"We must remember that these men have a ruthless plan for the world in the form of a theocratic Islamic caliphate. In Taliban-ruled Afghanistan we saw a glimpse of their utopia: women degraded, freedom denied and followers of other brands of Islam exterminated." -- Faith J.H. McDonnell, Director of IRD's Religious Liberty Programs
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, October21 /Christian Newswire/ -- A 34-year-old Christian aid worker was gunned down by Taliban assailants in Kabul, Afghanistan yesterday. The militants said Gayle Williams, a dual British-South African national who helped handicapped Afghans, was killed for spreading religious propaganda.
According to the Associated Press, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said by telephone: "We killed her for spreading Christian propaganda. This woman came to Afghanistan to teach Christianity to the people of Afghanistan. Our (leaders) issued a decree to kill this woman.''
Williams was in Afghanistan to help ease poverty as part of the British-based Christian aid organization SERVE (Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises). She focused on community development and education and training for people with disabilities.
"It's not the case that they preach, not at all," said the Rina van der Ende, a spokesperson for SERVE. "They are here to do NGO (aid) work."
IRD Director of Religious Liberty Programs Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
"Westerners living in pluralistic societies may struggle to understand how the Taliban could gun down an unarmed aid worker who lived to help people with disabilities. The answer is simple: these were evil men whose warped ideology justifies every evil act.
"Williams' fate is a reminder that extremism is much less the result of unmet material need than evidence that evil exists in the world and must be confronted.
"Unlike ordinary criminals, these extremists believed that they were operating with religious sanction. Their fanaticism must be met with condemnation, not excuse-making that Williams somehow deserved this fate because her Christian faith led her to help disabled people in a hostile land.
"This was no act by ordinary criminals, but rather an act of intimidation by cowards that preyed upon a peaceful woman.
"We must remember that these men have a ruthless plan for the world in the form of a theocratic Islamic caliphate. In Taliban-ruled Afghanistan we saw a glimpse of their utopia: women degraded, freedom denied and followers of other brands of Islam exterminated."