08/29/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Reuters, Pope Francis called for the world’s Christians to fast and pray for the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. This call comes as thousands of at-risk Afghans, including Christians, continue to flee the country.
Speaking at St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said he was following the events in Afghanistan with “great worry” and was mourning the deadly suicide bombing that took place at Kabul airport on Thursday.
“As Christians, this situation commits us,” Pope Francis said. “And because of this, I appeal to everyone to intensify prayer and carry out fasting, praying and fasting, prayer and penitence. Now is the time to do it.”
On Thursday, August 26, twin blasts hit the Abby Gate and Baron Hotel, a location where US and British forces were stationed to help process thousands of Afghans and others feeling the country. The attack left dozens dead, including US troops, Afghan nationals, and children. ISIS claimed responsibility.
The attack has also heightened concerns for the evacuation of Afghan Christians, with International Christian Concern (ICC) reporting the minority community is under “imminent threat” from both the Taliban and ISIS.
“The bombings show the brutality of extremist groups which have no mercy on Afghans, Christians, and others,” Jeff King, President of ICC, said. “The chaos in Afghanistan and at the airport caused by the Taliban and allegedly now ISIS has gone from bad to worse.”
Afghanistan’s Christian community is almost exclusively comprised of converts from Islam. Some estimate the Christian population to be between 8,000 and 12,000, making it one of the country’s largest religious minority groups. However, due to extreme persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.
Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general. In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful, and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.
In many cases, known Christians must flee Afghanistan or risk being killed.
According to the Taliban’s ideology, Afghanistan is a Muslim country, and non-Muslims must leave Afghanistan or accept second-class status. For Christians coming from convert backgrounds, the Taliban will consider them apostate and subject to Sharia’s deadliest consequences.
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