17 August 2022
A survey of SAT-7 viewers in Afghanistan has shown that Christians continue to live in fear one year after the Taliban seized power in the country.
“Fear and dread have taken all of Afghanistan and have especially affected religious and ethnic minorities,” explains Daanesh*, one of many Afghan viewers who correspond with the SAT-7 Christian TV and digital media network.
“At checkpoints, peoples’ mobile phones are checked, especially those belonging to Persian speakers,” says Amin, another viewer. “Those who are not Pashtuns are imprisoned and beaten up on the pretext that they are dissidents or for other trumped-up charges without any kind of evidence. The security situation for someone like me who has accepted another faith is extremely concerning,” Amin continues.
Baset, a schoolteacher, agrees: “As Christians, we are exposed to security threats and must remain in hiding. We can’t be freely active online, especially on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, because they are all monitored and controlled.”
Arman, who was dismissed from his job in the legal sector by the country’s new rulers, said, “There is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that rules society. Every moment we live with the possibility of physical violence, arrest, humiliating and insulting treatment, and even summary executions.”
Those who responded to a SAT-7 message asking people about conditions on the ground also gave a picture of severe financial hardship and the mental health effects this has. Although the respondents on this occasion were males, they spoke of women and girls having their futures taken away and voiced concern of a likely increase in child marriages.
While Afghanistan has no authorised churches, the number of Christian believers has been growing especially over the last two decades. Since 2017 SAT-7 has seen Afghans become the second largest group to contact its Persian language channel after Iranians.
Despite the dangers they face, viewers tell the channel that they are depending on their new Christian faith.
“The only hope we have is in the true God who grants us comfort and grace. This trust and faith in the power of God has caused me to live with peace in my heart and mind, without anxiety and fear,” Arman said.
Daanesh, a businessman and more mature believer, saw a future beyond the current repression. “We have several families here, including my own, who are all believers. Our hope is that the Lord will touch the heart of the people of Afghanistan and the situation in the country will calm down and we will be able to build a church and worship the Lord alongside our brothers and sisters.”
SAT-7 PARS Executive Director Panayiotis Keenan comments: “We praise God that we can share His love and hope with our Afghan viewers every day through our Farsi and Dari programmes. By His grace, we are in a position to provide much needed spiritual and emotional support to viewers through our Viewer Support teams as they face increasing challenges and restrictions in Afghanistan. Please ask the Lord to use SAT-7 PARS to reach the hearts and minds of people in Afghanistan and to help sustain our Afghan brothers and sisters in their walk with Him.”
*All viewer names changed for security reasons