Persecution of Ex-Muslims (Afghanistan)

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Taliban militants kill five Afghan men (including former mullah "Assad Ullah") who had converted to Christianity[edit]

Five Afghan men who had converted to Christianity have been killed in separate incidents since late June near the borders of eastern Afghanistan.

All five men were stabbed or beaten to death in summary executions by Taliban adherents who accused them of abandoning Islam and then “spreading Christianity” in their communities.
. . .
“A group of Taliban dragged out Mullah Assad Ullah and slit his throat with a knife because he was propagating Christianity,” Hakimi told Reuters. “We have enough evidence and local accounts to prove that he was involved in the conversion of Muslims to Christianity.”
. . .

According to local sources, Assad Ullah was seized in broad daylight while at the market buying fruit and vegetables for his family. His attackers reportedly dragged his dead body around the market area, shouting warnings that the same fate awaited anyone else who listened to his heretical teachings.
Five Afghan Christians Martyred
George Whitten, Compass Direct, September 9, 2004

Christians subjected to police raids and threats. Two arrested for apostasy, and another beaten unconscious[edit]

During the past few days, Compass has confirmed the arrest of two other Afghan Christians elsewhere in the country. Because of the sensitive situation, local sources requested that the location of the jailed converts be withheld.

This past weekend, one young Afghan convert to Christianity was beaten severely outside his home by a group of six men, who finally knocked him unconscious with a hard blow to his temple. He woke up in the hospital two hours later but was discharged before morning.
. . .

Several other Afghan Christians have been subjected to police raids on their homes and places of work in the past month, as well as to telephone threats.

Christian convert on trial for apostasy, faces the death penalty. Senior clerics voice strong support for prosecution[edit]

Rahman, a 41-year-old former medical aid worker, faces the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws for becoming a Christian.

Senior clerics in the Afghan capital have voiced strong support for the prosecution and have warned they would incite people to execute Rahman unless he reverted to Islam.

That message was reiterated that at Friday prayers. Rahman had "committed the greatest sin" by converting to Christianity and deserved to be killed, cleric Abdul Raoulf said in his sermon at Herati Mosque. "God's way is the right way, and this man whose name is Abdul Rahman is an apostate," he told about 150 worshippers.
Afghan Clerics Call Christian Convert 'Apostate'
Associated Press, March 24, 2006

Protestors and government minister call for the execution of Christian converts. Reports of widspread arrests, torture and harrasment. 150 Afghan Christians living in exile[edit]

The letter is a response to the riots and demonstrations that broke out in Afghanistan last month, after the independent channel Noorin TV aired a documentary revealing the names and faces of supposed Afghan Christian converts.

Protestors called on President Hamid Karzai to arrest and execute the converts and the deputy secretary of the Afghan Parliament’s Lower House, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, made his own call for the execution of Christian converts from Islam.

The group go on to say that they have received reports of Afghan Christians being arrested and having their homes and businesses searched in recent weeks. There have also been reports that authorities are torturing arrested Christians to force them to reveal the names of other Christian converts and the location of underground churches and fellowships.

They stated: “In light of all these events, and the perplexing media silence on these atrocities occurring in plain view of the international community,
Afghan Christians issue plea for help after execution call
Jenna Lyle, Christian Today,June 21, 2010

Over 20 Afghan Christians detained after high-level leaders called for the arrest and execution of converts to Christianity[edit]

Over 20 Afghan Christians have been detained in Afghanistan after high-level leaders called for the arrest and execution of converts to Christianity in the Islamic nation, an advocacy group said Friday, June 25.
. . .

The reported arrests came after Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a deputy of the lower house, called for Muslim converts to Christianity to be executed. He expressed outrage over footage from Afghan broadcaster Noorin TV showing men it said were reciting Christian prayers in Farsi and being baptized.
. . .

Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a lawmaker from the western province of Herat, said killing a converted Muslim was "not a crime" as converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by death under Afghan law.
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Christian converts in Afghanistan have long faced "extreme obstacles and threats but recent events have brought to light the institutionalized nature of the danger," added CSW Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas.
Afghanistan Christians Detained Amid Execution Threats
Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife, June 25, 2010

Christian Red Cross worker and father of 6, to be executed. Jailed for eight months, he has been sexually abused, beaten, mocked, spat on, and deprived of sleep for leaving Islam[edit]

An Afghani amputee in prison for his Christian faith since May will face a judge this Sunday (Nov. 21) without legal representation or knowledge of the charges against him, according to local sources.

Authorities arrested Said Musa, 45, on May 31, days after the local Noorin TV station broadcast images of Afghan Christians being baptized and worshiping. Though there were other arrests in May and June during the ensuing man-hunt against Christians, Musa is the only known Christian facing a court case.

Turning from Islam is a capital offence under strict Islamic laws still in place in Afghanistan, which was wrested from the Taliban regime’s hard-line Islamist control in 2001.
. . .
In June authorities forced Musa to renounce Christianity publicly on television but have continued to hold him in prison without revealing accusations against him. In prison, Musa has openly said he is a follower of Jesus.

In a hand-delivered letter penned last month to the church worldwide, U.S. President Barack Obama and the heads of NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces, Musa wrote that he was physically and verbally abused by his captors and other prisoners at Ouliat Prison in Kabul.
. . .
In the two-page letter, a copy of which Compass received in late October, Musa addressed Obama as “brother” and pleaded with the international community
. . .
Musa wrote of being sexually abused, beaten, mocked, spat on and deprived of sleep because of his faith in Jesus. He wrote that he would be willing to suffer for his faith in order to encourage and strengthen other Christians in their faith.

Musa also described how he had repented for denying his faith publicly: “I acknowledge my sin before [the] Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Don’t refuse me before your holy angels and before your father because I am a very very weak and [sinful] man.’”
Christian Jailed in Afghanistan to Face Judge on Sunday
Damaris Kremida, Compass Direct, November 16, 2010
AN Afghan man working for the Red Cross said he will be executed unless he converts back to Islam.

Said Musa was detained eight months ago and has been held since then in a Kabul prison, where he said in an interview with The (London) Sunday Times he has been tortured and sexually abused.

Musa, who lost a leg to a land mine in the 1990s and works as a physiotherapist treating fellow amputees, said he was visited by a judge who told him he would be hanged within days unless he reconverted to Islam.

But Musa said he will abide by his Christian faith, even if he had to die for it.

"My body is theirs to do what they want with. Only God can decide if my spirit goes to hell," he said.

Defence lawyers have refused to represent him unless he reconverts, while others have dropped his case after being threatened.

Gunman enters bank in the eastern city of Jalalabad and shoots dead 42 "infidel" Afghans, including women and children. Says he thought they may be "converts to Christianity"[edit]

In one of the most brutal Taliban attacks in nearly 10 years of war in Afghanistan, a gunman entered a bank in the eastern city of Jalalabad on 19 February and shot dead 42 Afghans, including women and children. The killer and the man who recruited him have spoken to the BBC's Quentin Sommerville.

There is no sound on the CCTV footage from inside the bank branch on the day of the attack, but the terror of the people inside is plain to see.

Men are seen filing past the gunman, Zara Ajam, who is wearing a policeman's uniform. As one man passes by, he says something, and is shot on the spot.

Ajam then opens fire on others. People scramble for cover, a man is seen desperately to protect his young son.
. . .
President Hamid Karzai has said he should hang for his crime. Ajam claims he was misled.

"I was told in Pakistan that you will kill infidels when you go to Afghanistan and you will be an infidel killer," he told me. "But in Jalalabad I was told that people in the bank were infidels. I enjoyed the killing."
. . .

He said he thought they were government employees, or converts to Christianity.

Convert from Islam: "If I'm arrested, I would never say I'm a Christian. If you admit it, you (cannot stay in) the country," thousands in the Islamic nation still hoping for religious freedom, ten years after the Taliban's fall[edit]

KABUL — Fearing his Christian faith could land him in prison, or worse, 22-year-old Afghan Enayat is one of thousands in the Islamic nation still hoping for religious freedom, ten years after the Taliban's fall.

"I used to carry my bible everywhere -- I don't any more," says the baby-faced convert, using a pseudonym for fear of being identified and speaking to AFP at the home of a trusted friend, west of Kabul.

"I don't want to call myself a Christian, people would think I'm immoral."

In Afghanistan, where insurgents continue to fight their "holy war" against foreign forces, there are no churches, evangelising is illegal and the country's constitution forbids conversion from Islam to another religion.

The crime carries the death penalty, although it has not been enforced in recent history.

"If I'm arrested, I would never say I'm a Christian. If you admit it, you (cannot stay in) the country," he says.

Missionaries and other foreigners suspected of being in Afghanistan to convert others to Christianity have been killed in recent years.

Eight foreign medics, accused by the Taliban of being missionaries, were shot dead in north Afghanistan in August. Their organisation, a Christian aid group which had worked in the country for 45 years, said it never proselytised.

A huge sense of fear pervades Afghanistan's Christian community -- estimated by Western faith groups to number several thousand.

In May pressures rose for the minority group when Afghan local television broadcast footage of men being baptised and reciting Christian prayers in Farsi, apparently in a Kabul house, triggering angry protests.

Two Afghans were arrested on suspicion of converting to Christianity after that incident and are being held in Kabul as their court case drags on.

One of the men, Musa Sayed, who works for the International Committee of the Red Cross and is a friend of Enayat, says in a letter detailing his experience he has been beaten, raped and humiliated "day and night".

Sayed, who converted to Christianity six years ago and refuses to return to Islam, does not know if he will be executed or face life imprisonment or exile.

The cases have prompted protests from Christian groups worldwide who have helped raise the profile of Afghanistan's beleaguered Christians.

One, British-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), met with the Foreign Office in London last year to raise its concerns.

"In a country where religious and national identity are closely intertwined and Christianity is viewed as a Western religion, being a Christian and an Afghan can mean being associated with foreign powers and so betraying both Islam and Afghanistan," the group says.

The last person thought to have been tried in Afghanistan for converting, Abdul Rahman, who was arrested in 2006, was eventually released and granted refugee status in Italy after worldwide protests.

Such cases hang heavy in Enayat's thoughts.

He says he discovered Christianity through "American friends" in the early 2000s and converted during a trip to India in 2006.

"One night, I couldn't sleep. I felt the spirit of God hugging me and I heard his voice, it was strong and hot," he recalls. "Then I just felt like (I was) born again."

Enayat returned to Afghanistan from India in 2009, intending to speak about how his experiences "made me a better man."

But he hit a wall of incomprehension -- his mother broke down in tears when he told her, terrified of the shame her son's conversion would bring on the family.

Following last May's arrests, Enayat says he has stopped speaking about his religion, although he is determined the situation will not drive him out of his country.

"I cried about Afghanistan a lot when I was abroad," he says. "Afghans need people like me, I want to develop this country. If I wanted to go to the UK or United States, I would be thinking only of myself."
Afghan Christians live in fear of jail, exile, or worse
Emmanuel Duparcq, AFP, January 26, 2011