When the Taliban swept into power in August 2021, they did so with promises of moderation. They claimed that past brutality, executions and horrific policies around women were things of the past. They said they would govern Afghanistan with justice and fair treatment for minorities. They wanted to make clear that this was a new, improved, more tolerant Taliban.
This was clearly untrue.
In the 15 months since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the group has rolled back the rights of women, squelched the media and press, and brutally oppressed Christians.
And now, in a devastating new development, the head of the Taliban has ordered Afghanistan’s judges to give out punishments in accordance with Shariah law. Those punishments, according to the BBC
, can include things like amputation, public lashings and execution by stoning.
This is horrifying news for the secret Christian community in Afghanistan. Given that Taliban officials believe there are “no Christians” in Afghanistan, every believer is regarded as an apostate from Islam. Traditionally, in Shariah law, leaving Islam has carried a potential penalty of death. This is the kind of punishment the Taliban is demanding from Afghanistan’s judges.
This isn’t the first time the world’s attention has been drawn to the violent punishment for leaving Islam in Afghanistan. Even before the Taliban came back to power, Christian converts could be sentenced to death. In 2006, an Afghan named Abdul Rahman was charged with apostasy, and religious leaders in Afghanistan demanded his execution. The court said there were issues with the investigation, and Rahman was released and fled to a Western country, where he claimed asylum.
Under the new rules, someone charged with apostasy wouldn’t likely find similar results. Instead, horrifying punishments await believers like Rahman.
As Afghanistan continues to remain one of the most difficult places in the world for Christians to follow Jesus, join your sisters and brothers there in prayer.
Top photo: Jrheinlaender, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
- Pray for safety and relief for Christians who risk everything to follow Jesus in Afghanistan. Ask God to protect them and give them strength.
- Pray for believers who feel alone and isolate. It’s incredibly dangerous for Christians to meet in Afghanistan, if not outright impossible. Ask God to remind them they belong to a global Body of faith.
- Ask God to change the hearts of the Taliban, to see the hope and joy offered by Jesus.
- Pray for the economic conditions of Afghanistan, where thousands are hungry and desperate.
- Pray for God to save people and to show them He is the ultimate answer for the need of every person.
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