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In an Effort to Create a Monolithic Sunni Afghanistan, the Taliban Removes Shia Textbooks from Bamyan Schools

VANCOUVER, CANADA –The Taliban’s Directorate of Education in Bamyan, a province in the central highlands of Afghanistan has issued a directive to all schools to collect and remove Jafari jurisprudence religious books from their curricula.

In a letter obtained by KabulNow, the Directorate instructed schools where “textbooks are currently from one sect,” to collect them by the end of this week on Thursday, June 6. Under the previous government where Shia jurisprudence was recognized in the constitution, provinces where the majority of the population were Shias had their school textbooks according to their own jurisprudence.

The Taliban letter says new educational material will be prepared, but sources we spoke to say it is an effort by the ultra-conservative Sunni regime to rid the school curriculum from Shia religious teaching.

KbaulNow Exclusive; The Taliban’s Directorate of Education in Bamyan directive

Late last year, the Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education instructed all private universities and educational institutions to clear their libraries of books “contrary to Hanafi jurisprudence.” The directive issued in late 2023 also instructed education institutions to clear their libraries of political books and any material that would “create ideological problems.”

The letter also specified that the books should be replaced with “other good books on the biography of the Prophet,” and the list of these books should be shared with the Ministry of Higher Education in advance for approval.

Many observers and community leaders see the Taliban’s actions in Bamyan as a continuous campaign to suppress the socio-cultural diversity of Afghanistan in an effort to create a monolithic society in their own image: conservative, Sunni, and extremist.

Very early on after their resumption of power in Afghanistan, the Taliban regime banned the teaching of Jafari Shia jurisprudence at Bamyan University, the one university in a Shia-majority province.

Later, Neda Mohammad Nadim, the acting Minister of Higher Education for the Taliban, stated at the Said Jamaluddin Afghan University in the eastern Kunar province that there are “no sects” in Afghanistan and that all the people in the country follow Hanafi jurisprudence.

Afghanistan has been stuck in a repetitive cycle of violence and conflict after one regime after another has tried under various names and ideologies to rid the society of its ancient, and historically diverse and tolerant sociopolitical character.