Afghanistan’s Only Known Jewish Citizen: Peace Talks Must Protect Minorities

Abdullah Abdullah (C), Chairman of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, speaks the opening session of the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha on September 12, 2020. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)
KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

The only known Jewish citizen in Afghanistan says that the country’s future political system “should ensure the protection of all minorities in the country and their humanitarian rights,” Afghanistan’s TOLO News reported on Thursday.

Zablon Simintov’s remarks come as U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which began on Monday, continue in Doha, Qatar. In February, the U.S. said it would begin a phased withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan if the two sides agreed to peace talks following a prisoner swap. The Taliban refuses to consider the Afghan government’s rule over the country as legitimate. Considering itself the true ruler of Afghanistan, the jihadi terror group continues to carry out regular attacks on Afghan security forces.

Simintov, believed to be the only Jewish Afghan who has not left Afghanistan, says he believes that maintaining the country’s current political system is “a proper way to ensure the protection of the gains the country has made over the years.”

He urged the country’s peace negotiators in Doha to prioritize a ceasefire for the country, which endured another Taliban attack this week even after the peace talks commenced.

“We [Afghans] are thirsting for peace, but first we want a ceasefire,” Simintov said.

On Wednesday night, the Taliban attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government forces across three districts in eastern Nangarhar province.

“At least 11 Afghan security personnel were killed in fighting in Hesarak, while eight pro-government fighters were killed in Khogyani district,” Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday. Roughly 30 Taliban fighters died in the clashes, he added.

A number of Sikh and Hindu citizens of Afghanistan also commented this week on the current state of the country amid the backdrop of the peace talks, telling TOLO that they hope the talks lead to “reconstruction and prosperity” for the country.

“The outcomes of the talks should help those who left the country to repatriate to their homeland,” Soni Singh, an Afghan Sikh living in Kabul, said.

Religious minorities in majority-Muslim Afghanistan face persecution and threats of violence. In late July, India welcomed 11 members of Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu minority communities fleeing hostility in Afghanistan. One of the Sikhs had recently been released from captivity “after a month of torture” at the hands of Islamic terrorists. The religious refugees sought Indian citizenship under India’s religious persecution law.


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