06/15/2010, 00.00

Appeal for Afghan Christians, sentenced to death for their faith

Santosh Digal
A group of Afghan Christian refugees, who escaped to India to save their lives, describe the hardships they face in their homeland, where Muslim converts to Christianity are put to death. They call on the international community to put pressure on the Afghan government to spare those sentenced to death.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – VijayKumar Singh, from the India Bible Publishers and the Delhi Bible Fellowship, has launched an appeal to the Christians of India and the world to pray and express their support for Afghan Muslim converts to Christianity who were convicted on conversion charges and sentenced to death on 31 May. Speaking to AsiaNews, Sing said, “We need Christians’ help all over the world to stop the Afghan government from arresting Dari-speaking Afghan Christians and condemning them to death by public execution.”

Afghans consider their country to be 100 per cent Muslim. A local TV station, Noorin TV, recently broadcast a documentary showing photos and videos of secret “Afghan Christian Converts”, which revealed names and showed the faces of alleged Afghan Christian converts.

This was enough to spark riots and demonstrations throughout Afghanistan with protesters demanding strong action to enforce the Afghan constitution, based on Sharia, arrest the culprits, and execute anyone who renege his or her religion in favour of another.

A number of prominent public figures also spoke out on the matter, calling for immediate action. One lawmaker even said that killing a Muslim who converts to Christianity was “not a crime”.

Waheed Omar, the spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, told reporters that the president was “personally” taking an interest in this case, and had ordered his interior minister and the head of the country’s spy agency to carry out a full investigation and “take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon.”

Reports from inside Afghanistan already tell of many arrests in recent days, as well as allegations of torture of those under arrest in an effort to extract forcibly the names of other Afghan Christian converts.

Singh also slams the “perplexing media silence” and demands a strong stance from Christians around the world.

In a letter, Obaid S. Christ, a member of a small group of about 150 Afghan Christian refugees and asylum seekers in India, writes that he and other Afghan Christians “are currently living in exile from their beloved homeland [. . .] forced to flee their country in order to save their life and the lives of their families, due to orders of execution issued against them by the Afghan government for choosing to convert to Christianity.”

Recently, he writes, “The Afghan Home Minister and the Chairman of Afghan Intelligence told the Afghan Parliament that four Afghan Christians and one family had been arrested and that they were under investigation,” and that “13 NGOs are recognized and suspended,” and that the “names of Afghan Christians are listed and the Afghan Intelligence agency wants to arrest them.” He adds, “Our houses are checked by police and intelligence people in Afghanistan, our families and parents (even though they are Muslim) are under investigation and even arrested, and all Afghan believers are missing”.

For this reason, the Afghan Christian community is calling on every Christian “not to be silent or close his or her eyes whilst thousands of fellow believers are persecuted”.

Afghan Christians are asking their fellow Christians to pray for them, “make their voice heard and get the international community to put pressure on the Afghan government to stop killing, persecuting and executing Afghan Christians,” and give us instead “freedom of religion as well as respect and accept us as Afghan Christians.”

Printable version
See also
Christian convert risks death penalty
Afghan convert reaches Italy
Government says justice must decide Christian convert's fate
Iran, a Muslim who converted to Christianity risks the death penalty
Life is God's gift, says Orthodox Christian woman fighting the death penalty