A Hazara Success Story
by Charles Lemos, Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 06:40:08 AM EST
The Hazara, who are descendants of Mongol invaders in the 13th century, were once the largest ethnic group in the country. But the rise of a Pashtun state after 1727 saw the rise of a systemic persecution and marginalization of the Hazara who by then had become Shi'ites. In 1893, Pashtun tribesmen pushed the Hazara out of the southern portions into the dry high desert regions of the central part of the country including the Bamiyan valley, long considered the world's beautiful valley (here's a link to a New Zealand led development project in Bamiyan). Perhaps half of all Hazaris were killed in a genocide that was not atypical of the late 19th century. Moreover, many Hazara were enslaved. Though slavery was finally outlawed in 1929, the practice continued well into the 1950s.
In pre-Soviet Afghanistan, the Hazara remained marginalized and discriminated against. Those who migrated to the urban centers generally filled the most menial jobs. Today the Hazara make up about 20 percent of the population of Afghanistan. In Kabul they represent about a quarter of the population.
It is most unfortunate, frankly it's downright criminal, that the Hazara are being targeted by American evangelical missionaries (that's just one website I could point to, there are plenty more including this one that wants to send Bibles in Dari to Afghanistan) for conversion. Tribal peoples the world over really just want one thing - to be left alone so they can live their lives in peace.
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