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Afghanistan

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The Afghan parliament has issued death threats against Christian converts from Islam

Afghanistan is one of the most hazardous countries in the world for Christians. They live in constant danger of violent persecution by armed groups and also by the government, which threatens to wield the death penalty against those who convert from Islam.

In July 2013 Members of Parliament in Afghanistan called for converts from Islam to Christianity to be killed, in accordance with sharia law. The parliamentary speaker ordered the country’s national security services to take serious steps to stop the spread of Christianity, and the Afghan media launched a vitriolic campaign against Christian converts.

Afghan Christians are thought to number around 1,200 and are all converts from Islam or children of converts. Although none has been executed, a number have been arrested and jailed for a time, and on their release many have fled abroad to escape further persecution. There is deep-rooted public hostility to apostates from Islam, leading to discrimination, harassment and occasional violence against them; converts may lose their spouses and jobs and be rejected by their families. The extremist Taliban have also threatened to target Christians.

Most Christians do not state their beliefs publicly or gather openly for worship. There are no public churches or Christian schools, and believers worship alone or in small congregations in private homes. Anyone suspected of involvement in Christian activities is liable to harassment, and any kind of missionary endeavour may attract fierce opposition.

The conditions of Christians have not been much better under the current government than under the Taliban, an extreme Islamist movement that controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Although the Afghan constitution declares that non-Muslims are free to practise their faith, it also states that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam”. In practice a restrictive interpretation of sharia has become the law of the land.

Despite the desperate situation faced by Christians, the Lord is working in remarkable ways in Afghanistan; house churches there are reportedly seeing more people come to Christ. 

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