Afghan Scholars Want Korean Missionaries Out

More than 500 Afghan scholars pressed on Wednesday, August 2, for the expulsion of hundreds of South Koreans on the grounds they were seeking to promulgate Christianity in the conservative Muslim country.

Afghan Scholars Want Korean Missionaries Out

"They are not needed here," said Sayed Haider Hashimi, an organizer of the protest in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, reported Reuters.

"They have come to promulgate Christianity and the government should send them out."

Another scholar warned the government of "bad consequences" if the Koreans were not sent back home.

But a government official in Mazar-i-Sharif said there was no sign the Koreans promulgating Christianity in Afghanistan.

More than 1,000 South Korean Christians are in Afghanistan for a three-day "peace festival" which they say aims to help Afghans and not to preach Christianity.

The event is organized the Institute of Asian Culture and Development, a South Korea-based Christian humanitarian group that has been in Afghanistan for four years.


The Korean embassy in Kabul confirmed the arrival of its nationals, but declined to give a word on the nature of their mission.

"The South Koreans are here -- more than 1,000. They got tourist visas," an embassy official said.

The South Koreans arrived ahead of the event this weekend on tourist visas despite their government's recommendation against their visit and some attempts to stop them at the borders, embassy and Western officials said.

The embassy has suggested the roughly 200 South Koreans who live in Afghanistan, most of them in the capital, take their holidays abroad until the event is over, an embassy official told AFP.

"Most of them have followed our recommendation -- I've been getting reports that the majority have already left," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"We are very concerned about our own nationals' security. We have given so many warnings to the organizers but they have made their own decision."

In Seoul Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon also expressed his "deep concern".

"We again request that the organizers should cancel the event and that the travelers should give second thoughts to their trip," he told reporters.

A foreign ministry official said Seoul was considering plans for a mass evacuation of South Koreans from Afghanistan if necessary.

Kang Sung Han, a member of the visiting South Korean group in Kabul, denied that their mission was to proselytize in the Muslim country.

"They have come to travel to villages to teach people computer skills, teach them language and provide them educational and health facilities," Han told Reuters.

Proselytizing, a sensitive issue, is banned in Muslim conservative Afghanistan.

Thousands of Afghans took to the streets last February to protest the release of an Afghan man, who was facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity.

Abdur-Rahman was later released from prison and then spirited to Italy after the intervention of Western leaders, including US President George Bush, and Pope Benedict of the Vatican.

The New York Times reported in November 2004 that South Korean missionaries were taking the lead in aggressively evangelizing Muslims in Arab countries, applying discreet methods and making use of a seemingly endless financial support.

South Koreans proselytize, not in their own language, but in the language of the country they operate in or in English, said the American daily.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16