JALALABAD -- More than 1,300 religious scholars and madrassa students gathered at Sherzai Stadium in Jalalabad city to declare their support for the ongoing peace process and call on the parties involved to agree on a ceasefire.
A majority of the participants were religious scholars and imams from rural areas of Nangarhar Province.
"People can no longer tolerate this war," Maulawi Zia-ur-rahman Allahyar of Kunar Province said while addressing the gathering November 5. "The government and the Taliban should accelerate peace talks and take meaningful measures to reach a peaceful settlement."
A ceasefire is critical for intra-Afghan talks to continue, said Allahyar.
"Fighting is continuing right now in the provinces," he said. "The Taliban claim that they want to make peace while continuing the violence. This is not the solution."
"The Taliban must first agree to a ceasefire and then talk about a lasting peace," he said. "This war is not acceptable to us religious scholars. The Taliban have started this war of fratricide."
"Taliban leaders are sitting in Qatar talking about peace while ordering their fighters to increase violence [in Afghanistan]," religious scholar Sayed Baher told participants of the gathering. "What kind of peace and religion is this? This is not acceptable."
Attacks on education centres contradict Islam
The religious scholars also condemned the recent attacks on educational centres in Kabul, saying they violate Islamic teachings.
"We want our cities to be safe, so Afghans can go to schools and madrassas. So everyone can live and work as they please and the war is ended," Fakhria, a female religious scholar who attended the gathering and gave only one name, told the media.
"If we look at neighbouring countries, there is no fratricide there; they also practice Islam," she said. "Islam is not a religion of killing but a religion of peace."
Fakhria pointed to the November 2 "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) attack on Kabul University, which killed 22 people, mostly students, and injured 27.
"They were not teaching any non-Islamic topics there; they were training the new generation for the prosperity of Afghanistan," she said. "It is clear that it is not a war for Islam."
"Whoever has a basic understanding of Islam and is not ignorant will not destroy their schools and will not attack educational centres," said Sayed Waliullah, another religious scholar at the gathering.
"But this is the work of those who are indoctrinated by external intelligence agencies to destroy their homeland," he said. "We need to change this mentality by teaching patriotism in our universities and madrassas."
Once upon a time in the past, a governor had built some bridges and culverts. Then the governor was transferred and a new governor came, and he was always backbiting the previous governor and telling that he just built a few minor culverts. If floods bring some chaff and straw during the winter, they will block beneath the culvert and then the water will run over the bridge and road and destroy the bride very easily. After the governor said these words, all the people started copyright and everyone was repeating his words and telling the same opinion that the bridge or culvert was not built properly, it will be ruined. Before the governor’s lecture, no one even guessed or thought and knew how to build a culvert. Now we also learned these gatherings and seminars from the foreigners and wasting our money on them, and at the end of the day, we say that the war against the government is illegitimate. My brother! Taliban receive their Jihad’s ruling from Pakistan and other foreign countries, not from us. If you and the government really have sympathy with this nation, convey these words to the people in the Friday prayers with the order from the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs. Will such Maulawi or Mullah be found to tell these words in the presence of the people from the tribune of the Mosques? Just 10 or 20 people gather and tell these words in order to make themselves popular or to have some achievements before the government. Who you are that disapproves or condemns. WhaReply
Attacking educational centers is an unacceptable crime. The government should at least identify the individuals or groups that were involved in the last few incidents on the educational institutes, including Kabul University, and tell the people who were behind these attacks and what was their purpose. After identifying the group, the government must take action against them, because the group is very dangerous for the future of Afghanistan. Yesterday, they attacked Kabul University and other educational institutes; tomorrow, they will attack another educational institute. Therefore, the government should take precautionary measures against such attacks and arrest the group through the intelligence agencies and punish them.Reply