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More Christians Arrested in Afghanistan
by Hilary White
KABUL, March 28 2006, (LifeSiteNews.com) – US-based Christian news source, Compass Direct, reports that more Christians have been arrested for their faith in Afghanistan in the wake of the release of Abdul Rahman. Compass, a news service that tracks persecution of Christians mostly in Islamic countries, says harassment of the Christian community has been stepped up.
Compass says two more Christian converts have been arrested in other parts of the country, but further information is being withheld in the “sensitive situation” caused by the international media furor over Rahman.
Reports of beatings and police raids on the homes of Christians are filtering out of the country through local Christian ministers.
The Italian newspaper, La Republica, published an interview with Abdul Rahman that the paper obtained through an aid worker who visited him last week. Rahman told the paper that, though he did not want to die, he was ready give up his life for his faith.
If God decides, I am ready to confront my choices, all the way,” he said.
“I read the Bible and it opened my heart and mind,” he told the paper. I have done nothing to repent, I respect Afghan law as I respect Islam. But I chose to become a Christian, for myself, for my soul. It is not an offence.”
The threat of death hangs over the heads of all Afghan Christians, of whom US-based groups say there may be as many as 10,000, meeting secretly in houses for prayer and bible study, and living in fear of their lives. Under Afghanistan’s strict Islamic law conversion to another religion is a capital offense and Muslim leaders have been calling for Rahman’s execution and threatening to kill him.
Rahman is in hiding and is thought to be under the protection of the UN through whom he has requested asylum outside Afghanistan. An offer has already been made by the Italian government. Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, announced yesterday that he would ask the Council of Ministers to “grant Rahman hospitality in Italy.”
Italy has close ties with Afghanistan; the Afghan royal family lived in exile in Rome for 30 years, returning to Afghanistan only after the fall of the Taliban regime.
When the announcement of Rahman’s release was made public, demonstrations broke out in which protesters chanted, “Death to Christians” among the anti-Bush and anti-American slogans.