Afghanistan’s Hazara minority have a proud lineage, supposedly dating back to Genghis Khan, but a recent piece from Ramin Mostaghim and Nabih Bulos in the LA Times claims that they are fleeing persecution in Afghanistan only to be sent to fight, and often die, in Syria by Iran.
Currently, Hazaras have face persecution as Shia Muslim minorities in a Sunni Muslim country. The Hazaras have equal rights under Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution, but they were sold as slaves as recently as the 19th century, Al Jazeera reports, and their continued fleeing of Afghanistan in large numbers testifies to their continued persecution.
The LA Times piece reports that Hazaras entering Iran are given a choice: Go to jail, face deportation, or fight in the Fatemiyoun Division — an all-Afghan Shiite militia that backs Assad and seems to take on some of the dirty work Iranians in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard don’t touch.
“Iranians see the Hazara as cannon fodder,” a Sheik from Qom, told the LA Times.
“If the Hazara are the Muslim Shiite brethren of Iranians, then why are they the least important people in the devastating civil war in Syria?”
But some Hazaras see the fight in Syria as noble, protecting fellow Shia Muslims from Sunni persecution by the likes of ISIS and other militias.
However, this foreign venture for the ethnic group may be having dire consequences at home. The LA Times suggests an ISIS-claimed bombing in at a Hazara protest in Kabul was retribution for the Fatemiyoun Division’s activities in Syria.
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