Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Security Alert During Muharram

In light of Muharram processions, more security personnel need to be deployed in Kabul city. Given the reality of attacks on processions in the past, and the sheer number of targeted attacks on mourners and members of the Shia community, it is understandable why security would be heightened this month. Despite the greater security, there have been many attacks that undermine the relative peace in the country. On Independence Day, barrages of mortar shells were fired in Kabul, the capital. A series of magnetic bombs went off in the city in recent days.
With the emergence of the IS group, sectarian violence was stoked in the country. From schoolchildren, athletes, patients, mourners, protestors, hundreds of Shias have been killed for their beliefs. Few years back, an Ashura procession in Sakhi Shrine, Kabul, became the target of explosion and attack. The IS group carried out attacks on educational center, cultural center, gym, mosques, hospital, and wedding hall in Kabul.
The IS group was widely involved in sectarian violence in the past few years and targeted Shia community wherever they could and claimed responsibility for the attacks and explosions. The attack on maternity hospital in Kabul, where women and newborns were killed and wounded, were of the one worst events that had ever happened filling the public with an outpouring of grief.
The Taliban group was also involved in sectarian violence during their regime. But they hardly continued killing people on the basis of their race and beliefs in their terrorist attacks. However, the IS affiliate is seeking to trigger sectarianism so that they could capitalize on people’s religious sentiment and carry out the radical ideology of the IS group.
Although the IS group was formally dismantled in the country, its affiliate is still able to carry out attacks in the capital.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have turned to smaller-scale operations recently meant to show a presence deep inside the capital and wide around it. In short, both the Taliban and IS group are involved in carrying out attacks in Kabul, but the IS group is seeking to target ethnic minority groups, mainly Shia community.
In Muharram, a holy month for Shia community that mourns over the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussain, the IS group is hunting Shias and seeks to target mourning processions.
Government officials have warned against the insecurity saying that the possibility of attacks is high in Muharram. With this in mind, this is the government’s responsibility to tighten the security measures in Kabul city and ensure that Shia community is performing their religious rituals without casualties as all religious groups have the rights to practice their religion as well as religious rituals freely based on the Afghan Constitution.
The government has to deploy more security personnel to ensure the safety of citizens, mainly in the current month of Muharram. It goes without saying that if an explosion happens during the mourning processions, the number of casualties will be much higher than any other times.
If security personnel do not prevent terrorist attacks in Muharram, the government will be criticized severely and there is also possibility for large demonstration.
Afghans are highly concerned about the terrorist activities of the IS group as well as spreading sectarianism. In other words, sectarian violence took heavy toll on Shia community as well as Sikh minority group. It is a great cause for concern that sectarianism will fuel ethnocentrism and target social solidarity in the country. The objective of the IS group is to sow the seeds of disunity and hatred in the country.
Although security measures are tightened in Kabul, political pundits have pointed out on social media that corruption within the government machinery is the main reason behind insecurity as officials neglect their duties.
So far, Muharram has caused unity between Shia and Sunni communities since the grandson of Prophet belongs to all Muslims. On Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, high-ranking officials, including President, participate in mourning sessions and analyze the tragic and revolutionary aspects of Muharram. In short, Muharram can bring people of different caste and creed together and pave the ground for the spirit of brotherhood. To this end, both Shias and Sunnis have to be cautious not to fall for the bogus claim of religious fundamentalists and maintain their unity.
Clerics and religious intellectuals have to enlighten the message of peace and brotherhood and talk against racial superiority and ethnocentric orientation.
In short, the government’s responsibility is to ensure peace and the clerics responsibility is to support the security personnel through their speeches and preach for national unity and social solidarity.