Evangelicals Defy Warnings to Head to Afghanistan
Chosun Ilbo, South Korea
Some 500 Korean evangelical Christians have headed to Afghanistan in defiance of government warnings to attend what is billed as a "peace festival" there.
A government official said on Monday, "With the security situation growing even worse due to the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, we have to be prepared for everything." The Institute of Asian Culture and Development (IACD), made up of various evangelical groups, has been working on an "Afghan peace march" of some 2,000 participants, since last December.
Event organizers say it is "primarily a cultural event, with a small peace rally," and there will be no religious content and thus no room for misunderstanding. Kabul's foreign minister in March wrote to the Korean government withdrawing support for the event saying Afghanistan cannot guarantee security. When it emerged that participants would travel on individual visit visas, Kabul temporarily suspended all visas for Koreans on June 27.
"Even aside from the state of international affairs, Afghanistan is a Muslim country and the majority of its people are Muslims, therefore it may be dangerous place for a Christian event," a Foreign Ministry official said. "By way of the embassy there, we are requesting that the participants return home ahead of time."