Sikhs “vanishing” under Afghan intolerance

Sikhs “vanishing” under Afghan intolerance

February 2, 2012 : The few religious minorities that remain in Afghanistan do so at considerable risk. The Kalash, an ethnic and religious minority, have found that they are discriminated against, and persecuted. Some have complained that they are “treated like animals,” because they are not Muslims. The Hindustan Times reports that the situation is little different for the few seeks that remain in the country.

Afghanistan was once a Buddhist country, although Buddhists were driven out by Muslim armies in the ninth century, and pursued across parts of India and into Tibet. After this, Afghanistan was essentially a Muslim nation.

Sikhs had also once prospered in Afghanistan. However, as the Hindustan Times reports, “in recent decades, as the country has become more religiously conservative, they have been harassed and disparaged as statue-worshipping infidels.”

They have moved en masse to India and other countries, and community leaders say there are now no more than a few hundred or at best a few thousand Sikhs left in Afghanistan.

Life for Sikhs there has become especially hard in recent years according to community leader Awtar Singh, a former lawmaker. Thousands had their property stolen during the civil wars of the 1990s. Job pro-spects are bleak outside of Sikh enclaves. And the¬government refuses to let Sikhs open cremation facilities, barring them from following an important religious tradition.

“The living conditions are getting hard for Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan,” said Awtar Singh, who is not related to the detainee. “The remaining people who can afford to do so want to go to India,” he added.


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