Religious scholars in Afghanistan one of Taliban’s most frequent targets
- Over the last 16 years of war in the country, hundreds and perhaps thousands of ulema have been killed, although official numbers are difficult to track.
- Taliban members surveil sermons to monitor adherence to Taliban interpretations of sharia, both courting and threatening scholars to buttress their power across the nation’s provinces.
- Religious leaders note that the targeting of scholars is driven by anxiety over scholars’ influence on communities, a desire for ideological control, and the suppression of criticism.
“Taliban Target: Scholars of Islam” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Religious scholar shot dead in eastern Afghanistan” (Andalou Agency | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Jim Huylebroek/The New York Times)
Attack on Shiite mosque in Kabul kills more than 30, injures dozens more
- A suicide attacker entered the Baqir-ul-Olum mosque during a gathering for Arbaeen, a devotional ritual.
- Among the dead were a number of children, and reports put the number of injured at at least 35.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a series targeting Shiite Muslims in the Sunni-majority country.
“IS claims attack that kills dozens at Shi’ite mosque in Kabul” (Reuters)
“Afghanistan Kabul mosque suicide attack kills dozens” (BBC)
“Afghanistan mosque attack: 30 dead, ISIS claims responsibility” (CNN)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via BBC)
Bombing during protest in Kabul devastates Afghanistan’s Hazara community
- A triple suicide attack left at least 80 dead and 231 wounded at a protest in the Afghan capital, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks in the country since 2001.
- The demonstration had been organized to protest an electricity route in the country and the perceived abandonment of the Hazara community by political leaders.
- Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazaras have long been targeted in the country, including in recent decades by the Taliban and now the Islamic State.
“Kabul Bombing Adds New Layers of Agony for Afghanistan’s Hazaras” (The New York Times)
“ISIS Claims Suicide Attack On Kabul Protest By Hazara Minority, Dozens Killed” (The Huffington Post)
“Kabul explosion: Islamic State ‘admits attack on Hazara protest’” (BBC)
(Image Credit: Adam Ferguson/The New York Times)
Hazara communities in Afghanistan protest changes to new electricity line route
- Thousands from Hazara communities in the country are expected to protest after officials outlined a new route away from provinces with large Hazara populations for what they argue are technical and economic reasons.
- The electricity project is a part of the Asian Development Bank’s plan to connect energy-rich Central Asia with the energy-deprived countries of the western subcontinent.
- The resource row comes as the government has pledged increased protection for the Shiite Hazara minority, who have faced kidnapping and murder at the hands of militants in the Sunni-majority country.
“Afghan minority Hazaras plan protest over power line route” (Reuters)
“Afghan Kidnappers Prey on Hazaras” (The New York Times, November 2015)
“Hazara killings: Thousands protest in Afghanistan blaming militants for murder of seven villagers” (AFP/Reuters, via ABC, November 2015)
The Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has seen millions uprooted as local communities have found themselves caught in the middle of the conflict between the Taliban and a coalition of Afghan and U.S. forces. After the Taliban took control of the country in the mid-1990s, two of the country’s religious minorities–Hindus and Sikhs–saw their insecurity skyrocket, with land seizures, open harassment, and economic exclusion causing most of the tens of thousands in their ranks to flee for asylum elsewhere. Anadolu Agency, a state-run media outlet in Turkey, provides a glimpse of the outlook Afghan Hindus and Sikhs have on their prospects today.
“Afghan Sikhs, Hindus fear violence but long for home” (Anadolu Agency)
“Feeling alienated, Sikhs choose to leave Afghanistan” (The Hindu)
“Oppressed by Taliban, Afghan Sikh families seek help from DSGMC” (The Times of India)
“Facing Intolerance, Many Sikhs and Hindus Leave Afghanistan” (Wall Street Journal)
(Image Credit: via Anadolu Agency)
Taliban destroys popular women’s broadcasting station during Kunduz battle
- Roshani, a women-run radio and television station in Kunduz, was burned to the ground by Taliban fighters as they took the city of Kunduz from Afghan and U.S. forces.
- Roshani had begun its television broadcasting only two months earlier, offering women-focused sports, entertainment, and cultural programming.
- In addition to broadcasting, Roshani station director Sediqa Sherzai had been in the final stages of preparing to launch a production training program for women focused on video recording and editing.
“The Taliban erased many years of our efforts to build women’s media in Kunduz. … When things get back to normal in the city, we have to start all over again from zero.”
“Taliban Flips The Switch On Women’s Radio, TV In Kunduz” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
“Taliban target media during Kunduz takeover” (Reporters Without Borders)
(Image Credit: via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Afghan police investigate gas poisoning at girls’ school in Herat province
- More than 100 girls were taken to the hospital in Herat province for toxic gas poisoning at their school in the village of Enjil.
- While police investigate whether the incident was intentional, politicians suspect it was the work of conservative factions who oppose education for girls in the country.
- Most of the girls were discharged the same day as their hospitalization.
Read the full story at Reuters.