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Last update: April 2022

This profile includes people who belong to the Shia religion. In Afghanistan, 10 to 15 % of the population are Shia Muslim. The majority of the Shia are ethnic Hazara, and the two profiles should be read in conjunction (see 2.11.1 Individuals of Hazara ethnicity).

COI summary

Over the past years, the Shia community has been disproportionately represented among civilian casualties in Kabul and Herat. There are reports of attacks against the Shia, especially on places where Shia gather, such as mosques, and during religious commemorations or weddings [COI query on Hazaras, Shias; Security 2020, 1.2, 1.5.2, 2.1].

The ISKP reportedly sees Shias as a legitimate target for killing as they are seen as heretical. The group continued to target Shias in 2019 and in 2020 [COI query on Hazaras, Shias; Anti-government elements, 3.6.1].

UNAMA reported a resurgence of ‘deliberate sectarian motivated attacks against the Shia Muslim religious minority’, mostly the Hazara ethnic minority, for the first half of 2021 [Security September 2021, 1.4.2]. On 27 July 2021, a Taliban attack on the convoy of Sayed Dawood Naderi, head of the Ismaili Council, killed five and wounded two others in Baghlan province [Security September 2021, 2.4. See also the profile 2.11.1 Individuals of Hazara ethnicity].

After the Taliban take-over in August 2021 the Shia community was allowed to perform their religious ceremonies, such as annual celebrations of the Ashura, however it continued to be targeted by ISKP. Large scale attacks by ISKP took place on Shia mosques in Kunduz and Kandahar in October 2021, in which 119 people were killed and 220 wounded. ISKP reportedly claimed that they ‘would target Shia in their home and centres’. Following the blast in Kandahar, it was reported that the Taliban took the responsibility over providing security in the Fatimiya mosque, guarded previously by the Shia community. Incidents causing civilian casualties, were also reported in the Dasht-e Barkhi area of western Kabul, dominated by Shia Hazaras [Country Focus 2022, 2.4].

Instances of discrimination against the Shia community were also reported [COI query on Hazaras, Shias, 1.1, 1.2; Conflict targeting, 1.2.10,, 2.5; Country Focus 2022, 2.4].

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. sectarian attacks). When the acts in question are (solely) discriminatory measures, the individual assessment of whether discrimination could amount to persecution should take into account the severity and/or repetitiveness of the acts or whether they occur as an accumulation of various measures.

The situation of Shia has to be assessed in light of the recent takeover by the Taliban. The risk of targeting by ISKP should also be examined. Currently, it is assessed that 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 there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: area of origin (areas where ISKP has operational capacity present higher risk), participation in religious practices, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of religion.



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