Washington, DC – In Defense of Christians (IDC), the nation’s leading advocacy organization for Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa, expresses deep concern over the fate of religious minority communities in Afghanistan and conveys condolences to the families of the U.S. servicemembers killed on August 26,2021 at the Kabul Airport.
On August 26, ISIS’s Afghanistan affiliate, ISIS-K, staged a suicide attack outside of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing 13 U.S. servicemembers, and injuring 15. The suicide explosion also killed at least 90 Afghan civilians.
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised serious concerns about the fate of religious minorities in a country now governed by the Taliban, in an area with known Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) designated the Taliban as an entity of particular concern in its 2021 report, as the country’s Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Shia, Buddhist, and other religious minority communities, live under conditions of extreme persecution.
Christian persecution in Afghanistan takes place at alarming levels, with Open Doors ranking Afghanistan as the world’s second most dangerous country for Christians.
The Christian community in Afghanistan, numbering in the thousands, is comprised of recent converts from Islam, forced to live their faith in secret. If converts are exposed, they they face death. Upon the Taliban’s recent and sudden takeover, the small Christian community was immediately placed in the Taliban’s crosshairs. Reports also suggest the Taliban are looking through people’s phones for downloaded Bibles.
Christians, have reportedly been denied admission to the Kabul Airport by the Taliban, thereby denying them access the U.S. evacuation.
Nadine Maenza, USCIRF Chair and IDC board member, stated that “as Afghans are forced to flee their homes on account of their beliefs, the U.S. government must ensure that the most vulnerable among them have a pathway to seek refuge in the United States.”
“Afghan Christians fleeing for their lives must be evacuated,” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini.
“We encourage the U.S. to closely monitor religious minorities in Afghanistan and remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the U.S. servicemembers who lost their lives in yesterday’s attack,” he added.