Why Is the Taliban Asking Herat’s Teachers About Their Religion?

Published November 17th, 2021 - 08:37 GMT
Afghan girls attend a class in a school in Kandahar
Afghan girls attend a class in a school in Kandahar on September 26, 2021. (Photo by BULENT KILIC / AFP)

Only weeks after schools in Afghanistan were reopened for the first time since the Taliban took control of the country last August, teachers in the eastern city of Herat are reporting a new practice by the new government.

Bordering Iran, Herat is Afghanistan's third-largest city and is mostly populated by Muslims. However, Afghan teachers in the city have been reporting a request made by the Taliban, requiring all teachers to state their religious affiliation.

Locals in Herat believe that the question aims at seeking out the city's Shiite minority, which could reach up to 15% according to American estimates prior to Afghanistan's fall in the hands of the Taliban in August 2021.

Online, many Afghans shared the news warning that this move by the Taliban might be one step closer to replacing Shiite Afghan teachers with Sunni ones, considering that the Sunni Taliban's hostility to Shiites might be back.

During the 1990s reign of the Taliban in Afghanistan, people from the Shiite sect reported extreme violations by the militant group, against them, most of whom are Hazaras. They had already faced racial discrimination for decades by other racial groups in Afghanistan.

Last month, an investigation by Amnesty International accused the Taliban of unlawfully killing 13 Hazaras in Afghanistan's Daykundi. The killings are believed to have taken place during August 2021, as the US was withdrawing its troops from the country.

Almost 120 Shia Afghans lost their lives in a series of explosions aimed at their mosques during Friday prayers throughout this year. The attacks have been linked to IS-K, while the Taliban's official stance was to condemn the attacks and pledging to restore security to the country.

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