“No one said who was Christian. They were afraid of being caught,” Ehsani explained.
In Ehsani’s case, his parents decided to keep their faith a secret from their very young son for fear that he would accidentally mention it to one of his classmates.
He found out that his parents were Christians only after being questioned by one of his elementary school classmates.
“I was going to school and boys were asking me, ‘Why doesn't your father come to the mosque?’ I went home. I asked my father why he did not go to the mosque,” he said.
“My father asked me, ‘Who told you this?’ I said my classmates told me.”
“Then, my father told me that I should never tell anyone that we are Christians,” he said. “We do not go to the mosque. We need to go to church.”
Ehsani said that he had many questions for his father: “What are Christians like? Where are Christians?” But his father urged him that he must keep everything a secret.
Despite his father’s precautions, the Taliban discovered the family’s identity.
“When they found out that we were Christians, unfortunately my parents were killed,” he said.
Since coming to Italy, Ehsani, 32, has earned a law degree. He hopes that he can help to rescue other Christian families from the same tragedy he faced as a child.
He has been in touch with the Christian family currently stranded in Kabul via WhatsApp for the past six months. He told CNA that it took four months for the family to open up to him enough to share that they too were Catholic.
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Afghanistan is over 99% Muslim, with the majority being Sunni. There are small groups of Christians, including about 200 Catholics, as well as Buddhists, Hindus, and Baháʼís.
Afghanistan’s Christian community is comprised mostly of converts from Islam and is the country’s largest religious minority group. Due to persecution, the Christian community remains largely closeted and hidden from the public eye.
As of Aug. 20, the Catholic family he has been in touch with is still waiting in Kabul airport, according to Ehsani.
Tens of thousands of people remain to be evacuated, according to the Associated Press. About 5,700 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the U.S. military.
Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban Aug. 15. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country the same day.
Prior to the Taliban takeover, Open Doors ranked Afghanistan second on its World Watch List on persecution, “only very slightly less oppressive than in North Korea.”