World Watch List: 02
Leader: President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
Population: 36.3 million
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Islamic Republic
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
Through local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Afghanistan through:
- Literacy training
- Emergency aid to victims of violent persecution
- Vocational projects
- Women’s ministry
- Trauma counselling
- Bible literacy
No Afghan Christian
Officially, there are no Afghan Christians in the country. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan neither allows any Afghan citizens to become Christians nor recognizes converts as such.
Taliban vs Islamic State
There has been an influx of foreign Sunni militants from the Islamic State (IS) into Afghanistan, competing with the Taliban that is present in at least half of the country’s provinces. As a result of high unemployment, poverty, and inflation rates, many young people join these militant groups.
Converts are thought to be insane
To Afghans, loyalty belongs to the family, tribe, ethnicity, and religion. These four aspects are regarded as one and the same. As such, when a person accepts a foreign religion like Christianity, it is seen as a betrayal of family, tribe, and culture as well. The family and wider community will do everything they can to make the person return to traditional norms, or to atone for the shame. Believers face discrimination, and hostility, even death. Even the suspicion of having converted to Christianity can lead to arrests and their homes destroyed. If discovered, their children will be taken away from them and given to Muslim families. Some have also been sent to a mental hospital as their families cannot believe that a sane person would ever leave Islam.
Female believers may be sold into slavery or prostitution, forced to marry Muslim men much older than them, physically and sexually abused, and locked up at home with no food or water.
- Afghan believers face strong pressure from their family, friends, and neighbours to recant their faith, maybe even fearing for their lives. Pray for courage and protection over Afghan believers.
- The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan does not allow conversion from Islam. It is seen as apostasy and brings shame on the family and community. Please pray for change to take place within the country, and for openness to religions outside of Islam.
- For stability and peace in Afghanistan as the level of violence from radical Islamic groups is increasing.