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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #2

AFGHANISTAN

Country rank

2

Persecution score

93.52

Last year’s rank

2

Region

Asia

Persecution Type

Clan oppression (Very strong), Ethno-religious hostility (Very strong), Islamic oppression (Very strong), Organized corruption and crime (Strong)

Persecution Level

Extreme

Population

38,055,000

Christians

A small number (OD estimate%)  According to OD-estimate

Main Religion

Islam

Government

Presidential Islamic Republic

Leader

President Ashraf Ghani

Through local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Afghanistan through:

• Encouragement, prayer, and presence ministry
• Pastoral care
• Literacy and vocational training
• Distribution of Christian materials
• Bible courses
• Emergency aid to victims of violent persecution
• Women’s ministry
• Trauma counseling

ABOUT AFGHANISTAN

What does persecution look like in Afghanistan?

It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. Either they have to flee the country or they will be killed. 

How women experience persecution

It is estimated that 70-80 percent of Afghan women face forced marriage, and more than half of the women in the country are married before the legal marriage age of 16. Coerced marriage is often used to ensure a woman stays a Muslim.

Christian women in Afghanistan are highly vulnerable to all forms of physical abuse and have very little social or financial autonomy. If their faith is discovered, even if they are not killed, women may be kept in the home or sold into slavery or prostitution. “Honor killings” continue to be rife.

How men experience persecution

All Christians in Afghanistan face the threat of murder, torture, imprisonment and ostracism because of their faith.

Male converts must often find alternative sources of income, if they are to avoid exposure by not taking part in religious practices in the marketplace. Since men are the bread winners, families rely on them to exist financially – they suffer if men are kidnapped or killed, and it is considered shameful for the women to seek paid work.

What has changed this year?

Afghanistan remains the second highest country on the World Watch List, and persecution is only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea. ISIS and the Taliban continue to have a strong, violent presence in Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling large regions.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

All Christians in Afghanistan are extremely vulnerable to persecution. Areas controlled by the Taliban are particularly oppressive, but there is no safe way to express any form of Christian faith in the country.

How can I help Christians in Afghanistan?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Afghanistan?

Open Doors raises prayer support for persecuted believers in Afghanistan.

Pray

– Pray for protection for the small percentage of Afghani believers. Pray that God would make “seeing eyes blind” and that anyone who might be looking for secret Afghan Christians would not discover them.
– Pray that despite their isolation, Afghan believers would be strengthened and encouraged in their faith. Pray that they would find safe ways to access the Word of God and communicate with other believers.
– Pray that God would be at work in the hearts of Islamic extremists – such as members of the Taliban and ISIS – that they would come to know the love of Jesus and that He would turn their lives around.


A PRAYER FOR AFGHANISTAN

Dear Lord, please protect the small number of Christians among the millions of people who live in Afghanistan. Thank You that, despite their small number, they have discovered the greatest love in the world. Please keep showing them Your wisdom, mercy and comfort, and give opportunities for believers to meet together , despite the opposition.

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.