Afghan Christians are living in fear as the Taliban has declared they will carry out executions and other brutal punishments, including amputations, under Islamic Sharia law as part of their rule in Afghanistan.
“Cutting off of hands is very necessary for security,” Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a member of the Taliban’s interim government and chief enforcer of the group’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, told The Associated Press.
“Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” he continued. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”
Turabi, who is under U.N. sanctions, also said the new government may consider carrying out such punishments in public.
Turabi’s announcement has many Afghan Christians bracing for persecution, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported, explaining that the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Sharia is a threat to Afghan Christians due to their conversions from Islam to Christianity.
“As apostates, Afghan Christians will be subject to Sharia’s deadliest consequences, including execution,” ICC said.
Almost all Afghan Christians — estimated to be between 8,000 and 12,000 — are converts from Islam and remain largely closeted and hidden from the public eye due to severe persecution.
When the Taliban took control of much of Afghanistan following the drawing down of U.S. troops in August, many ministries working with the country’s underground church worked tirelessly to evacuate at-risk Christians, William Stark, ICC’s regional manager for South Asia, told The Christian Post earlier this month.
“Christians are now in hiding because of active threats against their community,” Stark said.
He shared stories of how Christians continue to face threats from members of the Taliban. In one situation, an Islamic extremist threatened to kidnap a Christian man’s daughters and marry them off to members of the Taliban. In another, a Christian man received a letter from the Taliban saying his house belonged to them. Christians have also been warned to refrain from gathering.
“Even within the networks that we have, a number of people have changed their phone numbers because it’s simply not safe anymore,” Stark said. “Their work to lie low in the country makes it hard for someone on the outside to stay in contact.”
As persecution continues to increase, Afghan Christians need “help from the outside” to escape their circumstances, he said.
“It’s going to take a diplomatic process by the U.S., the U.K. and other countries that are going to allow them to leave that country,” he said. “Essentially, what they need is some sort of special status that would allow them to travel outside of Afghanistan.”
The Taliban have banned all demonstrations and have violently cracked down on protests, including beating women, and killed demonstrators.
“We call on the Taliban to immediately cease the use of force towards, and the arbitrary detention of, those exercising their right to peaceful assembly and the journalists covering the protests,” a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights previously said in a press statement.
The Taliban are arresting, and in some instances executing, people they perceive as their enemies, Christian missionary David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces and Ranger officer, said in a recent interview with CBN News.
Eubank also said recent photos and video suggest they’re killing as many as 30 to 40 at a time,
“They [the Taliban] are hunting down people right now, trying to get all the names of anyone they perceive as an enemy,” Eubank said, adding that the enemies include “people who work with the U.S. government, people who are with other governments, people who work with non-governmental organizations they don’t agree with.”
Five of the Taliban-appointed leaders in the interim government were in detention in Guantánamo and later exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, according to Long War Journal.
Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the current “Emir of the Faithful” or top leader of the Taliban, issued religious decrees justifying the Taliban’s operations, including suicide attacks, from 1996 to 2001, the Journal said.
Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the acting head of state, refused to turn over Osama bin Laden after the al Qaeda terror group bombed the U.S. Embassy in August 1998.
Akhundzada and Akhund are among more than a dozen new leaders who were sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council in early 2001.