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Fact Check-Old hoax about 22 Christian missionaries sentenced to death recirculates

Social media users are sharing a message requesting prayer for 22 Christian missionaries who have been sentenced to death by Afghan Islamists that has been circulating since 2009.

Examples can be seen here and here .

The message in one post (here) reads: “Have just been requested to pray for the 22 Christian Missionaries who have been sentenced to death tomorrow afternoon by the Islamic in Afghanistan - I am putting this out there for everyone to pray for them. I just do not understand the hatred these people have - so please add your prayers. As well for the young girls, women, and for everyone who are being subjected to their cruelty.”

Some posts mention 22 missionaries, while others mention 229. Most posts mention that the missionaries will be sentenced to death “tomorrow afternoon”.

A message using almost the exact same wording has been circulating since 2009, according to fact checker Snopes here . Fact checkers AFP and Africa Check have also debunked the claim here and here .

An example of an older post from 2016 with the same message can be seen here .

The Taliban entered Kabul on Aug. 15 after successive days of significant advancement through major cities in Afghanistan (here), (here), (here).

A Christian family in Afghanistan appealed to Pope Francis for help fleeing persecution, as reported by the Washington Post here .

Reuters found no recent reports of 22 or 229 Christian missionaries being sentenced to death or executed in Afghanistan by media or human rights organizations.

The 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom by the U.S. Department of State (here) says that minority groups such as Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is and Christians make up less than 0.3 percent of the population in Afghanistan, although accurate estimations of the Baha’is and Christian populations are not available.

Christian representatives reported no public Christian churches, the report said.

It says: “According to international sources, Baha’is and Christians lived in constant fear of exposure and were reluctant to reveal their religious identities to anyone. According to some sources, converts to Christianity and individuals studying Christianity reported receiving threats, including death threats, from family members opposed to their interest in Christianity. Christian sources estimated there were “dozens” of Christian missionaries in the country, mostly foreign but some local.”

This environment would have made it difficult to know of or keep track of Christians or Christian missionaries in Afghanistan.

The Washington Post report also says, “Afghan citizens are not legally allowed to convert to Christianity and there is little data on the number of Christians living in the country.” This would make the presence of missionaries in the country unlikely and very difficult to trace.

Reuters contacted the Department of State and Amnesty International for comment on the veracity of these claims but did not immediately hear back.

VERDICT

False. The old hoax about 22 Christian missionaries being sentenced to death in Afghanistan has been circulating for over a decade. Reuters found no evidence of multiple missionaries in danger in Afghanistan.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .   

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