In a country of crippling poverty, ethnic fault lines and decades of war, Islamic piety offers many Afghans a rare thread of national solidarity. To reject Islam is seen as tantamount to treason.
“Religious identity is the only thing that Afghans can claim,” said Daud Moradian, a professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “They do not have a national identity, they do not have an economic identity, and there is no middle or working class here.”
That leaves Josef almost nowhere to turn for protection. The police would be no help. Converts report being beaten and sexually abused while in custody. His family in Afghanistan is also a dead end: His uncles are hunting for him now, too.