Afghanistan Global

Attacks on Shia Minorities Increase in Afghanistan

The Taliban intelligence directorate asked school teachers in the Herat province to fill out a form to specify their religious identity, as well as their home address, duty station, and contact information last week.  This religious identification requirement caused panic among the Shia minorities living in the Herat province, some of whom strongly opposed the action.

A teacher told Kabul Now news that “we were never asked under the former government which Madhhab (school of Islam) – Sunni or Shia – we followed. We don’t know why they ask for specification of our religious identity.”  Teachers in Herat also expressed concern over the action and said that it would harm the unity between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

Attacks on Shia minorities have increased in recent years. On August 1, 2017, the Islamic State took responsibility for the attack on Jawadia mosque, the largest Shia mosque in Herat, which killed 33 people and injured 66 others.

On October 20, 2017, the Islamic State bombed the Imam Zaman Shia mosque in Kabul, killing at least 58 people and injuring 45 more. On October 8, 2021, an explosion at a Shia mosque in Kunduz province killed 150 and injured 300 people. A week later, on October 15, 2021, there was another attack on a Shia mosque in Kandahar that killed and injured over 100 Shia minorities. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) took the responsibility for the attacks.

Shia minorities’ schools, hospitals, and universities have also been attacked. This week, there were two separate attacks on public busses located in the Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood of western Kabul, an area where the Hazara Shia minorities live. During the previous government, Shias were allowed to have guards to protect their mosques, but since the Taliban returned in mid-August, they took away the guns and left the Shia’s mosques without guards or protection.

Sources: KabulNow 11/16/21; BBC News 8/2/17; Human Rights Watch 10/25/21;

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