Afghanistan’s Islamic Taliban rulers have announced plans to force Hindus to wear an identity label on their clothing to distinguish them from Muslims, according to recent news reports.
Non-Muslims make up a small minority of Afghanistan’s 25 million people and the Taliban has increased its control over all things religious since its takeover in the mid-1990s, the Washington Post reported.
Mohammed Wali, religious police minister, told Associated Press he was unsure what the badge, or label, would look like, or when the police would begin enforcing the new rule.
The law will also make it mandatory for Hindu women to veil themselves like the Muslim women do, Wali told AP. In addition, non-Muslims will no longer be allowed to live with Muslims, and they must follow the dictates of Islamic law or face punishment, according to the Post.
Hindu-dominated India has issued an angry response to the treatment of Afghan Hindus, and it has opened its border to minorities from Afghanistan who wish to escape the strict policies of the Taliban, Religion News Service reported.
“We absolutely deplore such orders,” Raminder Singh Jassal, chief spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry, told the Post. “This is further evidence of the backward and unacceptable ideological underpinnings of the Taliban and justifies the actions that the international community have [sic] taken in imposing sanctions against the Taliban.”
The Post reported that India’s Catholic Conference of Bishops also denounced the religious decree, saying it “goes against fundamental human rights and must be opposed by all those who believe in protection of human rights and dignity.”
Islam supporters in neighboring Pakistan are calling the move by the Taliban an effort to protect minority religious groups from the strict regulations imposed on Afghanistan’s Muslim population. They argue that by distinguishing Hindus from Muslims, religious police will know which Muslims are not following the Islamic teachings.
The Taliban follow a harsh version of Islam that bars women from most jobs, education and requires they be veiled from head to foot in order to leave their homes. All men must wear long beards and pray in mosques five times a day. Also, all forms of light entertainment, including television and music, are outlawed, according to AP.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.