Christians in Afghanistan expressed fear over an uncertain future under Taliban rule, with Christian leaders saying it is just a matter of time before attacks would start.
“We are telling people to stay in their houses because going out now is too dangerous,” said a Christian leader in Afghanistan in a report by the group International Christian Concern (ICC).
The man, whose name was withheld for security reasons, told ICC that Christians in the country fear that Taliban attacks on Christian communities would start soon.
“Some known Christians are already receiving threatening phone calls,” said one Christian leader. “In these phone calls, unknown people say, ‘We are coming for you.’”
They fear that it is only a matter of time before the attacks happen. “It will be done mafia style,” the Christian leader said. “The Taliban will never take responsibility for the killings.”
Life under Taliban rule will be very difficult for Christians, said the community leader.
He said that when the Taliban take control of a village, they would require all households to go to the mosque to pray in an attempt to out any Christian convert.
The ICC report said that in some northern parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban have already enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law.
“Men are required to grow beards, women cannot leave home without a male escort, and life is becoming more dangerous,” said the report.
“Many Christians fear the Taliban will take their children, both girls and boys, like in Nigeria and Syria,” the Christian leader said.
“The girls will be forced to marry Taliban fighters and the boys will be forced to become soldiers,” he added.
“It’s a heartbreaking day for the citizens of Afghanistan and an even dangerous time to be a Christian,” read a statement form the field director of Open Doors in Asia, a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians.
“It’s an uncertain situation for the whole country, not just for secret believers,” it added.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of May 21, about 100,000 people had been displaced by conflict in Afghanistan this year.
Since then, the numbers have more than doubled.
Prior to the Taliban takeover, Open Doors ranked Afghanistan second on its World Watch List on persecution “only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea.”
Afghanistan’s Christian community, estimated to be between 10,000 and 12,000, comprise mostly of converts from Islam and is considered the country’s largest religious minority group.
Due to persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.
Christian leaders said Afghan Christians, who converted from Islam, are considered direct targets for persecution by extremist groups.
In Afghanistan, leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.