The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers
The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.
While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.
Continue reading Global Event: The Afghanistan Exodus
Internet blockages and hunger strike mark continuing conflict between Indian farmers and government
- Tensions between farmers and the government have continued as encampments of tens of thousands, tractor parades, clashes with police, and a recently organized hunger strike have unfolded across the country, from New Delhi to Ghazipur.
- The interior ministry announced that internet services on the outskirts of New Delhi had been temporarily suspended as protesting farmers continued to flock to the capital from around the country.
- After a Sikh protester unfurled a religious flag during Republic Day clashes, pro-government media seized on the spectacle to deride the protests, and anti-Sikh sentiment has begun to disrupt—at least in part—popular support for the protesters.
- Since November, the farmers’ movement has been protesting economic reforms that they argue benefit large agribusiness firms and private buyers over smaller producers, endangering their already precarious livelihoods.
“Farmers protest: Here are the top developments of the day” (The Indian Express | January 2021)
“Indian farmers begin hunger strike amid fury against Modi” (The Associated Press | January 2021)
“In Delhi, public support for protesting farmers is giving way to anti-Sikh prejudice” (Scroll.in | January 2021)
“Farm bills: Are India’s new reforms a ‘death warrant’ for farmers?” (BBC News | September 2020)
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)
Facebook announces ban on white-nationalist content
- The world’s most widely used social media company announced a ban on “praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism,” to be enforced beginning next week.
- Users who search for terms related to white supremacy, nationalism, and separatism will be redirected to Life After Hate, an organization that supports the de-radicalization of members of far-right hate groups.
- Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have come under fire for enabling the spread of hate content and the development of extremist networks.
Standing Against Hate (Facebook Newsroom | March 2019)
“Facebook bans white nationalism, white separatism on its platforms” (Reuters | March 2019)
“Facebook bans white nationalism from platform after pressure from civil rights groups” (NBC News | March 2019)
Life After Hate
Suicide bombing targets Sikhs in Jalalabad, leaving more than a dozen dead and 20 wounded
- The attack targeted a vehicle traveling through the Mukhaberat district, with at least 10 of the dead members of the Sikh community.
- The vehicle’s occupants had been traveling to meet with President Ashraf Ghani, who was on tour in Jalalabad and had recently attended the inauguration a new hospital.
- Sikhs account for less than 1% of the Afghan population, their numbers having been drastically reduced in the last few decades as a result of death and displacement from war and institutionalized oppression and neglect.
“Suicide Attack Targets Sikhs in Jalalabad, 19 Killed” (TOLOnews | July 2018)
“Deadly blast hits eastern Afghan city, targeting Sikh minority” (Reuters | July 2018)
“The decline of Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh communities” (Al Jazeera | January 2017)
U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
- 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
- 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
- The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
“Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)
“The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)
“Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)
Assailants face hate crime charges following attack on Sikh man in California
- The attackers had thrown beer cans at Maan Singh Khalsa‘s car in Richmond, California, and then physically attacked him, including knocking off his turban, forcing his head down, and cutting more than 10 inches of his hair.
- Unshorn hair is a religious mandate for observant Sikhs, and the specific targeting of his hair led to the hate crime designation.
- The attack follows years of similar targeting of Sikhs in the U.S., with many mistaken for Muslims and subject to violence because of their religious wear.
“2 Face Hate Crime Charges in Attack on Sikh Man in California” (The New York Times)
“Two men charged with hate crime in attack on Sikh in California” (Reuters)
“Sikhs under attack” (CNN)
(Image Credit: The Sikh Coalition, via The New York Times)
PM Trudeau forms most diverse government in Canadian history
- Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trudeau has created a gender-equal 30-member cabinet “because it’s 2015,” as he bluntly stated at a press conference unveiling his new government.
- The cabinet also includes the country’s first Muslim minister, two indigenous ministers, three Sikhs, and two ministers with disabilities.
- Trudeau’s cabinet is also relatively youthful, with most ministers under the age of 50, reflecting Trudeau’s commitment to generational change.
“A Canadian Cabinet for 2015” (The Atlantic)
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils diverse cabinet in touching ceremony” (The Star)
“Trudeau gives Canada first cabinet with equal number of men and women” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Chris Wattle/Reuters, via the Atlantic)
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)
India plans to amend law to grant citizenship to migrants seeking asylum from religious persecution
- The Home Ministry is expected to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to religious minorities who fled persecution in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- Immigrants who arrived before the start of 2015 will be eligible for citizenship through either a 7-year residency or 12-year naturalization process.
- Legislators are also looking to amend visa laws to allow undocumented religious asylum-seekers to remain in the country while their citizenship applications are processed.
Read the full story at The Hindu.
(Image Credit: AP file photo, via The Hindu)
Dubai’s Religious Minorities
Though strict in terms of public expression, Dubai has allowed rich, diverse communities to develop behind the walls of churches, temples, and other non-Muslim houses of worship. The BBC examines the growth of Dubai’s minority religious communities–including various Christian sects, Hindus, and Sikhs–and the extent of the freedoms they enjoy in the rapidly modernizing city.
Read the full feature at the BBC.
(Image Credit: BBC)
Canada’s transportation security agency amends controversial policy on headgear following outcry from the Sikh community
- The change rolls back the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency’s April implementation of a new policy that targeted religious headgear for mandatory additional screening at airports.
- Because travelers wearing non-religious headgear were not subject to the same protocol because the headgear could be removed, the World Sikh Organization released a statement condemning the de facto discriminatory policy on behalf of Sikhs who had identified themselves as targets.
- The organization met with CATSA, who admitted the policy had been established by the government’s transportation department without consulting faith groups.
“I am being considered a security threat every time I travel for work, even (though) I’m a NEXUS cardholder. CATSA’s policy goes above and beyond what the Transportation Security Administration does in the U.S., and I believe it’s targeting religious minorities such as turbaned Sikhs.”
Read the full story at thestar.com.
(Image Credit: Nicholas Keung/Toronto Star)
Visualizing the European migration surge, Arab atheism, Tokyo Pride, and more in today’s Rounds… Continue reading The Sunday Rounds