Afghanistan’s terrified Christians are bracing for a new round of persecution in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Christian leaders and aid organizations warn.
“We are telling people to stay in their houses because going out now is too dangerous,” one Afghani Christian leader told the aid organization International Christian Concern (ICC.)
The man, whose name was withheld for security reasons, said Christians in the country fear that Taliban attacks on Christian communities would start soon.
They fear that it is only a matter of time before the attacks happen. “It will be done mafia style,” the Christian leader said. “The Taliban will never take responsibility for the killings.”
He added: “Some known Christians are already receiving threatening phone calls. In these phone calls, unknown people say, ‘We are coming for you.’”
Afghanistan is over 99% Muslim, with the majority being Sunni. There are small groups of Christians, including about 200 Catholics, as well as Buddhists, Hindus, and Baháʼís. There is one Jewish man remaining in the country.
Afghanistan’s Christian community, which is estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000 people, is comprised mostly of converts from Islam and is the country’s largest religious minority group. Due to persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.
Under sharia, including in Afghanistan prior to the Taliban takeover, apostasy from Islam is punishable by death. Converts to Christianity are the frequent target of Islamic extremist groups.
Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban Aug. 15. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country the same day.
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