FaithWorld

Western aid groups deny religious agenda in Afghanistan

convertTwo Western aid organisations have denied allegations they were engaged in Christian proselytising in Afghanistan after the government suspended their activities following a television report.  Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid said they had been operating in Afghanistan for decades and their work was entirely humanitarian.

“Norwegian Church Aid has no mandate to influence people’s religious beliefs in any part of the world — neither in Afghanistan,” the organisation said on its website.

“We have never and will never engage in any religious proselytism. Such activities are contrary to our mandate as a humanitarian organization, and we fully respect the religion of the communities we serve,” Maurice A. Bloem, Church World Service”s deputy director and head of programs, said in a statement.

A private Afghan television said the two groups were trying to convert Muslims, triggering a government investigation. Proselytising is an offence punishable by death in Afghanistan.  Answering a question at a news conference on Tuesday, Waheed Omer, spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, said the government was taking the matter very seriously.

Read the full story here. (Photo: Abdul Rahman, an Afghan convert to Christianity, holds a Bible at a Kabul court in this March 22, 2006 video frame grab. Rahman faced the death penalty for converting but Kabul relased him after an international outcry and he was allowed to emigrate to Italy. Rahman told a  judge he became a Christian while working for an aid group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan/Reuters TV)

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Afghanistan to probe NGOs after “preaching” report

aid

Afghanistan has launched an investigation into the activities of hundreds of aid groups after a local media report accused a Norwegian organisation of preaching Christianity, a crime punishable by death.

Foreign and Afghan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in essential humanitarian projects across the country — helping out in areas ranging from health to education — but some Afghans remain skeptical of their motives and suspect they could be a front for proselytising. (Photo: An Afghan girl with refugee women waiting to receive free blankets distributed by a foreign charity in Kabul on December 2, 2002/Radu Sigheti)

Afghanistan’s economy ministry said on Sunday it had formed a commission to investigate all NGOs after a local TV report accusing Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) of promoting Christianity.

Morocco expels proselytising Christians ‘to prevent conflict’

rabat church

Saint Pierre Cathedral in Rabat, November 12, 2008/Rafael Marchante

Morocco has expelled foreign Christians who tried to convert Muslims because, as a moderate Islamic state, it wants to foster “order and calm” and avoid a clash between faiths, its Islamic affairs minister has  said.

The government has expelled around 100 foreign Christians since March, many of them aid workers, in what Western diplomats have called an unprecedented crackdown on undercover preaching.

“These incidents (expulsions) were prompted by the activism of some foreigners who undermined public order,” Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday. “There are some who hide their proselytism and religious activism under the guise of other activities.”