09/03/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) – The Taliban are expected to announce a new government in Afghanistan today following their capture of the country’s capital and the complete withdrawal of US troops. Some reports have indicated the Taliban’s co-founder, Mullah Baradar, will be tapped to lead the new government faced with ruling the war-torn country.
According to reports by the AFP, a government cabinet could be presented by the Taliban in the hours following morning prayers. Ahmadullah Muttaiq, a Taliban official, said on social media that a ceremony was being prepared at Kabul’s presidential palace.
Prior to the invasion of US-led forces, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan through an unelected leadership council that brutally enforced the group’s fundamentalist interpretation of Shariah. Many hope the Taliban’s new government will soften its stance on Shariah and form a more inclusive government.
“We are not taking them at their word. We’re going to take them at their deeds,” US Undersecretary of State, Victoria Nuland, told the Guardian. European Union leaders have said they will not recognize the Taliban’s new government unless they form an inclusive government that respects human rights and provides access to the country for aid workers.
Experts around the world are concerned Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. With the economy in freefall and the countryside affected by a severe drought, many fear food insecurity will quickly become an issue for the thousands who have been displaced by the last 20 years of fighting.
For the country’s religious minorities, the official establishment of the Taliban government has them bracing for increased oppression and persecution. Afghan Christians, in particular, fear the Taliban government’s likely enforcement of Shariah.
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 most brutal punishments.
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