Could you give us an update on Afghanistan? What’s the situation on the ground?
The situation is still very chaotic—there are lots of things happening in the country.
The Taliban are trying to establish their government. Some things are very secure, such as all the checkpoints, and they have local governors installed. But then other things are more complicated for them—they are in control of the airports in Kabul, but according to the media, they have now asked the Turkish government to supply a crew to control the airport on their behalf.
They’re the conquerors, the victors, and they want to show that they are there. Many bad things are happening, but it’s different from region to region or village to village. It depends on the local commander—what would he do?
Some women are already being kidnapped, taken from their houses, and forced into marriage, although we don’t know the exact number. Of course, many women will have to buy burqas, especially in the big cities. In many rural areas, it was like the Taliban never left during the last 20 years. For them, it was still the same, very strict. In other places, there was more freedom, but now they must go back. We also know from local sources and the media that many women haven’t returned to work because they’re afraid they will be punished for it later.
There is a lot of fear. It’s not just the girls who are at risk; it’s the boys too. The Taliban may recruit them. This is a difficult time to be a parent in Afghanistan—how can you protect your children?
And then there are the Christians who face all that and must hide their faith. They are thinking, how much does the Taliban know? How much do my neighbors know? Will they betray us?
Maybe someone will accuse you of something that you have not even done, but they so fear for their own lives that they must give the Taliban something. So, it’s a country ruled by fear now.
We understand that there may also be food shortages very soon.
How about the recent bombings, the recent airport attacks? Will we see more acts of terrorism like that in the coming days?
That bombing shows us that the Taliban are not the most radical group in the region. The Islamic State in Khorasan might be even more extreme, and they don’t agree at all with the Taliban. There is history there.
There might be more fighting and instability. Overall, the Taliban has seized control of the country, but there might still be conflicts with those other terrorist groups moving forward.
How about the church and the secret believers in the country—are they being hunted down? Have there already been cases of torture of Christians?
There are so many rumors, and a lot of organizations spread exaggerated messages.
Looking at the facts, there is no official church for indigenous believers in the country. The last church building that was there was destroyed 50 years ago.
The number of indigenous believers is relatively small. That makes them more challenging to reach. Are they being hunted down? They’re a target. When you get a house visit, the Taliban want to see if you are a good Muslim in their eyes, according to their standard of what makes a good Muslim. So, if you are a Christian, you’re not just a bad Muslim; you are an apostate—and you will be targeted.
The Taliban are hunting down anyone who is not with them—that includes Christians.
Many people say that Christians were a lot safer in the last 20 years, and the church has grown. The church might have grown, but it has little to do with the Western troops’ extra safety. Our World Watch List is proof of that because the persecution score for Afghanistan increased over the past 20 years. Now we have the added layer of the Taliban taking complete control.