrested along with 16 Afghan nationals, for promoting an “abolished” religion, Christianity. The penalty for the Afghani nationals is death if they are found guilty of promoting Christianity. A group of some 60 children were seized because the Taliban said they had been influenced by Christianity. The children have since been released.
Please pray for the eight aid workers jailed in Afghanistan. Pray that they will not be discouraged.
Pray that the Taliban will decide to have an open and fair hearing for the workers. Pray that they will be lenient.
Pray for the families of the aid workers, that they will not lose heart.
Pray also for the Afghani nationals who may receive harsh treatment at the hands of the Taliban.
Foreign aid workers in Afghanistan arrested
(Source: The Ottawa Citizen, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, Freedom Now World News, Voice of the Martyrs, World Evangelical Fellowship)
The Taliban rulers in Afghanistan have arrested 8 foreign and 16 Afghan aid workers on charges that they were evangelizing and attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. On Friday August 3, two of the women were visiting an Afghan family when the Taliban came to the house and arrested them and the family. They are with the humanitarian aid organization Shelter Now International, a German relief organization that split from an American organization of the same name a decade ago. The Taliban have sealed off their office and confiscated computers and other materials. The Taliban displayed Bibles and other Christian literature in the Afghan language to show that the aid workers are engaged in proselityzation.
According to Afghan authorities, two of the female foreign workers and some of the arrested Afghans confessed to leading Muslims to Christ. Proselytizing and converting from Islam are crimes punishable by death. It is believed that the foreigners will be expelled from the country, while the Afghans may be executed. A group of about 60-65 street children are also being held by the Taliban, which claims that they had been influenced by Christianity. These children are to be re-educated in Islam. A further 64 Afghans have been arrested for receiving Christianity. This is a very grave situation.
Shelter Now has issued a statement that they are not an evangelical Christian organization. They describe themselves as a humanitarian organization, working in a street children project and helping with water supplies in Afghanistan. No one has been allowed to visit those who have been arrested. The foreigners are American, German and Australian. Embassy staff have not been permitted visits. Those arrested have also been denied access to lawyers.
Please pray for the safety of the foreign aid workers and the Afghans who are being detained. The Afghan nationals will probably be treated far more harshly than the foreigners will.
Pray for wisdom for all groups in negotiation with the Taliban.
Pray for the other humanitarian aid organizations in Afghanistan as this particular situation could jeopardize their efforts to help those in need.
Pray for the Christians in Afghanistan who meet secretly in homes to encourage one another.
Hindus forced to wear labels to distinguish themselves in Afghanistan
(Source: Globe & Mail, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade)
The ruling Taliban regime of Afghanistan announced on May 22 an edict that will require Hindus to wear a bright saffron label to distinguish them from the majority Muslims. The edict will also require Hindu women to wear a veil. Hindus will also be required to place a 2 metre long strip of saffron cloth on their homes. Hindus in Afghanistan are concerned that the distinguishing mark will attract harassment and crimes against them.
The edict will not come into force until it has been approved by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Talisban’s supreme ruler. The Taliban argues that the wearing of badges by non-Muslims will allow the religious police to better enforce Muslim law on the 95 percent Muslim population. It also says that Islamic law requires non-Muslims to be identified yet other Islamic states, such as Iran and Iraq, do not require religious minorities to be identifiable.
The government of India, which has a majority Hindu population, has reacted very strongly against the edict. Many other governments around the world, including the Canadian government, have strongly condemned this edict. Keith Landry, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, commented, “this is a chilling reminder of those times” referring to the Nazi requirement that Jews wear yellow Stars of David. “Such laws are never passed for the benefit of the minority affected,” he stated.
The Afghanistan government has ignored international pressure condemning their harsh interpretation of Islam that bars women from most employment and from education and for the destruction of ancient statues of Buddha.
Please pray for the Hindus living in Afghanistan, for their protection and their peace.
Pray for the people of Afghanistan who live under an oppressive and intolerant regime.
Pray for the ruling Taliban, that they will recognize that their harsh interpretation of Islam is harming the Afghani people.
There are no Christians in Afghanistan. Please pray that the light of Christ would come to this oppressive land.