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Where Afghan Christians Flee After Converting to Christianity

Capital city of nearby country becomes haven for converts—even though denied refugee status.

The New York Times sheds fresh light on the challenges faced by Afghan Christians seeking religious freedom, spotlighting the growth of a refugee church in India's capital city, New Delhi.

As the Times observes in a report worth reading, more than 200 Christian converts from Muslim backgrounds have fled to New Delhi, seeking refuge from the Taliban and from political backlash after television coverage resulted in one Afghan politician's urging the government to execute converts in 2010. As CT noted in July 2010, the Afghan government also suspended operations of two Christian NGOs after an Afghan TV station broadcast coverage of baptisms by Western aid workers.

Though members of the Afghan Church of New Delhi say they feel safer in India, their lives are complicated by their lack of legal recognition as refugees.

Although the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs fleeing Afghanistan for India, the Indian government's refusal to do so means that Afghan Christians cannot seek legal protection from discrimination from other religious groups. Such discrimination often arises from Afghan Muslims who have also sought refuge in India. Many Afghan Christians make a meager living as translators for Afghanis seeking medical care in India, but the language and social challenges continue.

CT has regularly covered the struggle for religious freedom in Afghanistan, including its ranking in the top 10 countries for religious persecution and violence against other Christian aid groups working in the country.

Posted:July 25, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Where Afghan Christians Flee After Converting to Christianity