International religious freedom advocates are sounding the alarm that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan could place Christians and other religious minorities at risk of being targeted by extremists and is calling on leaders to ensure stipulations are made to protect these vulnerable communities during peace agreements with the Taliban.
“The withdrawal will make these vulnerable communities even more vulnerable. It’s as simple as that,” Michael Kugelman recently warned during a conference held by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Kugelman, CBN News notes, is the Deputy Director of the Asia Program and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center.
Islamic extremism has been regaining strength as of late, with the U.S. withdrawal compounding a situation which has left religious minorities ” under fairly serious attack by extremist groups especially by ISIS K and the Taliban,” as USCIRF Commissioner Fred Davie told CBN News.
The Sikh population is near-extinction, going from 250,000 in the 1990s to just 200 today.
“It’s devastating. And the houses of worship – the gurdwaras of the Sikh community are constantly destroyed, religious services are attacked,” Davie explained.
“Women and girls are regularly traumatized, young girls have no education, and many worry about their future prospects,” said Dr. Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, a senior lecturer in Sikh Studies at the University of Birmingham in England.
In May, 50 people, mostly young women, were killed in a school bombing that targeted the minority Shiite community in Kabul, where such bombings have become a frequent occurrence in the capital city.
“When the Taliban talks about Islamization of the country, people need to understand the danger to minorities,” said Dr. Jhutti-Johal told the USCIRF panel.
The USCIRF is recommending that Afghanistan be added to the US State Department’s Special Watch List.
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