Taliban impose ‘severe’ limits on religious freedom for Afghans – US panel


Afghans pray at a main market in Kabul, October 30, 2009. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos (AFGHANISTAN POLITICS SOCIETY)

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WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) – Religious freedom conditions in Afghanistan have “significantly deteriorated” since the Taliban seized power last year, as the last U.S.-led foreign troops withdrew after 20 years of war, a bipartisan US commission said on Tuesday.

The “brutal application” by Sunni Muslim extremists of their radical version of Islam “violates the freedom of religion or belief” of a wide range of Afghans, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has said.

The congressional panel released its report nine days after the Taliban marked a year since they invaded Kabul, returning to power nearly two decades after they were ousted by the US-led invasion in 2001 .

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The report notes that the Taliban are committed to protecting all ethnic and religious groups.

Yet, he says, “conditions for religious freedom in Afghanistan have deteriorated significantly,” with activists reintroducing “severe restrictions on all Afghans” based on their radical interpretation of Islam.

Those negatively affected include religious minorities, Afghans “with different interpretations of Islam”, women, the LGBTQ community and those who follow no religion, according to the report.

The Taliban, according to the report, are responsible for the deaths of dozens of Hazaras, an ethnic minority who follow Shia Islam, and have failed to protect them from attacks by the regional branch of the Islamic State, a rival of the Taliban.

They re-established a ministry that includes morality police who have targeted women by enforcing a strict dress and behavior code, including face coverings, and limiting their movement, education, participation in sports and right to health. work, he added.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State have targeted Sufis, practitioners of mystical Islam, he said.

‘The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has led to a rapid decline and near extinction of the already small Afghan Hindu and Sikh communities’ and activists deny ‘the existence of a Christian community’, which must worship underground , the report adds.

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Reporting by Jonathan Landay; edited by Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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