US Watchdog Asks State Department To List Afghanistan As “Worst Religious Freedom Violator”

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Monday said that religious freedom conditions in Afghanistan have sharply deteriorated in the eight months since withdrawal of foreign troops from the country and the Taliban swept to power.

The USCIRF recommended that the State Department categorize Afghanistan under the Taliban’s de-facto government as a “country worst religious freedom violator.”

In its annual report, the USCIRF said that the regime change has meant worsening conditions for religious liberty and significant deterioration of human rights overall.

“Religious minorities faced harassment, detention, and even death due to their faith or beliefs. The one known Jew and most Hindus and Sikhs fled the country,” the report added.

“We have received credible reports of the Taliban harassing religious minorities and desecrating their houses of worship, as well as going door to door looking for Christian converts,” USCIRF said. 

Afghanistan’s Hazara Shiites are considered apostates by the Islamic State’s (IS) Afghan branch, known as Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K), according to the report.

The USCIRF report comes as the Taliban continues to seek international recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The US and other world countries say they will not recognize the Taliban until the group respects the basic freedoms of women and religious minorities, forms an inclusive government, and let the girls go to schools.

USCIRF also has requested that the State Department redesignate the following nations as countries of particular concern, Myanmar, (referred to as Burma on the official list), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, India, Nigeria, Syria, Vietnam, and Turkmenistan.

USCIRF said is committed to addressing human rights violations perpetrated based on the coercive enforcement of interpretations of religion and has done so since it was created by Congress in 1998

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