Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new report:
Afghanistan Factsheet – This report catalogues deteriorating religious freedom conditions in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country on August 15, 2021. Afghans who do not adhere to the Taliban’s harsh and strict interpretation of Islam, as well as those who follow other faiths or beliefs, face grave threats in the current environment—despite initial statements from the Taliban that it had reformed some elements of its ideology. In September 2021, the Taliban reinstated the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which uses a notoriously violent hardline Islamist policing system. USCIRF has documented and received credible reports of violence including executions, disappearances, evictions, desecration of houses of worship, beatings, harassment, and threats of violence to members of particularly vulnerable religious communities.
Before the takeover, USCIRF recommended in its 2021 Annual Report that the U.S. Department of State re-designate the Taliban as an Entity of Particular Concern, or EPC, “for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.” The State Department has designated the Taliban as an EPC every year since its first set of EPC designations in 2018, and most recently in December 2020.
USCIRF has issued several press statements calling on the State Department to prioritize refugee resettlement of Afghan religious minorities and condemning attacks on religious minorities. USCIRF also featured a podcast episode on the plight of the Hazara Shi’a minority in Afghanistan. In June 2021, USCIRF hosted a webinar on the exodus of religious minority communities in Afghanistan and another in October 2021 on at-risk religious communities in Afghanistan.