Sikh Community Declining

July 9, 2006

Source: Sikh Sangat News/Newsday

On July 9, 2006 Sikh Sangat News/Newsday reported, "Sado Singh and his family camp out in the desolate ruin of a huge Sikh temple, one of about 10 in Kabul that once hummed with prayer, schooling and festivals. Singh hopes the bulk of Afghan Sikhs, now exiled as refugees in India or the West, may return some day, but 'the conditions are very difficult and we don't know whether they will get better,' he said. Sikhs have lived in Afghanistan for centuries, with the majority originally migrating westwards to the central Asian country from India and what is now Pakistan. Under the Taliban, Sikh men were forced to wear yellow turbans and yellow salwar kameez [long tunic-like shirt and baggy trousers] while women were made to wear burqas. Sikh women who did not adhere to this stringent dress code were as susceptible to street beatings by Taliban police as other Afghan women. Thirty years of war, plus intolerance fueled by Islamic militant groups, has nearly eliminated Afghanistan's traditional religious minorities. As the United States and its allies try to build a modern, tolerant state to replace that of the Taliban, the few non-Muslim Afghans who remain voice only faint hopes of restoring their communities."