Senior leaders in Christian organisations, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, have called on Boris Johnson’s government to bring Christian Afghan converts to the UK for their safety.
According to Lord Carey, ‘The British government and its allies have contributed to the dangers faced by Afghan Christians and have a moral responsibility towards them.’
The peer, who is a patron of Christian charity Barnabas Fund, expressed his disappointment that more has been done to airlift animals than to rescue Christians at risk of extinction.
He said, ‘I am dispirited that Christians have seemingly been overlooked by the government even though they face the most extreme dangers under Taliban rule.’
On 7 September, the Taliban announced the formation of a new government, which will rule by strict Sharia law. The Christians of Afghanistan who are first-generation converts will, with their children, be considered apostates (murtadd).
Under Sharia law, Christians who remain in the country risk being hunted down and killed by the Taliban.
Barnabas Fund has been struggling to get a hearing from the government, having assisted 400 Afghan Christians who have escaped into a neighbouring country and supporting another 400 in Afghanistan.
The organisation is currently enabling another 1,200 to get out of Afghanistan and into safe countries, but this is still fraught with dangers.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of Barnabas Fund, wrote on 18 August to three MPs requesting that they ask the government to allow Afghan Christians to be resettled in the UK.
The letter explained why the UK has a unique responsibility to help and support believers from Afghanistan.
It said, ‘I hope that, within the “religious and other minorities” category, the small community of Afghan Christians can be made a high priority for resettlement.
‘As converts from Islam they are liable to punishment for their apostasy, under the strict sharia rule of the Taliban.
‘The Hanafi school of Sharia, which predominates in Afghanistan, specifies death for a sane adult male apostate and imprisonment for a sane adult female apostate.’
Dr Sookhdeo said, ‘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.’