The scenes from Kabul were a modern-day reminder of America’s desperate and dramatic withdrawal from Saigon.
As the world watched the videos and images of citizens trying to escape the Sharia regime the Taliban is bound to impose in Afghanistan, reports have also emerged of Christians who are expecting arrest, torture and execution in the coming days.
Reports are circulating that the Taliban is going door to door in cities where they already took control and that girls as young as 12 are being married off as sex slaves to Taliban fighters.
“It is heartbreaking to see the Taliban take over Afghanistan with their history of atrocities against their own citizens, especially religious minorities and women,” Nadine Maenza, a policy expert and advocate for international religious freedom, told ALL ARAB NEWS.
“The women in these communities are particularly vulnerable,” she said. “Even as the U.S. was announcing their plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the United Nations reported a record number of women and children killed or wounded in the first half of the year.”
Maenza’s is the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which already noted in June an exodus of religious minority communities in Afghanistan. Now Maenza is particularly concerned about the religious minorities that remain in the country including Christians, Shi’as, Hazaras, Sikh, Hindus, Baha’is and Ahmadis.
Maenza serves on the ALL ARAB NEWS Advisory Board.
Earlier this year, USCIRF recommended that the State Department re-designate the Taliban as an Entity of Particular Concern “for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Robby Dawkins – an American evangelist who has worked in Afghanistan – in an emotional post on Instagram – said he was speaking with believers there during the Taliban advance until he “lost all contact with them.”
“(The Taliban) are not looking for converts at this point, they are looking for extermination of Christians,” he said.
Dawkins appealed to Christians to pray for Afghani believers for protection, boldness and miracles. The Taliban, he said, has “no plan for good, only harm and destruction in their path.”
But Dawkins believes Afghanistan can be saved. He calls Afghanistan the second fastest growing church on the planet, after Iran. The nation has also been ranked by Open Doors as the world’s second-worst persecutor of Christians for years.
Release International, an organization that monitors and helps persecuted Christians around the world, warned on Monday that attacks on Christians are likely to rise across the region, not just in Afghanistan.
“Please pray for Christians in Afghanistan and across the region,” Release International CEO Paul Robinson said. “The resurgence of the Taliban will fan the flames of Islamist extremism. Pakistan especially may be impacted by the new mood of militancy – which can only be bad news for the region’s Christians.”
A Christian contact of one Release International partner describes the situation as “dire.” Says ‘Micah:’ “Our brothers and sisters in Christ are telling us how afraid they are. In the areas that the Taliban now control girls are not allowed to go to school and women are not allowed to leave their homes without a male companion.”
…To be exposed as a Christian risks being charged with apostasy, which is punishable by death or imprisonment. There have also been honor killings of Christians by their families.
In the past, foreign Christian workers have been murdered and many have long since left the country. Many secret believers are now fleeing the Taliban, whose version of Islam is even more violent and extreme. But many Christians are poor and cannot afford to leave. They will be left behind.
International Christian Concern notes that “As cities fall to a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, the future of that country’s Christian population grows more uncertain.”
“Afghanistan’s Christians are already mostly underground. The country has only one Catholic church, tucked away in the Italian embassy, and even that closed in response to the pandemic. The 2004 constitution of Afghanistan severely limits religious freedom, forbidding the open preaching of the gospel and restricting conversion to Christianity.”
In Mission Network News, Katey Hearth describes what a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan means for Christians, who “know what to expect” based on the Taliban’s previous control of the country.
“We don’t have to wonder what they’re going to do. We’ve seen it,” said Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs. “It is not good news for our Christian brothers and sisters. It’s not good news for anybody in Afghanistan.”
“It won’t be worse in the level of persecution, but I think it will be worse in terms of the numbers because there are more Christians in Afghanistan than there were 20 years ago,” Nettleton said. “We know there are followers of Jesus Christ in every single province of Afghanistan.”
VOM is trying to help who they can, but some Christians are staying because they believe God placed them there, Nettleton said.
Mindy Belz, senior editor at World Magazine and author of “They Say We Are Infidels,” tweeted that “a person who works with house church networks in Afghanistan reports its leaders received letters last night from the Taliban warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing. The leaders say they aren’t going anywhere. So it begins.”
In telling imagery, a female CNN journalist, Clarissa Ward, who was reporting with her head uncovered on Saturday, had a black hijab covering her hair and tied under her neck as she broadcast from Kabul Airport on Sunday.