Taliban Quail to Provide Security for Shiites During the Muharram and Ask People to Take Security Responsibility
At the same time as Ashura is approaching, Muharram mourners in Kabul and provinces of the country are worried about the security of this religious ceremony. They say that this year’s ceremony will be held with fear.
Citizens are afraid that they will not be able to celebrate the mourning ceremony in a safe environment. These concerns have increased while the Taliban group has asked the residents themselves to take security measures and are unable to provide security for Shiite mosques in the month of Muharram. Therefore, the responsibility for the security measurements of mosques is delegated between the Taliban and Muharram mourners.
Muzaffar, the head of the office of one of the country’s Shia religious authorities, in a conversation with Hasht-e Subh, informs about the cooperation of the people with the Taliban officials. He says: “In the statements of the officials, it is also stated that they are not able to provide security alone and have asked the people to cooperate with the Taliban for providing security during the mourning eves and particularly on the 10th of the Muharram.”,
He expressed his hope that with the cooperation of both sides, the security of Muharram mourning will be provided well. Mr. Muzaffar adds: “In the numerous meetings held with the security officials, the security of the gates, inside the mosques and shelters is the responsibility of the mourners themselves, and they (the Taliban) provide security outside and around the shelters and have given assurances to the people.”
On the other hand, Mohammad Hossain Fayaz, religious scholar and researcher, talking to Hasht-e Subh newspaper, emphasizes that people are not able to provide security for mourning ceremonies with their bare hands and without weapons. He says, if the Taliban want the people to take over the security of the ceremony themselves, they need to provide weapons and facilities to the guards of the mosques.
At the same time, Mr. Fayaz clarifies that handing over the security of mosques and shelters to the people is a kind of “Taliban slander and mockery” of the people. He adds: “The Taliban must take the security of the Muharram ceremony seriously and decisively.” Whatever happens to the mourners, the Taliban will be responsible. If they do not provide security, they themselves will be questioned and it shows that they have shirked their responsibility.”
However, Muharram mourners express concerns about the security situation and possible attacks on mourners. Some of these mourners told Hasht-e Subh newspaper that people alone are not capable of providing security. According to them, providing security is not just taking a gun and it requires “information and intelligence” sources, which people do not have such a capacity and access to the information sources and Taliban do not share information with the public. These mourners add that due to the intensification of the activities of Takfiri groups in the country, especially the ISIS group, the Taliban should not put the security burden responsibility on the people, but should fulfill their obligations properly in coordination and cooperation with the people.
Reza Hossaini, a resident of Kabul, says that Muharram mourners were very excited and interested in observing the Muharram ceremony in previous years despite the security threats, but this year they are extremely worried. He says: “We are afraid that another Karbala will happen. We are very afraid, because nothing is in place.”
Fatema Akbari (pseudonym), a resident of Balkh, says that with the Taliban takeover of the country, deadly attacks on Shiite neighborhoods have increased, and observing the Muharram and Ashura ceremonies is one of her serious concerns. She adds: “Mosques, bus stations and even vans carrying Hazara and Shia people have been bombed. Some of our friends have been martyred in these attacks, and some of them are now hospitalized.” Ms. Akbari points out that despite the intensification of attacks, people are still eager to observe this religious ceremony more magnificently and rely on their own measures. According to her, there is no trust in the Taliban to provide the security of the ceremony honestly.
Reza Danesh, another resident of Mazar-e-Sharif, considers security for the Muharram mourning ceremony a serious challenge. According to him, in the past 20 years, providing security for religious ceremonies had been a serious challenge for the security forces of the previous government. He expressed hope that the Taliban, in cooperation and coordination with the people, would be able to provide a safe environment for observing the Ashura ceremony.
The shadow of fear and anxiety has ruled over the mental and emotional atmosphere of the people, as two days ago, the Taliban forbade the residents of Ghazni province of mourning the Muharram mourning ceremony on the roads and entrusted the security of this ceremony to the people. A number of Shiite representatives in Ghazni have shared their security concerns during the Muharram mourning days in a meeting with the local Taliban.
Sources, quoting the Taliban security commander for Ghazni, told Hasht-e Subh newspaper that the local Taliban have ordered the Shiites of this province to ensure the security of their mosques during these days, and no one has the right to go out on the roads.
While the Taliban have held the people responsible for providing security for their religious ceremonies, there have been several deadly attacks against Shia worshipers in different provinces of the country. In the first months of the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan, dozens of people were killed and hundreds were injured in attacks on worshipers and Shiite positions in the provinces of Kabul, Kunduz, Balkh and Kandahar. ISIS has taken responsibility for most of these attacks. In the early days of the Taliban’s rule over the country, this group launched a deadly attack on the Kabul airport during the evacuation period, in which more than 200 people were killed and injured. Now, due to the intensification of ISIS attacks on Shiite neighborhoods in Afghanistan, people are worried that another bloody incident during the Muharram ceremony this year.