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Please note that this country guidance document has been replaced by a more recent one. The latest versions of country guidance documents are available at

Last updated: December 2020

This profile refers to religious leaders, such as members of Ulemas, teachers in madrassas, imams and theologists of Islam.

COI summary

[Anti-government elements,; Conflict targeting, 1.2.5, 1.5.1; State structure, 2.1.4; Security situation 2020, 2.16.3]

A high number of religious figures have been killed in recent years. Reportedly, targeting mostly happens in contested areas, but also in cities.

The reasons for targeting religious leaders are diverse but must be seen in the context of Ulemas being considered capable to delegitimise the insurgents’ religious ideology. Non-exhaustive examples of targeting include:

religious figures who have publicly expressed support for government views, including conducting funeral ceremonies for killed members of the security forces;
religious figures who have publicly condemned civilian casualties caused by insurgents or have expressed criticism of certain insurgent tactics on religious grounds;
religious figures who have publicly rejected the insurgents’ ideology because they are following a more moderate or another form of Islam.

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. killing).

Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: public expression of support for the government or condemnation of insurgents’ actions, performing ceremonies for killed members of the security forces, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is for reasons of (imputed) political opinion and/or religion.