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Afghanistan

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The Afghan parliament has issued death threats against Christian converts from Islam

Afghanistan is one of the most hazardous countries in the world for Christians. They live in constant danger of violent persecution by armed groups and also by the government, which threatens to wield the death penalty against those who convert from Islam.

In July 2013 Members of Parliament in Afghanistan called for converts from Islam to Christianity to be killed, in accordance with sharia law. The parliamentary speaker ordered the country’s national security services to take serious steps to stop the spread of Christianity, and the Afghan media launched a vitriolic campaign against Christian converts.

Afghan Christians are thought to number around 1,200 and are all converts from Islam or children of converts. Although none has been executed, a number have been arrested and jailed for a time, and on their release many have fled abroad to escape further persecution. There is deep-rooted public hostility to apostates from Islam, leading to discrimination, harassment and occasional violence against them; converts may lose their spouses and jobs and be rejected by their families. The extremist Taliban have also threatened to target Christians.

Most Christians do not state their beliefs publicly or gather openly for worship. There are no public churches or Christian schools, and believers worship alone or in small congregations in private homes. Anyone suspected of involvement in Christian activities is liable to harassment, and any kind of missionary endeavour may attract fierce opposition.

The conditions of Christians have not been much better under the current government than under the Taliban, an extreme Islamist movement that controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Although the Afghan constitution declares that non-Muslims are free to practise their faith, it also states that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam”. In practice a restrictive interpretation of sharia has become the law of the land.

Despite the desperate situation faced by Christians, the Lord is working in remarkable ways in Afghanistan; house churches there are reportedly seeing more people come to Christ. 

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    • About 1,500 Christians staged a protest in Lahore, Pakistan in June 2014 over the grabbing of church-owned property by the government of Punjab. Over ten large properties, including a church, schools, hospitals and graveyards, have been taken. Christian leaders met with the Lahore District Coordination Officer on 15 June to demand the return of the latest school to be seized, but when they failed to get a positive response, Christian protestors took to the streets. Pray that the provincial government will respect the property rights of the churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

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