Barnabas Fund helped 400 Afghan Christians to escape, wants to rescue more

Barnabas Fund, a charity that supports persecuted Christians, reports that they helped 400 Christians escape Afghanistan, with a further 400 supported by them still in the country and 1200 the charity is currently helping escape.

The figures come from an article by Barnabas Fund Patron, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in the London Daily Telegraph.

Before the evacuation, the Christian population of Afghanistan was estimated as including several hundred families in hiding by the charity. Carey estimates the total number as between 5,000 to 8,000. Barnabas fund is calling on Western governments to include Christians in their intake of Afghan refugees.

Western governments are responsible for Afghan Christians as their military forces supported the imposition of Sharia Law against them. Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, wrote an account of the effect of Sharia law on Afghan Christians in a letter to key MP’s in the  UK. “In 2010, I was in Kandahar as a cultural advisor to ISAF,” Sookhdeo writes. “(In Kandahar, it was the UK that led the ISAF military mission.) ISAF had a religious engagement strategy that included neutralising the Taliban’s religious credentials.

“In other words, ISAF wanted to convince the Afghan population that President Karzai was at least as sharia-compliant as the Taliban so that devout Muslims would have no qualms about supporting him. As part of this strategy, ISAF had commissioned two qadis (Islamic religious judges) to write fatwas (Islamic decisions or rulings) on behalf of the Afghan government, which would show that the Karzai­led government was fully compliant with sharia. The content of the fatwas was disseminated across Afghanistan by radio, TV and print media. The cost of all this was paid for by ISAF.

“One of these fatwas was on the subject of Islam’s apostasy law and, in line with the apostasy law, the fatwa called for the killing of those who leave Islam. It was, therefore, in effect a call for the killing of Afghan Christians. I brought this to the attention of four senior officers involved in the commissioning, dissemination and funding of the fatwas: a US major in Special Operations, a British colonel in Intelligence, a British colonel in the Legal Department and finally the British brigadier-general with responsibility for Psychological Operations who had initiated the use of fatwas. (I can give you his name if you wish.)

“I was tasked by the general to meet the two qadis in their location, which meant travelling under Special Forces protection to their village, many miles outside Kandahar, where I sat with them and discussed the fatwas. They confirmed that they had written the fatwa instructing the killing of apostates. Afterwards, I informed the general verbally, explaining again to him the implication of this fatwa for Afghan Christians, and handed him a written report of my visit. He made no comment and laid the file aside. Later I heard from a private military contractor in the USA that the fatwa had indeed been disseminated across Afghanistan.”

“The circulation of the fatwa must have immeasurably increased the danger faced by Afghan Christians, even in areas ruled by the Afghan government. Now they are under the rule of the Taliban who, we can be sure, will not hesitate to kill Christian men, women and children, on the basis of their statement that they will rule by sharia and their track record of following a very extreme interpretation of sharia. It is important to understand that when the Taliban say they will protect religious minorities, they mean Shia Muslims or Christian-­born Christians from historic denominations. They do not mean Christian converts from Islam, who are classified as apostates and traitors to the “Islamic nation”, deserving of the death penalty.”

Barnabas Fund believes that governments need to be lobbied. This is because previous efforts have not served minorities well. Carey describes how the program for resettling Syrian refugees has not served minorities – Christians, other minority religions, and other vulnerable groups.

“The much-trumpeted relocation scheme from Syria almost completely ignored the needs of Christians, who had experienced the most persecution. The figures we saw suggested only about 1% of places on relocation schemes went to minorities. The UNHCR’s programme is functionally discriminatory because those applying for asylum do so through camps which are often no-go areas for religious minorities.”