Afghan Taliban Statement Opposes Equal Rights Or Share In Power For Non-Muslim Religious Minorities In Afghanistan

June 8, 2021

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In a statement, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban organization) has opposed an announcement by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to designate a national day for religious minorities to further their democratic rights in the country.

The Taliban statement notes that religious minorities such as Hindus and Sikhs were better protected from 1996-2001 under the Islamic Emirate government than they have been under the democratic governments that assumed power after 2001. It stresses that the rights of religious minorities are better protected under an Islamic system.

This argument by the Taliban, that Islam protects the life and property of religious minorities, is indeed correct, but it is hugely problematic because it presupposes that Islam must govern in order to protect non-Muslim religious communities. This interpretation fails to imagine a situation in which non-Muslims could be part of an Islamic government.

Under Islamic shari'a, non-Muslims are deemed dhimmis – i.e., second-class non-citizens who must pay jizya (i.e., a tax on non-Muslims), in order to be protected by an Islamic government. So, dhimmis cannot have a share in power if the argument forwarded by the Taliban is accepted.

Whereas, in an elected democratic government such as the one headed by President Ashraf Ghani, all Afghans – Muslim or not – are equal citizens with equal rights and share in power. The Islamic Emirate, which seeks to install an Islamic system, sees democracy as counter to shari'a-based religious rule and therefore opposes equal rights or share in power for religious minorities.

Following is the text of the Islamic Emirate's statement:

"Religious Minorities... Have Complete Rights In An Islamic System Under The 'Ahl Ad-Dhimma' Category With Guaranteed Safety Of Life And Property"

"The head of Kabul administration [Afghan President Ashraf Ghani] recently announced that he would dedicate a specific day in the national calendar for Sikhs and Hindus in order to observe the rights of religious minorities in Afghanistan, and shall also inaugurate a department for research on religious minorities in the Academy of Sciences [of Afghanistan, or ASA].

"Ashraf Ghani has taken to this sloganeering and theatrical step as religious minorities have suffered the worst blow in the history of Afghanistan during his own tenure [since September 29, 2014]. Religious minorities that have complete rights in an Islamic system under the 'Ahl ad-Dhimma' category with guaranteed safety of life and property, spent a peaceful and confident life prior to the invasion [that overthrew the Taliban government in 2001]. But not only were their lands, businesses, and homes usurped during the recent two-decade occupation, but they were also systematically forced to leave the country.

"According to a survey, Afghanistan hosted fifteen thousand Sikhs and Hindus during the [1996-2001] reign of the Islamic Emirate, but following the American invasion and during the 13-year term of Hamid Karzai [from 2001 to 2014], most Sikhs and Hindus were forced to leave the country as the numbers dwindled to two thousand until the term of Ashraf Ghani [began in 2014]. The remaining two thousand in the time of Ashraf Ghani also faced systematic genocide and were forced to leave the country with only a few dozen Hindus and Sikhs currently remaining in Afghanistan.

"The above statistics prove that it is not only the believing Afghans who have suffered tremendously at the hands of the corrupt regime imposed by the occupiers, rather the religious minorities of the country have also been hammered such that has never been witnessed earlier."

"It Is Only An Islamic System That Can Guarantee And Protect The Rights Of All Citizens, Where None Can Transgress Against The Life, Wealth, And Honor Of Another"

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in commitment to the supreme laws of Islam, considers protecting the rights of Ahl ad-Dhimma a religious obligation and fundamental responsibility. That is why people associated with religious minorities continue to live a life of dignity and assurance in areas under the control of the Islamic Emirate [during 1996-2001].

"The reason why the Islamic Emirate insists upon the establishment of an Islamic system and enforcement of Koranic laws is because it is only an Islamic system that can guarantee and protect the rights of all citizens, where none can transgress against the life, wealth, and honor of another, and where even the followers of other religions are provided a secure life unparalleled in any other law of the world.

"Our nation must not be misled by the theatrics of the stooge regime but must judge its actions. Just as the difference between the rhetoric and actions of Ashraf Ghani about minority rights is that of day and night, all his slogans are also hollow and aimed at bamboozling the people.

"The religious minorities of Afghanistan are not in need of having a day in their name in the national calendar; rather they are in the need of security so that they are not murdered in mysterious attacks by the national security [agencies], and they are in need of protection of their places of worship from being expropriated by the advisors and MPs of Ashraf Ghani."

Source: (Afghanistan), May 27, 2021. The original English of the statement has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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