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Congressmen to wear 'I am a Hindu' badge
The Economic Times Online

SEVERAL influential US lawmakers will wear a yellow badge with the inscription "I am a Hindu" in solidarity with followers of the faith in Afghanistan on the day a recent anti-Hindu Taliban edict is enacted.

During a mark-up of a resolution by the powerful House International Relations Committee condemning the Taliban's edict, requiring Hindus to wear a yellow badge as a mark of identity, the lawmakers said the Taliban's despicable decree was analogous to the Nazi persecution of Jews.

The House resolution strongly condemns "the Taliban's use of Nazi tactics to force Hindus in Afghanistan to wear symbols identifying them as Hindu; joins with people of all faiths around the world in standing against the religious persecution by the Taliban regime."

It demands "that the Taliban regime immediately revoke its order stigmatizing Hindus and other non-Muslims in Afghanistan and conform its laws to all basic international, civil and human rights standards; and calls on the Government of Pakistan to use its influence with the Taliban regime to demand that the Taliban revoke the reprehensible policy of forcing Afghan Hindus and other non-Muslims to wear a yellow identity symbol."

Rep Gary Ackerman, New York Democrat, during the course of his remarks castigating the Taliban edict, held up a copy of the yellow star the Nazi generals of Adolf Hitler's regime had ordered the Jews in Denmark to wear in 1943, which said in Hebrew, "I am a Jew."

Ackerman, former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said the then king of Denmark had himself worn the yellow star in solidarity with the Jews and exhorted his people to do the same which torpedoed the Nazi army's efforts to identify Jews and haul them away.

Ackerman hoped on the day the Taliban's edict comes into force all members of the U.S. Congress would wear a yellow badge in solidarity with the Hindus in Afghanistan. "On that particular day, we will all become Hindus, so that the miniscule minority Hindus in Afghanistan will have a source of strength."

Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat, who is the ranking minority member on the committee, strongly endorsed Ackerman's remarks and pledged to wear an "I am a Hindu" badge if the Taliban decree came to pass, and vowed to support a campaign to convince all US lawmakers to do the same.

Lantos also said he would aggressively pursue Washington's concern over Pakistan's support for the Taliban when Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar visits here later this month and warn him that if such support was not ended Islamabad would have very few, if any, friends on Capitol Hill.

He said he would urge Sattar to make sure the Pakistani government put pressure on the Taliban and prevail on the latter to have this edict withdrawn immediately.

Rep. Eliot Engel, co-author of the resolution that has 74 co-sponsors and was approved unanimously by the committee and sent to the full House for a vote -said, this badge of identity "makes them (Afghan Hindus) even more vulnerable to police and mob violence."

He said he was particularly concerned "because this is not the first time the Taliban has singled out Afghan Hindus. (IANS)

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