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Shia Community in Afghanistan: Hazaras

The Hazara people are commonly defined as an ethno-linguistic group from central Afghanistan that is Persian-speaking and adherent of the Shia Islam or Ismaili sect of Islam which makes them a major part of the Shia Community in Afghanistan.

Population estimates range from 2.5 to 5 million, representing 9 to 18 percent of the population of Afghanistan. They are generally non-tribal and until the late 1980s did not have a cohesive political structure, instead being dominated by factionalism, with various elements of Shiism, the Shia clergy, traditional khans and the military class competing among themselves. Since then, the Hazaras have slowly emerged as a cultural and political force in Afghan national politics, particularly under the leadership of Abdul Ali Mazari, the first head of the Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan, or the Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan.

The Hazara are people of distinctions – set apart from fellow Afghans by religion, mixed ethnicity and an independent nature – and they have suffered for them since persecution has shaped and defined the Hazara, particularly over the last 200 years. They face discrimination as a part of the Shia community in Afghanistan, a minority among Afghanistan’s dominant Sunni Muslims, as well as for ethnic bias.

Since the fall of the monarchy in the 1970s and particularly in the post-Taliban period since 2001, the Hazaras as a group have been in slow but steady ascendance in Afghan society. While they remain a vulnerable and often marginalized minority, their political representation, levels of education and economic position have generally improved. They now represent a major proportion of the population of Kabul — perhaps 40 percent — and have a growing consciousness of ethnic pride and solidarity, whereas in the past many among them were inclined to strategically deny their ethnicity or religion to avoid discrimination.

A major figure whose works have played an important role in both Shia community in Afghanistan and also all over the world was Mohaqiq Kabuli who was a member of Hazaras as well.

Taken from “Afghanistan – Researched and compiled by the Refugee Documentation Centre of Ireland on 22 January 2014″




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