A chilling profile of Hashim Kibar, a convert from Islam to Christianity, in Afghanistan. This abundantly illustrates the fact that the Abdul Rahman case was not isolated, and that Christians — converts and others — must live in fear in that country even after the alleged demise of the Taliban. Note also that this article carries a note: “Due to the danger of persecution, the convert’s name has been changed and his picture is not shown.”
From Spiegel, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
But the disappearance of the Taliban has not made much of a difference for people like Kabar. Converts continue to be hunted down, thrown into prison or even killed by their neighbors. The West was largely unaware of the situation, and it was only by coincidence that Rahman’s case captured international attention. Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion, is of little use to Christians. “Many in power in the judicial branch are imams or clerics who have little interest in the constitution,” says Kabar.
Hide and seek
Kabar is forced to renounce his core identity every day. There is an Islamic name on his business card, although privately he carries the name of one of the apostles. Only his family and his closest friends know his secret. Sometimes, he says, he has to act as if he is praying to Allah. “If business associates come to my house and suddenly want to pray, I have to go along,” he says, adding that he only hopes his God understands.
No one knows how many Afghan converts there really are. Because there are no churches, there are also no records. Everything is carried out in secret; only Christians know other Christians. Kabar says he knows a couple of hundred in Kabul and in many other Afghan cities, estimating that there are probably in total between 1,000 and 2,000 people of the Christian faith in Afghanistan, against a Muslim majority of nearly 20 million. Christian Web sites put that number at 10,000, a figure which seems exaggerated.
Even Christian foreigners in Afghanistan feel the oppression brought down by the larger Islamic society. While Christians in Kabul, who mostly come from the Philippines, can hold masses in Kabul, they have to do so in secret. The head of a small foreign congregation, an ophthalmologist from the United States, declined to talk about the issue last week. Christian groups are often suspected of being missionaries; therefore it’s better to keep a low profile. His own church is completely unrecognizable as such, apart from a (relief of a) fish on the outer wall.
Read it all.