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The Silent Genocide of the Hazara and Shi’a Muslims

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AsiaCurrent

The Silent Genocide of the Hazara and Shi’a Muslims

The Taliban entered the city and drove through the streets for two days, shooting everything and everyone that moved, including women and children. They forbade the burial of the corpses for weeks, against the laws of the religion they claimed to follow, and allowed the remains to rot and be eaten by dogs in the street.

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The Taliban entered the city and drove through the streets for two days, shooting everything and everyone that moved, including women and children. They forbade the burial of the corpses for weeks, against the laws of the religion they claimed to follow, and allowed the remains to rot and be eaten by dogs in the street.

Last week the world watched on silently, as once again the Hazara Shi’a community of Kabul, Afghanistan was targeted in a terrorist attack. Gunmen stormed the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital, passing a number of other wards until they reached their deliberate target: the maternity ward.

While some mothers escaped, others were not so lucky. At least 11 mothers were killed, as well as two newborn baby boys, and midwives and nurses that eventually brought the total up to 24 killed in total. The stories that have emerged from the aftermath of the attack have been nothing short of horrifying.

Nazia and her mother had gone to the hospital, where she gave birth to a baby girl, Amina on the day of the fateful attack. At just 3 hours old, Amina was shot in the legs, and her mother was brutally killed.

One baby was born during the hours of the attack. The mother and midwife sheltered in a safe room, trying to keep silent while giving birth.

“We helped her with our bare hands, we had nothing else in the room except some toilet paper and our scarves. When the baby was born, we cut the umbilical cord using our hands. We used our headscarves to wrap the baby and the mother,” explained one midwife.

The attack, happening in a neighborhood that is home to the majority of Kabul’s Hazara community, a Shi’a ethnic minority group, only highlighted the ongoing and relentless attack against both the Hazara and the Shi’a community at large by extremists like the Taliban and ISIL. But who are the Hazara, and why have they been so relentlessly attacked throughout history?

A History of Genocide

With large numbers in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran), the Hazara community is widely regarded as the most oppressed group in Afghanistan. Comprising mostly of Shi’a Muslims, they are often targeted for their religion by terrorists with warped beliefs.

In the late 19th century, Abdur Rahman Khan, the Emir of Afghanistan, ruthlessly oppressed the Hazara community. Thousands of men, women, and children were sold as slaves in the markets of Kabul. It is estimated that 60% of their population was slaughtered in the genocide, with their lands confiscated, and more forced out of their homeland of Hazarajat.

At one point the largest ethnicity in Afghanistan, Khan’s vicious campaign ensured they were driven to a minority, and turned their supporters against them by spreading sectarian strife.

The persecution of Hazaras continued through the years, leading to another genocidal massacre in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, in which Shi’a Hazaras were once again targeted, with up to 2,000 slaughtered by the Taliban.

The Aftermath of the 8th of August, 1998

The Taliban entered the city and drove through the streets for two days, shooting everything and everyone that moved, including women and children. They forbade the burial of the corpses for weeks, against the laws of the religion they claimed to follow, and allowed the remains to rot and be eaten by dogs in the street. They went door to door, murdering any males they deemed combat age in front of their families. They suffocated victims, dumping them in piles in the desert.

Terrorist attacks to this day target the Shi’a and Hazara communities across the region. This is spread by the hateful ideology spouted by many across the globe, condemning Shi’a Muslims and their beliefs, labeling them ‘kafirs’ (disbelievers).

In extreme cases, their death is directly called for, but make no mistake, even when not specifically said, these statements and attacks on the Shi’a community lead to and directly cause these massacres and terrorist attacks of innocent people.

For what crime were these people killed? What crime did these mothers, newborns, and unborn babies commit? Is the hatred for Shi’a Muslims so great that these victims deserved what they got? To which religion do the terrorists belong? Perhaps they follow a different Prophet to the Muslims, for the Prophet of Islam (ص) would never condone this.

Why are we ignoring the persecution of the Hazaras?

When we talk about attacks against Shi’a and Hazara communities, do NOT ignore their oppression. By generically condemning this and other attacks as ‘Muslims’ being killed, or ‘Afghans’ being slaughtered, we are silencing the plight of the oppressed. By taking an ‘all lives matter’ approach we purposefully and sinisterly turn a blind eye to why they were killed. For what reason did they die? If we want this to ever truly come to an end, we must speak out directly against the ideology that espouses this hatred. Do not silence the oppressed.

We must stand in solidarity with the Hazara community, with our brothers and sisters.

We pray for the souls of the martyred, and we pray for the oppressed and persecuted people around the world. We pray their suffering is eased, and we pray their oppressors and killers face the justice of Allah (س), from which they can never escape.

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ اللَّهَ غَافِلًا عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ إِنَّمَا يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ تَشْخَصُ فِيهِ الْأَبْصَارُ

“And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare [in horror]” (Holy Qur’an 14:42).

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