Code 222185
PublishDate: Thursday, April 1, 2021 16:13

Last Afghan Jew prepares to leave his homeland amid political uncertainty

Afghanistan’s last remaining Jew, Zablon Simintov, has decided to leave his homeland, citing concerns of the Taliban’s return to government as his primary reason.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_In an interview with , Siminto said he has lived apart from his wife and two daughters for more than two decades.

The 61-year-old said: “After our important festivals [Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in September], I will leave Afghanistan.”

He told Radio Free Afghanistan: “If you decide to leave then it is difficult to stay,” adding “if the Taliban return, they are going to push us out with a slap in the face.”

He said his increasing worries over the past two years have convinced him to leave.

According to Radio Free Afghanistan, Simintov, whose wife and daughters live in Israel, used to say it was God’s will that he lived in Afghanistan. But he said he has worried about his future since Washington began negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban in 2018.

“Peace talks are making people worried that if the Taliban come and if they behave the same as they used to during their regime [in the 1990s] then people will be worried,” he told the BBC in 2019.

Simintov is not the only one leaving his homeland, which in the mid-20th century boasted a 40,000-strong Jewish community.

Raja Ram, an Afghan Sikh, told Radio Free Afghanistan he is staying behind to look after the Hindu temple in Ghazni.

Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh minority has shrunk from more than 200,000 in the 1980s to a few hundred families today. Most members of Afghanistan’s tiny Hindu and Sikh minority have already left while others plan to join exiled members of their community in India.

A string of attacks against the community has seen a steady exodus of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus over the past three years.

’s_religious minorities claim the face discrimination despite the country’s current constitution guaranteeing protections against discrimination.

However, Afghan clerics and Islamic scholars insist that discrimination against non-Muslims has no place in Islam.

“If religious minorities live in an Islamic country, its government is obliged to protect them,” Mufti Bilal Ahmed Safir, a religious scholar in Kabul, told Radio Free Afghanistan.

“Their lives and properties should be protected, and they should be granted all the rights given by Allah.”

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