Here are some additonal details from Intercessors Network...
An Open Letter from the Afghan Christian Community
to the Body of Christ Worldwide
Commented by Michael Ireland
Christians in Afghanistan have written an ‘Open Letter’ to believers around the world calling for help in defending those who are being persecuted for their faith.
We has received the following letter written by missionaries in Afghanistan, one of which is a “fellow prisoner” for sharing his faith in Christ.
“Our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan are in such a bad place right now they are willing to go public and are crying out for prayers and support from the body of Christ,” said Kevin Turner, founder and president of Strategic World Impact (SWI), a Midwestern-based Christian ministry which works in areas where disaster, war, or persecution of Christians occurs.
“Please let us not forsake those who are being persecuted for their faith, particularly in the nation of Afghanistan. Let us stand with them in prayer and fasting,” said Turner, who also received a copy of the letter.
In the introduction to the letter, the Afghan believers say: “We need your help to stop the Afghan government from arresting Afghan Christians and condemning them to death by public execution!”
The letter addresses recent events inside Afghanistan that have unfolded since May 27, 2010 after an incendiary documentary showing photos and videos of secret “Afghan Christian Converts” aired on Noorin TV, an independent TV station based in Kabul.
The documentary was the first of its kind to ever air publicly on national TV in Afghanistan, a country that considers itself to be 100 percent Muslim. The controversial content, revealing names and faces of supposed Afghan Christian converts, sparked riots and demonstrations throughout Afghanistan in the days that followed.
During the ensuing protests, demonstrators called on President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government to take strong and decisive actions against these exposed Afghan Christian converts by enforcing the Afghan constitution, based on Islamic Sharia law, which clearly call for the arrest and public execution of anyone who leaves Islam for another religion.
According to an online report by the Associated Free Press dated June 1, 2010, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, deputy secretary of the Afghan lower house in parliament, called for the execution of Christian converts from Islam saying, “those Afghans that appeared in this video film should be executed in public, the house should order the Attorney General and the NDS (intelligence agency) to arrest these Afghans and execute them.”
In another reported statement, Qazi Nazir Ahmad, a lawmaker from Herat, declared that killing a Muslim who converts to Christianity is “not a crime.”
Waheed Omar, the spokesman for the President, told reporters that President Hamid Karzai Hamid Karzai himself was “personally” taking an interest in this case, and had ordered his interior minister and the head of the country’s spy agency to do a full investigation and “to take immediate and serious action to prevent this phenomenon.”
Reports from inside Afghanistan already tell of many arrests in recent days, frequent and ongoing searches of homes and businesses, as well as claims of torture by those under arrest in an effort to forcibly extract the names of other Afghan Christian converts and the locations of secret Afghan Christian “churches” and underground fellowships throughout the country.
The letter says: “In light of all these events, and the perplexing media silence on these atrocities occurring in plain view of the international community, we are pleading with the Body of Christ around the world to support our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters during this critical time by taking a firm and vocal stand against the severe and devastating wrongs being committed against them by their own government!”
The letter-writers say: “We ask that you please forward and share the enclosed “open letter to the church” with your friends, churches, prayer groups, human rights advocates, the media, your local representatives, senators and other government bodies and authorities... We need everyone’s help to make our voices heard!
“We must make people aware that right now our Afghan Christian brothers and sisters are being subjected to forcible arrest, intimidation, fear, torture and certain public execution merely for choosing to be Christian! We must raise up a standard against these egregious injustices and blatant human rights violations by taking a strong and public stand against these unconscionable actions being perpetrated and condoned by the Afghan government from the parliament floor against its own people!”
The letter was written on June 8, 2010 by Afghan Christians “who are currently living in exile from their beloved homeland because they were forced to flee their country in order to save their lives and the lives of their families, due to orders of execution issued against them by the Afghan government for choosing to convert to Christianity.”
The full text of the letter. . .
“To the Body of Christ:
“This letter is written by the Afghan Christian Community in India which is a small community of 150 Afghan Christian refugees and asylum seekers.
“We left our country because we were sentenced to death on the account of our Christian faith (conversion), as Afghanistan is a Muslim Country, the Afghan Government is an Islamic government, and Islam is the only formal religion of the country, and according to the Constitutional law of the Afghan Islamic Republic, conversion is considered as a big crime, Christian are called pagans and infidels and are sentenced to death by the Afghan Government. Christians are considered criminals. Death penalty is waiting for all those who want to leave the darkness and come to the true light, repent from their sins, and put their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Lord and Savior of all human being.
“We believe that you (the Body of Christ) have already heard that some pictures and movies of the Afghan believers (from Delhi and Kabul) were shown by an Afghan Private TV (Noorin TV), this TV channel showed these picture in a especial program (Sarzameen Man), and the Government and people were encouraged and provoked to think about the issue of conversion, to make a stand against it and to take serious and practical measures and actions to destroy Afghan Converted Christians (Sons of God) and those who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Lost.
“The Afghan Parliament, Senate, Religious Council and Islamic Parties and leaders made statements that the Afghan Government has to search, find, arrest, deliver to courts and executes all Afghan Christians, and the Christian NGOs and Organization have to be stopped too. University students protested against Afghan Christians in Kabul and Herat Provinces, and the Afghan Government also made a statement that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed, and the Christian NGOs and Organizations which involved with the issues of conversion will be closed.
“Mr. Mujajdi, the Chairman Of Afghan Senate, said that if the Afghan Government does not take serious action, he and other Islamic leaders will call and request the Afghan people to take practical measures to kill all Afghan Christians. President Karzai himself showed his personal interest in this regard and said that all Afghan Christians will be arrested and executed and Christian organizations which are involved with this issue will be stopped. He ordered the Afghan security organs to take serious measures in this regard.”’
“The Afghan Home Minister and the Chairman of the Afghan Intelligence told the Afghan Parliament that 4 Afghan Christian individuals and one family have been arrested and they are under investigation, 13 NGOs have been named and suspended, the names of Afghan Christians have been listed, and the Afghan Intelligence agency is trying to arrest them. Two Church organizations have been closed. As we are in contact with our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, many believers are arrested, our houses are checked by police and intelligence people in Afghanistan, our families and parents (though they are Muslim) are under investigation and even arrested, and all Afghan believers are misplaced.”
The letter-writers, “(Afghan Christian Community) along with our other Afghan Christian brothers and sisters who are in Afghanistan” request you to:
“Pray for us and for this critical situation, pray for those who are arrested, and those who are under investigation. Please come together and help your Afghan brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are sentenced to death, we are arrested, we are under investigation, the Afghan Government kills us because we believe on Jesus Christ, we know that we should consider it pure joy when we suffer (James 1: 1 -4), and we are enjoying all suffering all joy. But we also know that faith without deeds is useless (James 2: 14 - 17), and this is the time to raise your voice for your brothers and sisters, for our children, for our old parents, for the execution of thousand Afghan believers. “This is the day that all of us should come together and pray, think, help and raise our voices to the International Community, to put pressure on the Afghan Government to stop killing, persecuting and executing Afghan Christians, to give us freedom of religion, to respect and accept us as Afghan Christians.
“We do not know how the whole world and especially the Global Church is silent and closing their eyes, while thousand of their brothers and sisters (Body of Christ) are in pain, facing life danger and death penalty, and are tortured, persecuted and called criminals because they believe in the Truth.
“We need to wake up, get up and speak up today, and to prove it that we are really in concern, and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we should help the persecuted part of the body of Christ, for His Glory. If we really believe that Lord Jesus Christ is God, then, He commands us to love Him and to love our neighbor, if our own brothers and sisters, are in pain and suffering, and we are silent and we ignore them and their suffering, then the question is that do we really obey Lord Jesus’ commandment to love Him and our neighbor?”
The letter concludes: “So, dear brothers and sister (the Body of Christ), we (Afghan Christian Community in New Delhi) on behalf of all Afghan Christians request you to support us by your prayers and practical measures, let us tell the Afghan Government that we are not pagans and infidels, we are not criminals because of our Christian faith, and let us tell them not to sentence us to death.”
Recent Anti-Christian Outcry Highlights ‘Institutionalized Danger’ To Converts In Afghanistan
CSW, a UK-based human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom, working on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all, has expressed its concern at the situation Afghan believers are facing.
In a media release, CSW says it is “gravely concerned that the ongoing rise in threats to the lives of Christians in Afghanistan is evidence of the ‘institutionalized danger’ to converts.
“Recent weeks have seen calls from high-level leaders within the country for the immediate arrest and execution of converts to Christianity. According to sources in the region, over twenty Afghan Christians had been arrested as of last week. Non-Christians known to be associated with Westerners are also being targeted for interrogation.”
CSW says the current situation was triggered in late May when a private television station aired photos of Afghans being baptized. Since that time, protest groups in four provinces have called for the execution of apostates, President Karzai has ordered a full investigation into the matter, two Christian humanitarian aid organizations (NGOs) are under scrutiny.
CSW explained: “Afghanistan is one of ten Muslim-majority countries officially declared as Islamic nations. In matters with which the Afghan Constitution does not deal explicitly, Islamic Shari’a Law applies. This includes the question of apostasy, for which the death sentence is prescribed. Afghanistan has however ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the individual’s ‘freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.’”
CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said: “Christian converts in Afghanistan have long faced extreme obstacles and threats but recent events have brought to light the institutionalised nature of the danger. Groups continue to flee the country and an urgent plea for help from Afghan Christians in Delhi has been circulated among Christians around the world. We call upon the international political community to act for the security of Afghan Christians and to urge the Government of Afghanistan to adhere to their obligations under international law.”
Crisis in Afghanistan Prompts Evangelical Response
The Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA RLC) is also deeply disturbed over the recent developments in Afghanistan, calling for the death of converts from Islam to other religions.
The group says the anti-Christian reaction followed the airing of a controversial television documentary on May 27, 2010, on ‘Afghan Christian Converts’ by a local television station in Afghanistan wherein they revealed the identities of a some supposed Afghan Christian converts.
In a media release, WEA RLC says it is also “deeply troubled by the statements made by Afghanistan Officials including the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.E. Hamid Karzai. It is reported that the President has instructed government officials and the Afghan intelligence agency to take immediate and serious action to prevent further conversions from Islam.”
WEA RLC says the events of the past few weeks where Afghan Officials suspended two church based aid organizations on alleged charges of proselytizing and the crack down on converts from Islam are “further disturbing developments which signify a non tolerant attitude toward religious freedom.”
An Afghan Christian leader who fled to safety, in an appeal to the WEA RLC, stated: “We do not know how the whole world and especially the Global Church is silent and closing their eyes while thousands of their brothers and sisters (Body of Christ) are in pain, facing danger to their lives, death, torture, persecuted and called criminals.”
WEA RLC calls on the worldwide church to pray for Afghanistan that there will be respect for the freedom of religion and that the government of Afghanistan will take a all necessary action to safeguard the lives and the rights of all Afghans and expatriates working in Afghanistan.
“It is a cause of serious concern that the mere accusation of converting from Islam has resulted in such strong and violent reactions by the Afghan authorities and the public. While we recognize the challenges faced by the Afghan government in rebuilding and restoring peace in Afghanistan after decades of war and division, we urge the Afghan government to take urgent and immediate action to protect the lives of all Afghans,” said Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the WEA RLC.