Afghanistan’s Minorities Face Existential Threat Following Withdrawal of International Troops
07/09/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN), Christians and other religious minorities in Afghanistan face an existential threat following the withdrawal of international forces from the country.
During a recent hearing held by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director for the Asia Program at the Wilson Center, said, “The withdrawal will make these vulnerable communities even more vulnerable. It’s as simple as that.”
“They are all under fairly serious attack by extremist groups especially by ISIS K and the Taliban,” USCIRF Commissioner Fred Davie told CBN.
With U.S. troop leaving the region, religious freedom advocates are attempting to inject protections for religious minorities in negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. So far, these attempts have failed.
Extremist groups like the Taliban and ISIS K have taken advantage of the withdrawal of international forces to expand their control over much of Afghanistan. These groups are known to target religious minorities, including Christians, in territories they control.
Afghanistan’s Christian community is almost exclusively comprised of converts from Islam. This status as converts makes them direct targets for persecution by extremist groups openly operating in Afghanistan.
According to Open Doors, “It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts can face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they must flee the country, or they will be killed.”
Open Doors ranks Afghanistan second on its World Watch List. The only country to outrank Afghanistan in Christian persecution is North Korea. According to Open Doors, persecution in Afghanistan “is only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea.”
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