In a controversial move eerily reminiscent of Nazi Germany, Taliban officials in Afghanistan recently proposed to require the non-Muslim population which consists mainly of Hindus to wear distinctive labels on their clothing. While the Taliban maintains that the law”s purpose would be to protect Hindus from the Taliban”s religious police, something far less noble lurks beneath this veneer of altruism.

The Taliban a militant Islamic fundamentalist group rose to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s and has since been denounced by numerous other governments, including those of nearly every other Islamic nation. Most Muslims do not support the Taliban”s extreme views and fear the group has given Muslims worldwide a bad name.

The Taliban prohibits Muslim women from going to school and requires Muslim men to grow beards, standards that are not imposed upon non-Muslims. Taliban leaders claim that Hindus should be readily identifiable for their own protection against prosecution for breaking any of these types of laws. They say that the since the religious police cannot always tell the difference between a clean-shaven Hindu who is within his rights and a clean-shaven Muslim who is breaking the law, Hindus could be unduly (and unintentionally) punished for breaking Muslim-only laws. They say that the Hindus have asked for protection. They say that their only concern is for the safety of the non-Muslim citizens.

But this reasoning flawed. First, the idea that one”s religion should dictate one”s legal rights is a tried and true recipe for disaster. The most prominent example of this is what happened during the holocaust what began as a series of small restrictions on the freedoms of Jewish people eventually became a massive operation of genocide. And one of the first measures enforced by the Nazis was the requirement that Jewish people wear the Star of David on their clothing.

Secondly, the Hindu community has made it abundantly clear that they do not desire this type of “protection” from the Taliban. Hindus in neighboring India have been angrily protesting in response. Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raminder Singh Jassal told the New York Times that they “absolutely deplore such orders, which patently discriminate against minorities.” Afghani Hindus have also questioned the proposed law, with many saying that the Taliban”s religious police have never given them any trouble.

Neither the Taliban nor any other government should be passing laws that apply to one religious group and not to another this creates barriers between people where there were none and strengthens barriers between people where they already existed. Forcing Hindus to wear labels on their clothing will only stigmatize and separate them from the rest of the population. Once this process begins, there is no telling where it will end. What”s next? Will the Taliban force Hindus into ghettos to “protect” them from potentially hostile neighbors? Will they find hack “scientists” to proclaim that Hindus are genetically inferior? Will they ultimately decide they”re better off without Hindus at all?

Many may say that these questions are unreasonable. Naturally, many may say, it would never get to that point. But no one ever thought that a small, yellow Star of David worn in public would lead to the systematic elimination of millions of people. If they had, maybe it wouldn”t have gotten to that point.

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