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Afghan Christians Fear Their Community Will Be Treated Like Criminals

09/24/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a member of the Taliban’s interim government and chief enforcer of the group’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, has said that the executions and other brutal punishments will be carried out as a part of the group’s rule in Afghanistan. This announcement has struck fear into the hearts of Afghan Christians, who are concerned that they will be viewed as criminals by the Taliban due to their conversion to Christianity.

In an interview with The Associated Press (AP), Turabi dismissed international outrage over the brutality of the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s. As the Taliban’s Justice Minister and head of the Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, effectively the religious police, Turabi oversaw brutal punishments, such as executions and amputations, that took place in sports stadiums and mosques.

Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi told the AP. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam, and we will make our laws on the Quran.

Cutting off of hands is very necessary for security,” Turabi continued, telling the AP that it had a deterrent effect. He went on to explain that the new government was still studying whether to carry out punishments in public.

On August 15, the Taliban entered Kabul in a lightning-fast victory over the former government’s forces. On September 7, the group formed an interim government filled with religious hardliners from the Taliban’s oppressive rule in the 1990s.

Turabi’s announcement that the Taliban intends to return to the group’s brutal and oppressive enforcement of Sharia law has many Afghan Christians bracing for persecution.

According to the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Sharia, Afghan Christians will be viewed as apostates due to their conversion from Islam to Christianity. As apostates, Afghan Christians will be subject to Sharia’s deadliest consequences, including execution.

Afghanistan’s Christian community, estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000, is almost exclusively comprised of converts from Islam. It is this status as converts that makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution and likely to suffer under the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan.

ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “We here at International Christian Concern are very concerned for the safety of Afghan Christians under the rule of the Taliban. Since forming their interim government, the Taliban have been showing us how they intend to rule Afghanistan. For Afghan Christians and other marginalized communities, the Taliban’s brutal and oppressive rule will likely mean increased persecution. Afghan Christians are particularly vulnerable due to their backgrounds as converts. Under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia, Afghan Christians will not be viewed as a religious minority. Instead, they will be treated like criminals if their identities are discovered. The international community must take action to protect and rescue this vulnerable community.

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