Afghan militants continue to murder Muslims inside mosques



A relative weeps alongside the belongings of those who were killed in a July 23 twin suicide attack at a Shia mosque in Kabul. ISIL took responsibility for the bombing, which killed at least 80 people. [SHAH MARAI/AFP]

KABUL -- Militants are showing they have no respect for mosques and other places of worship as they continue their destructive campaign in Afghanistan, Afghan officials and religious scholars say.

During the past two months, militants have destroyed or otherwise damaged 50 mosques, as well as other infrastructure and public facilities, according to Shah Hussain Murtazawi, deputy spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.

In that time, militants have destroyed or damaged 302 schools, 41 medical centres, 5,305 houses, 1,818 stores, a government building, 6 bridges, 290 alleys, 170 sewer drains, 123 kilometres of roads, 203 retaining walls and 84 service centres, Murtazawi said in a November 29 statement.

Contempt for religious beliefs

The Afghan people strongly condemn such acts committed by the Taliban and other militant groups, including the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), in the name of Islam.

The destruction of mosques and of other places of worship is un-Islamic and goes against all religious practice, religious scholars say.

"A mosque is a sacred place since people go there to worship," said Abdulahmad Muhammadyar, a Kabul-based religious scholar.

"Those who go to mosques for worship should feel calm and should be able to pray with a peaceful and relaxed mind and spirit," he told Salaam Times.

"Unfortunately the terrorists, who believe in no religion or sect, destroy the mosques and murder Muslims in these sacred places," he said.

"Such utter disregard for what people hold sacred is unprecedented in the history of this country," Elyas Rashed, a 27-year-old Kabul student, told Salaam Times.

Muslims used to go to mosques to pray with peace of mind, he said, adding that now the terrorists have robbed them of that confidence.

"Why is it that terrorists, who claim that they are fighting for God, destroy the houses of God and places of worship?" asked Asma Houtaki, a 25-year-old student at Kabul University.

Terrorists believe in nothing besides power and terror, she said.

"In addition to the martyrdom of many innocent people and the destruction of the mosque, I witnessed with my own eyes how several copies of the Holy Koran were torn apart and covered in blood," said Yaqoob, a 47-year-old resident of Kabul, referring to a November 21 suicide attack that targeted Baqir-ul-Uloom Mosque in Kabul.

"How can the militants claim to be defending Islam, while destroying mosques and burning God's Holy Koran?" he said.

Construction and rehabilitation

The Afghan government has announced the allocation of funds for construction and rehabilitation of mosques.

In a December 11 ceremony in Kabul, on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, Ghani said the government has allocated US $10 million (671.8 million AFN) to build or renovate mosques nationwide.

Ghani urged religious scholars to shed light on the truth and to advise and guide deceived individuals who fight on the side of war and destruction.

Ordinary Afghans are praising this measure by Kabul and are urging militants to stop their fighting and destruction.

The majority of those who fall into the trap of deviant groups are youths who are ignorant of terrorists' politics and tactics, said Muhammad Hasan Abdullahi, a 35-year-old Kabul resident.

"Now, after the destruction of mosques and the burning of the book of God, however, these youths must know that those groups are not defenders of Islam," he said.

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