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Afghans in Minneapolis gathered on Friday to protest a recent attack in Afghanistan targeting the Hazara ethnic group.
Members of the Afghan Cultural Society of Minneapolis held a candlelight vigil and protest on October 7 to commemorate more than 25 people killed in a suicide bombing at Kaaj Education Center in Kabul on September 30. More than 100 people marched through downtown Minneapolis and ended the evening by lighting candles at the Afghan Cultural Society in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
The Kaaj Educational Center was located in a predominantly Hazara neighborhood. The Hazaras have always been persecuted by the Taliban, as many of them are Muslims from the Shia sect of Islam. CNN reported that most of the victims killed in the attack were female students between the ages of 18 and 25. Most of them were young women. No organization claimed responsibility for the attack.
The US government condemned the attack in a statement on Twitter.
“The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims,” the statement said. “They expressed their deep concern about the significant implications of the attacks on schools on the safety of students and their ability to enjoy their right to education.”
The attack sparked protests around the world. The Minneapolis protest was organized by local Hazaras and drew other Afghans, Iranians and Somalis, and Native Americans. The demonstrators opposed what human rights activists call a genocide of the Hazaras in Afghanistan.
The United Nations reported 20 incidents targeting Hazaras and Shiites in the six months leading up to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. Five hundred casualties were reported in these incidents.
The Sahan Journal spoke to organizers and participants of the Minneapolis protest in interviews translated from Dari.
St. Louis Park residents Mozhgan Hussaini and Razia Panahi, who are Hazara, organized the protest. They shared stories of friends and family members who were killed in similar attacks in Kabul.
Hussaini spoke of his cousin who died in a suicide bombing at a Kabul school in 2019. More than 20 students died and 60 others were injured. Islamic State, a militant group in Iraq and Syria with a presence in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The attack on Hazara educational centers in Afghanistan is not a new problem,” Hussaini said. “Everyone has a responsibility to try to prevent such attacks, which suggest genocide of the Hazaras.”
Panahi’s brother, Hussain, was killed in a car bomb attack outside the German Embassy in 2017. Hussain was an employee of the Canadian Embassy. Nearly 100 people died in the attack and more than 400 others were injured.
Mahdi Surosh, a resident of Hazara Minneapolis, said terrorist organizations in Afghanistan have targeted Hazaras in schools, wedding halls, places of worship, sports clubs, hospitals, highways and their homes.
“Over the past few years infants, mothers, students, laborers, farmers, Hazara activists and Hazara public figures have been brutally killed without justice,” Surosh said. “We want countries around the world to break their silence, recognize the genocide against the Hazaras and take all necessary measures to protect the community.”