Monday, July 27, 2009

Sikhs, Hindus dread Taliban tax in Pakistan

No surprises here. Muslims always extort money from non-Muslims when they have the power to do so. Since Sharia is the highest authority in law in Pakistan, the government will be of no help.


Sikhs, Hindus dread Taliban tax in Pakistan
By Sajjad Tarakzai (AFP) – 18 hours ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Sitting on a broken chair outside a Sikh temple in a crowded part of Peshawar, Aman Deep Singh is frantic about his future after losing his business in Pakistan's tribal district of Khyber.
When the Taliban gave Sikhs and Hindus an ultimatum -- leave the land of your forefathers or pay an Islamic tax in protection money -- Singh packed up and left his native Tirah valley for Peshawar.

"We were living under fear. Fear of militants, fear of Lashkar-e-Islam and fear of other armed groups," said Singh, his hair swept up in a turban, a long beard touching his abdomen and thick moustache covering his upper lip.
He swapped a general store in the mountains for unemployment in the northwest capital, where he struggles to feed the nine members of his family. Aman Deep is a fake name. He wants his real name hidden for his security.

As light fades to dusk, Sikhs gather for evening prayers at the Joga Singh gurdwara (temple) in a narrow street of Peshawar's Dabgari bazaar. Each man removes his shoes, washes his feet in a small pool of water and covers his head.
"I am not the only one. About 400 Sikh and 57 Hindu families migrated from (the town of) Bara and Tirah," said Singh.
Sikhs and Hindus are tiny communities in Pakistan. In the last year, hundreds have fled their homes after receiving death threats from the Taliban and other militant groups in an increasingly unstable northwest.