Video: Life: The Long And The Short Of It
“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in South-Central Asia. Shattered by decades of war, the countryside was bombed and still contains over one million landmines and other undetonated artillery. The ongoing conflict has destroyed much of the infrastructure, and the rebuilding of public buildings has been a point of concentration. Extensive gas and mineral deposits offer potential lucrative exports. Afghanistan has a drug economy with one-third of the nation’s GDP coming from production of opium. Investment of extensive foreign aid and millions of former refugees returning have generated an influx of funds. The conflict with armed opposition groups including the Taliban, continues to stunt recovery and growth.The population is over 29 million and the official languages are Pashtu (used by 50%) and Dari (Afghan Persian, used by 70%). No comprehensive census or careful ethnic survey has been made for decades. Afghan refugees are ~2 million in Iran, ~2 million in Pakistan and smaller numbers around the world. As many as 4.5 million have returned to Afghanistan since 2001 when an International Security Assistance Force was created to assist the Karzai administration. Afghans perceive lack of security and poverty to be their greatest problems.While there is limited freedom to practice other religions the spreading of Christianity is vigorously opposed. Shi’a Muslims make up 20% of the population. A mere 15,000 claim to be Christian, and most of these are resident foreigners (foreign military not included). There are no church buildings, and yet there are 48,000 mosques. The Church is almost entirely underground. Afghanistan is one of the least reached countries for Christianity in the world today.”1
The situation in Afghanistan is difficult for Christians, who suffer both at the hands of Afghanistan's government and the Taliban insurgency. One Christian to suffer persecution has been Shoaib Assadullah. Assadullah was arrested on October 21, 2010, after he gave a Bible to another man. Assadullah is a convert from Islam to Christian faith. On January 3, 2011, he was told by a judge that he had one week to renounce Jesus Christ or he would face up to twenty years in jail or, possibly, the death sentence. Assadullah has maintained his faith and said; “Tell all my brothers and sisters, especially my Afghan brothers and sisters, that my faith is strong.” 2 He has also bravely declared that he was not afraid to die. Because of international pressure, he has now been released and has found asylum in a foreign country.
Along with Assadullah's case two other similar cases have ended favorably. Abdul Rahman and Said Musa are both converts from Islam to Christianity. Both were arrested, Rahman in 2006, and Musa in 2010. They received mistreatment but, after international pressure, both were released. Musa, in prison, endured beatings as well as sexual abuse.
As well as Afghanistan's court system opposing individuals, such as Rahman and Musa, Afghanistan’s government has opposed Christian organizations. On May 31, 2010, Afghanistan suspended the work of two Christian relief organizations. The relief organizations were believed to have been converting Afghans to Christianity. Some photographs were released that apparently show Afghans being baptised by westerners in a private meeting and this was shown in vidio form on television. The television station Noorin said that there was no evidence linking the Christian relief organization to these photographs. A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Economy told the New York Times that there was no evidence against the Christian relief organization. According to the Associated Press, the deputy secretary of the Afghan parliament has requested the execution of the Afghans who wer baptised as Christians. The deputy has said; “Those Afghans that appeared on this vidio film should be executed in public. The house should order the attorney general and the National Department of Security to arrest these Afghans and execute them.”3
As well as being persecuted by the government and the courts in Afghanistan, Christians are also persecuted by the Taliban. On August 5, 2010, ten Christians who were a part of a Christian aid team were killed in northern Afghanistan. They had spent three weeks providing medical assistance to villages. The team included doctors, nurses and technicians.
Pray for the Christians in Afghanistan, that they would be able to forgive their persecutors. It is challenging for any of us to forgive the smallest acts of injustice perpetrated upon us. How much more challenging would it be to forgive horrific human rights atrocities perpetrated upon oneself or one's family. Yet, Jesus Christ forgave even to this extent. We read of as He was being crucified; ''Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.'' (Luke 23.34 KJV). To follow Jesus in this kind of forgiveness is the greatest witness that a Christian can show to an unbelieving world. Forgiveness can be given and, still, with it call for human rights reforms.
Canada has been heavily involved in the United Nations mandated and NATO- led operations in Afghanistan. Canadian forces have aided Afghan national security forces in establishing some law and order in the region. They have also contributed to health, education and economic growth in Afghanistan. They have contributed humanitarian assistance and work together with Afghan and Pakistani autorities towards improving border security. Much good has been accomplished, however, Canada needs to use the influence that it has in Afghanistan to press harder for religious freedom. Most specifically, reforms need to be made to the Afghan legal system so that Christians are not prosecuted for simply following their faith. Christian believers must be given the freedom to follow Jesus Christ whether or not they were, at one time, Muslims. It is time for Afghan Christians to be treated as human beings and receive respite from the ill-treatment and the threat of overt persecution that they daily face.
Call for Canada to use diplomatic pressure to secure changes in Afghan law which will increase religious freedom.
1. Donna Siemens. zionchristianministry.com International Page.
2. AFGHANISTAN : AWAITING COURT DECISION (Posted Feb. 10,2011). persecution.com.
Operation World, Jason Mandryk. Colorado Springs: Biblica Publishing, 2010
Donna Siemens. zionchristianministry.com International Page.
AFGHANISTAN : AWAITING COURT DECISION (Posted Feb. 10,2011). persecution.com.
Scripture taken from the King James Version.
Video: Life: The Long And The Short Of It
In our article, “Afghanistan : Human Rights Abuse,” we discussed the deplorable situation in that country in regards to the religious persecution of Christians. We mentioned the cases of Abdul Rahman and Said Musa, both who were converts from Islam to Christianity. Both were arrested, abused and, as a result of international pressure, released. We also discussed the story of Shoaib Assadullah who was arrested on October 21, 2010, after he gave a Bible to another man. Assadullah is also a convert from Islam to Christian faith. He was told by a judge that if he did not renounce Christ, he would be sentenced to twenty years in prison or, possibly, to the death penalty. He has been offered freedom in exchange for a recantation of his faith. However, Assadullah has maintained the profession of his Christian faith. He was later freed.
In addition to Afghans being persecuted for converting to Christian faith, Christian Afghans are also persecuted for their speech under blasphemy laws. Afghanistan is an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. Authorities there are allowed to punish speech deemed to be religious blasphemy by their courts and may assign the death penalty for this reason to any male of sound mind, over eighteen years of age, and to any female of sound mind over fifteen years of age. Specific cases of blasphemy prosecution in Afghanistan, reported by Wikipedia, include:
On 27 October 2007, police arrested Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, a student at Balkh University and a journalist for Jahan-e-Naw (New World), a daily, after he allegedly distributed writing posted on the Internet by Arash Bikhoda (Arash the atheist). Bikhoda's writing criticizes the treatment of women in Islamic societies. On 22 January 2008, a court sentenced Kambaksh to death for "blasphemy and distribution of texts defamatory of Islam." The court relied on a confession which Kambaksh denounced as a product of torture. In October 2008, the Court of Appeals in Kabul upheld the conviction but commuted the sentence to imprisonment for twenty years.   On 11 or 12 February 2009, the Afghan Supreme Court upheld the sentence of twenty years. In late August 2009, Kambaksh left Afghanistan after a grant of "amnesty" by President Hamid Karzai. In October 2005, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, a journalist and an editor of a women's rights magazine, was sentenced by a tribunal to two years in prison for blasphemy because he questioned the harsh punishments imposed on women under Sharia, and because he said conversion from Islam should not be a crime. Nasab was released in December 2005 after his sentence was reduced on appeal. ... In 2003, two editors of the weekly Aftab were jailed for a week on blasphemy charges for publishing a controversial series of articles condemning crimes committed by senior Afghan leaders in the name of Islam. The two editors were later cleared of the charges, but they were forced to leave Afghanistan because of threats against their lives. 1
Canada has had a big role in supporting Afghanistan. Canada has worked together with the Afghan National Security Forces and assisted with basic services including education, health and the promotion of economic growth. Canada has provided humanitarian assistance and has helped build some Afghan national institutions. Canada has been involved in building and repairing fifty schools in Kandahar province and has contributed to the rehabilitation of the Dahla Dam. Canada has been involved in the training of fifty thousand Afghan troops. In addition to this, the Canadian military police and the Canadian civilian police have assisted in the training of over 2,800 police officers since 2008. Canada has also provided funding for the construction of police stations, police equipment and the paying of some police salaries. It would be ironic if Canadian-trained police arrested Afghan Christians on blasphemy charges and imprison them in Canadian-funded Afghan prisons. Canadians do not want their tax dollars to support an Afghan legal system which overtly persecutes Christians, and other religious minorities, for their faith. Canadians want their government to take strong diplomatic measures to see changes to Afghanistan's legal system. Most specifically, Canadians want Afghanistan to end blasphemy laws and blasphemy-law prosecution. Canadians do not want to fund the legal prosecution of religious minorities in Afghanistan.
By referring to this website I am not claiming that the Canadian Government endorses this article, book or any part of this writing.
"2008 Report on International Religious Freedom - Afghanistan". United States Department of State. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2009.
Wafa, Abdul Waheed; Carlotta Gall and Taimoor Shah (11 March 2009). "Afghan Court Backs Prison Term for Blasphemy". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
Mineeia, Zainab (21 October 2008). "Afghanistan: Journalist Serving 20 Years for "Blasphemy"". IPS (Inter Press Service). Retrieved 2 July 2009.
Wiseman, Paul (31 January 2008). "Afghan student's death sentence hits nerve". USA Today. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
Sengupta, Kim (7 September 2009). "Free at last: Student in hiding after Karzai's intervention". The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2009.