Christianity began Tuesday September 4 in the Afghan Capital Kabul behind closed doors. The Taliban regime’s Chief Justice, Noor Mohammed Saqib, told reporters that despite an earlier promises of an open trial, the proceedings would be closed and that they are expected to last several days.
The official insisted that a "fair resolution" would be passed in accordance with Islamic Sharia law, which analysts say could mean expulsion after a jail term. However, human rights workers fear that 16 other Afghan workers will be executed by the country’s Islamic rulers in a later stage.
They are held separately from the two Americans, two Australians and four Germans who were not present in court.
The latest developments came as a big disappointment for diplomats and parents of two American women, who last week saw their children for the first time since their arrest August 5th.
All detained workers charged with preaching the Gospel are staff members of the German based relief organization Shelter Now, which has supported tens of thousands of refugees in war ravaged Afghanistan. Several parents and relatives of the detained Shelter Now workers are in Kabul, where they await the outcome of the trial.
Religious police officials have said that Bibles and other Christian materials were seized from the homes and offices of the detainees, as "part of evidence against the aid workers." The Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, is expected to have the last word on the penalty, but legal analysts say there is no precedent to follow.
As the court procedures began Tuesday, dozens of other, mainly American, relief workers had left the country by road, after they were expelled apparently suspicion of promoting another religion than Islam. They were all staff members of the two US based Christian relief organizations International Assistance Mission (IAM) and Serve, whose offices were closed down Friday by the Taliban regime.
Six foreign workers of Partners in Aviation and Communications Technology, which is affiliated with IAM, also left their offices in the Afghan Capital Kabul, saying it was "too dangerous to remain." Parents and relatives of the detained Shelter Now workers are in Kabul, where they await the outcome of the trial.
The United Nations Food Program have expressed concern that the people of Afghanistan will suffer more than ever because of the crack down against Christianity in the troubled nation. With an increasing number of relief workers forced to leave, at least tens of thousands of refugees are now believe to be left alone in impoverished Afghanistan.