Afghan Christians live in fear of jail, exile, or worse
“22-year-old Afghan Enayat is one of thousands in the Islamic nation still hoping for religious freedom, ten years after the Taliban’s fall,” AFP reports.
By Emmanuel Duparcq
1/26/2011 Afghanistan (AFP) – Fearing his Christian faith could land him in prison, or worse, 22-year-old Afghan Enayat is one of thousands in the Islamic nation still hoping for religious freedom, ten years after the Taliban’s fall.
“I used to carry my bible everywhere — I don’t any more,” says the baby-faced convert, using a pseudonym for fear of being identified and speaking to AFP at the home of a trusted friend, west of Kabul.
“I don’t want to call myself a Christian, people would think I’m immoral.”
In Afghanistan, where insurgents continue to fight their “holy war” against foreign forces, there are no churches, evangelising is illegal and the country’s constitution forbids conversion from Islam to another religion.
The crime carries the death penalty, although it has not been enforced in recent history.
“If I’m arrested, I would never say I’m a Christian. If you admit it, you (cannot stay in) the country,” he says.
Missionaries and other foreigners suspected of being in Afghanistan to convert others to Christianity have been killed in recent years.
Eight foreign medics, accused by the Taliban of being missionaries, were shot dead in north Afghanistan in August. Their organisation, a Christian aid group which had worked in the country for 45 years, said it never proselytised.
In May pressures rose for the minority group when Afghan local television broadcast footage of men being baptised and reciting Christian prayers in Farsi, apparently in a Kabul house, triggering angry protests.
Two Afghans were arrested on suspicion of converting to Christianity after that incident and are being held in Kabul as their court case drags on.
One of the men, Musa Sayed, who works for the International Committee of the Red Cross and is a friend of Enayat, says in a letter detailing his experience he has been beaten, raped and humiliated “day and night”.