Date: October 15, 2021
Reiterates Call for State Department to Include Afghan Religious Minorities in U.S. Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today condemned in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attacks on the Imam Barga Mosque in Kandahar today and Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque in Kunduz last Friday. USCIRF urges the Biden administration to expand its Priority 2 (P-2) designation granting U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) access for certain Afghan nationals and their family members to include members of religious groups at extreme risk of persecution.
“Not one, but two Shi’a mosques in Afghanistan have been targeted and their peaceful worshippers killed during weekly Jumu'ah prayer services on two successive Fridays. USCIRF is deeply concerned for the Afghan religious minorities at-risk in their own country,” USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza stated. “In the two months since the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan, conditions for religious communities have worsened quickly. It is urgent that the U.S. Department of State expands its P-2 designation to explicitly include Afghan religious minorities, in recognition of the severe risks and deadly attacks they are facing.”
The Taliban’s imposition of its harsh and strict interpretation of Islam poses a grave threat to all Afghans of differing interpretations and other faiths or beliefs. Since taking control of the country on August 15, 2021, the Taliban and rival extremist groups such as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) have intimidated, threatened, and targeted religious minority communities. The already small Afghan Hindu and Sikh communities are nearly extinct, and the last Jew in Afghanistan fled the country in September. Hazara Shi’a Muslims, Christians, Ahmadis, and Baha’is face dire consequences at the hands of the Taliban and ISIS-K, which claimed responsibility on the Gozar-e-Sayed Abad Mosque attack in Kunduz Province.
“We express our deepest condolences to the victims of this horrific act of violence, their families, and all within the Shi’a communities in Kandahar and Kunduz. The terrorist attacks are all the more heinous because it targeted houses of worship during Jumu’ah or Friday congregational prayer, a weekly observance practiced faithfully by Muslims,” USCIRF Commissioner Frederick A. Davie added. “At this time of sadness as we mourn the senseless loss of life, we urge the U.S. government to include Afghan religious minorities in their resettlement efforts. Everyone should have the freedom to worship without fear of putting one’s life at risk.”
Last week, USCIRF hosted a virtual event highlighting religious communities at extreme risk of persecution in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control. In, September, USCIRF produced a spotlight on the threat to the Hazara Shi’a community in Afghanistan
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at