Afghan Christians Brace for Taliban Oppression
09/09/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Taliban are leading a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests for human rights and journalists attempting to cover protests. The crackdown comes days after the Taliban announced an interim government filled with hardline figures from the group’s rule in the 1990s.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, Taliban authorities in Afghanistan are detaining and assaulting journalists attempting to cover peaceful protests led by women and girls protesting the Taliban’s violations of their rights.
“Taliban authorities claimed that they would allow the media to function so long as they ‘respected Islamic values,’ but they are increasingly preventing journalists from reporting on demonstrations,” Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said. “The Taliban need to ensure that all journalists are able to carry out their work without abusive restrictions or fear of retribution.”
Since early September, Afghan women and girls have led protests against the Taliban’s violations of their rights, including their right to education and access to employment. Taliban security forces have cracked down on these protests, often breaking up the demonstrations using violence. On September 7, the Taliban announced that protests in general are illegal unless approved by the Justice Ministry in advance.
Journalists attempting to cover the protests, and the violent methods employed by the Taliban, have come under increasing threat. On September 7, Taliban security forces detained Taqi Daryabi and Nemat Naqdi, journalists from Etilaat-e Roz, as they covered a protest in Kabul. The two men were taken to a police station in Kabul, placed in separate cells, and severely beaten with cables. Both were released on September 8.
“Taliban authorities are obligated under international law to respect and uphold everyone’s right to peaceful protests and to respect the rights of women and girls,” Gossman said. “Concerned governments should press the Taliban to protect free expression and peaceful assembly.”
For the country’s other minorities, both ethnic and religious, the Taliban’s crackdown on protests and journalists has them bracing for increased oppression and persecution. Afghan Christians in particular fear the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Sharia law.
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 apostates and subject them to Sharia’s deadliest consequences.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are deeply concerned by the Taliban’s crackdown on protests and journalists in Afghanistan. The actions of Taliban authorities are an indicator of how they will rule and likely treat minorities. We are especially concerned for what this means for Afghanistan’s Christian community. As converts from Islam, Afghan Christians will not be viewed as a religious minority, but a community of criminals the Taliban must punish. Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Afghanistan was one of the hardest places in the world to be a Christian. With the Taliban now in complete control and likely to return the country to the oppression of the 1990s, it will be nearly impossible to be a Christian in Afghanistan.”
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