09/01/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) – According to The Jesuit Review, Pope Francis has questioned the preparations made regarding the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Since the Taliban effectively retook control of the country, scenes of the chaotic withdrawal have dominated headlines.
“The way to negotiate a withdrawal, an exit, from what we see here, it seems that – I don’t want to judge – not all the eventualities were taken into account,” Pope Francis said in an interview with COPE.
Since Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15, the Kabul airport was home to chaotic and deadly scenes as thousands of Afghans and foreigners attempted to flee Afghanistan. Last Thursday, August 26, ISIS-K attacked the airport and a nearby hotel, killing 13 United States soldiers and at least 169 Afghans.
Over the weekend, Pope Francis said that he was following the news out of Afghanistan “with great concern” and called on Christians around the world to fast and pray for the deteriorating situation.
“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.”
With the Taliban’s victory now complete, minorities in Afghanistan are bracing for increased persecution, including the country’s small and secretive Christian community.
“Some known Christians are already receiving threatening phone calls,” the Christian leader told International Christian Concern (ICC) in the days following Kabul’s fall. “In these phone calls, unknown people say, ‘We are coming for you.’”
While ICC has not confirmed any targeted killings of Christians, Release International’s spokesman, Andrew Boyd, claimed at least one Christian has been killed by the Taliban.
“The Taliban have been checking phones to check if there are any bibles downloaded onto their phones,” Boyd told GB News. “We have a report that at least one Hazara has been killed as a result of this.”
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 Shariah’s deadliest consequences.
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