Bahai News - Protest condemns Taliban code
Protest condemns Taliban code
Tuesday, June 5, 2001
By DEENA YELLIN
HACKENSACK -- Leaders and laypeople from several religious communities
gathered Monday at the Bergen County Courthouse to decry a recent edict
requiring Hindus in Afghanistan to wear badges identifying them as
But instead of chanting, shouting, or waving signs, they prayed for peace.
"Thou has created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that
all shall belong to the same household," said Aixa Sobin Smith, who
represented the Bahai faith and is a member of the Interfaith
Brotherhood/Sisterhood Committee of Bergen County, which organized the event.
Echoing leaders from the Hindu, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant
communities, who also offered prayers from their traditions, Smith said
all religions share faith in higher power, but merely have different
Rabbi Neal Borovick of Temple Sholom in Ridge Edge, who also spoke from the
podium, said "This is not a Hindu issue. It's a human issue. We have a great
moral responsibility to make sure religious minorities are protected."
About 20 people attended the noontime protest, including Mohan Khanna, a
businessman from Montvale and a native of India, who said he was shaken by
the recent edict. "Once it starts in Afghanistan, things like this
could spread to other countries," he said.
Since the radical Islamic Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in the
mid-1990s, the regime has banned education for females, beaten men for
trimming their beards, and destroyed ancient Buddhist statues.
Most non-Muslims there are Hindus. And some of their families have
lived in the area for several thousand years.
The announcement of the Taliban's new dress code last month aroused
international indignation. Many said that the yellow cloth badge was
reminiscent of the Nazi practice of requiring Jews to wear a yellow star.
That analogy was not lost on Susan Liebeskind, a Hillsdale mother,
who attended the vigil wearing a large yellow star of David around her
neck, bearing the word "Remember."
"I can't as a Jew stand idly by while people are doing what
the Nazis did to the Jews," said Liebeskind. "I need to be
able to say to myself and my kids that I did not stand by
Liebeskind, who wrote numerous letters to American politicians
condemning the Taliban, is trying to organize acts of protest through
"Even though I knew it wasn't me or my people being
persecuted, I felt like I was in Germany, that it was me that had to
wear the yellow star," she said.
Jack Lohr, a Presbyterian pastor from Franklin Lakes, echoed her
sentiments. "I'm here because of the need to stand up when others
are suffering and not be silent," he said.
Teaneck Councilwoman Jacqueline Kates, a board member of the Jewish
Community Relations Council, which is a part of the Interfaith
Committee, said Jews and Christians want to join forces with the Hindu
community to protest.
"They've been reluctant to demonstrate because it's not part
of their culture," said Kates. "We want to work together to
make a stronger stand."
Raj Gandhi, a surgeon from Fair Lawn, said he welcomed the
assistance. "We are new to this country so we need to learn from
Staff Writer Deena Yellin's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyright 2001, The Burgen Record
Page last updated/revised 060801
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