Chaos threatens Christians in Afghanistan
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/08/2021 (644 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, Winnipegger Shoaib Ebadi is even more fearful for his relatives in that country — and for its Christian minority.
“They are in a life-threatening situation,” he said of the chaos taking place in the country.
His sister, a high school principal, and her family are staying indoors; the women don’t venture outside the home, he said.
“The Taliban have said the women should stay at home,” said Ebadi. “My sister is frightened. She cries a lot when we talk.”
Her school is closed, he said, noting her husband and other men in the family go outside to buy essential items.
“They stocked up earlier… but those things will run out in a few weeks,” he said, adding they don’t know what they will do then.
His sister tried to come to Canada but received no reply to her e-mails to the Canadian government, he said.
Ebadi, who is executive director of Square One World Media, which streams Christian programs around the world, fears for the safety of Afghanistan’s small number of Christians.
While he has not heard first-hand reports of Christians being persecuted by the Taliban, Christians there are hiding Bibles and deleting Christian material from their phones.
Right now, it is impossible to do anything for them but to pray, he said, adding the church in Afghanistan is new.
“It grew up rapidly in the last 20 years,” he said, unlike churches in other countries in the region that have been around for centuries.
Many Christians in Afghanistan became converts after the country gained more freedom after the U.S.-led military invasion. This included access to Christian programming from abroad.
Believers do not meet in churches, he said, but rather meet in homes for worship services and Bible studies.
“We need to remember them now,” he said. “I want to help all of the people of Afghanistan, but my heart is with the Christians in that country now.”
While encouraging Canadian Christians to be informed about the plight of Christians in Afghanistan, he warned against believing everything people might see on social media.
“We need to avoid exaggeration and extremes,” he said about unconfirmed reports of Christians being executed.
While not discounting the possibility that could happen, “That doesn’t help the situation,” he said.
Reza Salari is pastor of the Persian Fellowship Church in Winnipeg, which is made up of people from Iran and Afghanistan.
“The situation in Afghanistan is very tough,” said Salari, who is from Iran.
People from that country in his church “are very sad,” he said. “We don’t know what the future will hold.”
What adds to their concern is that Western Union has suspended money transfers to Afghanistan, which means they can no longer send financial support to relatives there.
If the Canadian government opens a special program to bring Afghan refugees to Canada, his church is ready to help, he said.
For now, all he can do is provide comfort to his members, and “pray and have hope.”
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John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.