US Lawmakers Condemn Taliban Treatment Of Hindus

T.C. Malhotra | July 7, 2008 | 8:09pm EDT
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New Delhi ( - Wearing yellow badges with the words "I am a Hindu," several American lawmakers this week piloted a Congressional resolution condemning the recent anti-Hindu edicts of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The bipartisan resolution, moved by House minority leader Richard Gephardt, passed by a vote of 420-0. It slammed the Taliban action and demanded that the fundamentalist Islamic militia abide by international civil and human rights standards.

It said the proposal was "reminiscent of the yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied areas" during World War II.

"We cannot allow the Taliban to systematically repress Hindus in Afghanistan in such an eerily similar manner," said Tom Lantos, ranking Democrat in the House International Relations Committee.

The resolution urged Pakistan to use its influence with the Taliban "to get the order revoked."

Some Congressmen wore yellow badges on the floor of the House during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the tiny Hindu minority in Afghanistan.

They ridiculed the Taliban justification for its decree - that the badges were for the protection of the approximately 1,700 Hindus, who were not expected to adhere to follow the strict religious conduct required of the Muslim majority.

New York Democrat Gary Ackerman, who came up with the idea of wearing the badges, said it was a gesture to show Afghan Hindus in a small way that Congress was aware of the abuses being perpetrated against them.

He hoped that on the day the Taliban edict comes into force, every member of Congress would wear the yellow badges again. "On that particular day, we will all become Hindus, so that the minority Hindus in Afghanistan will have a source of strength," he said.

Lantos said he would aggressively pursue the matter when Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar visits next week for a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The Congress resolution also condemned the Taliban order that Hindu women be dressed from head to toe at all times. Violations of the Taliban laws are met with punishments ranging from assaults to whipping to stoning to death.

It castigated the Taliban regime for offending Buddhists and the world community at large by ordering the destructing recently of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.

There are signs the angry world reaction may be having some effect in Kabul. The Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported that the Taliban may modify the decree, instead giving Hindus identity cards which they would be required to show on demand by police.

Indian analyst Rahul Banerjee said in New Delhi on Friday that this was not the first that Hindus has been singled out for state-sponsored oppression in Afghanistan.

He noted a drastic drop in the Hindu population of that country over the past few years. Prior to 1992, Afghanistan had a population of more than 50,000 Hindus. Most fled due to anti-Hindu violence and now there are only a few of them left in the country, he said.
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