Taliban Defends Plan for Labeling Non-Muslims

In recent days, international leaders have denounced the Taliban’s decision to require the country’s Hindus and other non-Muslims to wear yellow identity badges.

But Taliban leaders rebuffed international characterizations of the plan as discriminatory toward the country’s Hindu population, which has dwindled from 50,000 in the 1970s to a few hundred.

The hard-line Islamic group said the new rules will protect religious minorities in Afghanistan.

“The move is not meant to harm or humiliate Hindus,” said Mohammed Wali, the Taliban’s Minister for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice on Taliban-controlled radio. “It is for their own safety and to protect them” from religious police enforcing Islamic law, he said.

The Taliban claims the new rule will prevent Hindus from being stopped by religious police and will mean Muslims can’t claim to be Hindu if they’re caught violating religious laws.

Hindu men will be required to wear a yellow cloth pinned to their shirt pockets, while women will have to don a head-to-toe garment worn by Muslim women.

Another non-Muslim minority, the Sikhs, will not have to abide by the new dress code because their distinctive turbans and beards already distinguish them from Muslims.

An international outcry

The decision, which some see as reminiscent of Nazi-era policies against Jews in Europe, has prompted an international outcry in the U.S., India, Nepal and Germany — as well as condemnation from several human rights organizations.

“We believe such edicts have no place in civilized society,” a spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Taliban spokesmen fought back today, alleging a “policy of enmity and hatred against the government of Afghanistan.”

A Foreign Ministry statement read on Taliban-controlled radio said “It is unfortunate that some countries, for their selfish interests, are attacking” the Taliban for its decision.

Another statement said the government considered international reaction to the labeling plan “a policy of enmity and hatred against the government of Afghanistan.”