RFI Executive Vice President Weighs In On The Current Threat to Religious Minorities in Afghanistan

August 20, 2021

RFI’s Executive Vice President Eric Patterson recently commented on the rapid, alarming takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the implications for religious freedom in the country. Christians and Shia Muslims have faced state persecution in the past and are at risk of increased discrimination and violence under Taliban rule.

In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, Patterson highlighted the religious freedom violations occurring in Afghanistan long before the Taliban took control of the country in recent days:

Afghanistan is already one of the worst places for violence against women and the persecution of religious minorities, including Christians. Time will only tell if there is some resolve by the Taliban leadership to be a more inclusive, peaceful government.

The West did not push Afghanistan in the right direction…Christians are destined for greater persecution. There has been tremendous persecution against them for the past 20 years despite the U.S. and the West being there. It is a dire situation for religious minorities.

He addressed similar concerns during an interview on the Drew Mariani Show, during which he explained:

Everyone across Afghanistan, particularly Christians and the Shia minority, are holding their breath wondering what is going to happen. The Taliban are trying to present an image of law and order and of a very peaceful transition…but what I think we will see very quickly is increased persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will, undoubtedly, also threaten the legal rights and physical safety of women. Patterson argued that the Taliban are likely to move quickly to strip away rights and protections that women had begun to enjoy in the years since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001 by U.S. military forces. Patterson presented a bleak picture of what is to come, “What we will see is a type of dramatic bullying of women if they do not conform. In the past, the Taliban has done everything from executing women, torturing them, and forcing them into marriages.”

Afghanistan has been labeled as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) over the past several years despite attempts by the United States to make the region a safer place for religious minorities. Patterson continued, “Afghanistan has never been a good news story on religious freedom…in my opinion, it’s one of the top five worst places in the world year after year, to be a Christian, and on other religious freedom trends. It’s a real failure of the West’s human rights policies and U.S. international religious freedom policy.”

To hear Patterson address the religious freedom dimensions of the crisis in Afghanistan in an in-depth conversation, listen to this extended interview with Dr. Grazie Christie on Conversations with Consequences.

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More RFI commentary on the crisis in Afghanistan: