09/08/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the last pocket of resistance to Taliban rule in Afghanistan fell to Taliban fighters on Monday, September 6. Despite the claim of victory by the Taliban, the leader of the resistance forces did not concede defeat.
On August 15, Taliban fighters entered Kabul in a lightning-fast victory over the former government’s security forces. With the Taliban in effective control of the country, some resistance forces, led by Ahmed Massoud, fled to the Panjshir Valley.
In the weeks that followed, the Taliban focused their military forces on defeating the resistance in the Panjshir Valley as U.S.-led forces completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“With this victory, our country is completely taken out of the quagmire of war,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesman, told the media. “Anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard. We will not allow another.”
The Taliban published videos of their flag being raised over the governor’s house in Panjshir as proof of their victory. However, resistance leader Ahmed Massoud took to Twitter to counter the Taliban’s claim.
“We are in the Panjshir and our resistance will continue,” Massoud tweeted. Al Jazeera reports that Massoud said he was safe, but gave no details on his whereabouts.
With the Taliban in complete control of Afghanistan, many minorities are bracing for increased persecution. This includes Afghanistan’s small and secretive Christian minority.
While ICC has not confirmed any targeted killings of Christians, Release International’s spokesman, Andrew Boyd, claimed that at least one Christian has been killed by the Taliban.
“The Taliban have been checking phones to check if there are any Bibles downloaded onto their phones,” Boyd told GB News in August. “We have a report that at least one Hazara has been killed as a result of this.”
Afghanistan’s Christian community is almost exclusively comprised of converts from Islam. Some estimate the Christian population to be between 8,000 and 12,000, making it one of the country’s largest religious minority groups. However, due to extreme persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.
Their status as converts makes Afghan Christians direct targets for persecution by both extremist groups and society in general. Leaving Islam is considered extremely shameful and converts can face dire consequences if their conversion is discovered.
In many cases, known Christians must flee Afghanistan or risk being killed.
According to the Taliban’s ideology, Afghanistan is a Muslim country and non-Muslims must leave Afghanistan or accept second-class status. For Christians coming from convert backgrounds, the Taliban will consider them apostates and subject them to Sharia law’s deadliest consequences.
ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark, said, “We here at International Christian Concern continue to pray for the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. With the last pockets of the country falling to the rule of the Taliban, we are concerned that we will see increased persecution of minorities, including Christians, soon. Afghanistan’s Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution by the Taliban. As converts from Islam, Afghan Christians will not be viewed as a religious minority, but a community of criminals the Taliban must punish. Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Afghanistan was one of the hardest places in the world to be a Christian. With the Taliban now in complete control, it will be nearly impossible to be an Afghan Christian.”