Five Afghan Christians Martyred

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Taliban militants target converts to Christianity.

Special to Compass Direct

LOS ANGELES, September 9 (Compass) -- Five Afghan men who had converted to Christianity have been killed in separate incidents since late June near the borders of eastern Afghanistan.

All five men were stabbed or beaten to death in summary executions by Taliban adherents who accused them of abandoning Islam and then “spreading Christianity” in their communities.

The first stabbing death was reported on July 1 by Reuters news agency, which received a telephone call from a Taliban spokesman identifying himself as Abdul Latif Hakimi.

The caller declared that a group of Taliban fighters had killed Mullah Assad Ullah the previous day in Ghazni province’s remote Awdand region, a known Taliban stronghold and traditional seat of Islamic learning.

“A group of Taliban dragged out Mullah Assad Ullah and slit his throat with a knife because he was propagating Christianity,” Hakimi told Reuters. “We have enough evidence and local accounts to prove that he was involved in the conversion of Muslims to Christianity.”

Hakimi went on to accuse a number of foreign aid agencies of involvement in spreading Christianity among Afghanistan’s overwhelmingly Muslim population.

“We warn them that they face the same destiny as Assad Ullah if they continue to seduce people,” he told Reuters. At least 33 foreign aid workers have been killed by the Taliban in the past 18 months.

According to local sources, Assad Ullah was seized in broad daylight while at the market buying fruit and vegetables for his family. His attackers reportedly dragged his dead body around the market area, shouting warnings that the same fate awaited anyone else who listened to his heretical teachings.

The former mullah had first obtained a copy of the New Testament about five years ago, while still living under the Taliban regime. He had been baptized secretly about two and one-half years ago.

In his mid-40s, Assad Ullah is survived by a widow and four daughters, ages 7 to 14.

The murder of another Afghan convert to Christianity who had gone to visit Assad Ullah’s family was confirmed on August 7. According to a fellow convert, the body of Naveed ul-Rehman was discovered in early August near his abandoned car in Awdand, at the same marketplace where the former mullah had been killed.

Nothing had been stolen from ul-Rehman’s pockets or car, nor was any evidence found to reveal the identity of his attackers.

About 40 years of age, ul-Rehman was a well educated Afghan who had been living in Kabul since his return to Afghanistan. He was married without children.

During the month of July, another three Afghan Christians were stabbed or beaten to death in separate incidents on July 15, July 23 and July 28. Each left behind a wife and several children.

The three men had been accused by their attackers of studying the Bible, praying in the name of Jesus or associating with other known Afghan converts to Christianity.

In the context of a closed, strictly Muslim society, Afghanistan’s new provisional constitution adopted in December 2003 falls short of any guarantee of religious freedom for its citizens. The document declares Islam the religion of the state, with all laws required to conform to the tenets of Islamic law.