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Shia Afghan leader calls for armed resistance at Frankfurt conference

Calls for armed resistance against the Taliban at a conference of Shia Afghans in Germany were largely met with reticence from Shias both in Afghanistan and abroad.


3 Jul 2024

Multiple Afghan media sources reported that a conference of Shia Afghans in Frankfurt, Germany, held on 8 June 2024, had called for armed resistance against the Taliban. According to the National Resistance Front (NRF), the meeting was organised by prominent Shia cleric and senior NRF leadership council member Sheikh Mashkoor Kabuli, with the backing of Shia Islamic centres in Frankfurt. 

On Facebook, Kabuli claimed: “over 50 influential national personalities, elites, scholars, and prominent Shia representatives attended the conference and some participants from Australia, Sweden, France, Turkey, and Iran joined the conference online.” Photos of the conference, shared by Kabuli, reveal that dozens of people attended the gathering. 

A bilingual banner, in Dari and German, displayed the event’s title: “International Conference of Afghan Shias in Europe.” The main topic of the conference was also displayed on the banner: “Investigating the Situation of Shias in Afghanistan Under Taliban Rule,” as well as discussion points which included analysing targeted attacks and forced migration against Shias, international support for Shias, and the global community’s role in preventing an alleged Shia genocide.

Figure: Photographs from the Shia conference in Germany, depicting attendees and the conference banner.

Upon closing the conference, Kabuli shared a declaration on Facebook, which covered the following five points:

  • Resistance and the fight against the Taliban

  • Coordination with other anti-Taliban forces

  • National unity and forming a democratic government

  • No trust in Taliban

  • International support. 

According to the declaration, participants emphasised the need for “decisive resistance” and a “direct fight with the Taliban.” Representatives reportedly stated: “the Shia community should stand against Taliban oppression in an organised manner, and, if necessary, armed.” 

Reactions to the conference’s call for armed resistance

Prominent Shia figures in Afghanistan and abroad reacted online to the conference in Germany. While many acknowledged the challenges faced by Shias in Afghanistan, and the need for positive governance in Afghanistan, these voices largely opposed the call for violence, and many took issue with Kabuli acting as a spokesperson for Shias and Hazaras in Afghanistan while operating from the safety of Europe. Pro-resistance Tajik sources, however, belittled these criticisms for their lack of proposed action against the Taliban. 

In reference to the conference, and Kabuli’s call for armed resistance, Jafar Mahdavi, a Hazara Shia, and former Member of Parliament, currently living in Kabul, said on X (formerly Twitter): “We do not deny the existence of problems. However, the Shia and Hazara communities of Afghanistan, for the nation’s and country’s benefit, prefer to learn from our bitter and bloody past. We aim to solve existing problems with tolerance, patience, and peaceful mechanisms, utilising Islamic and patriotic spiritual capacities. It is worth noting that many significant and minor issues have been resolved in the past three years through this strategy, avoiding fruitless, inconclusive, and violent conflicts.”

Hazara Shia leader and former Minister of Commerce Mohammad Natiqi, who currently lives in Turkey, reacted to the conference, saying: “The meeting of Mr Mashkoor Kabuli and his friends in Germany has nothing to do with the Hazara community, and no one has appointed him as a spokesperson to such recklessly call people on the line of war and fire. In the face of the murderous Taliban, we make and announce decisions according to the requirements and conditions.”

In response to Natiqi’s post, pro-resistance Tajik general Haroon Mubariz said: “Okay, so just watch and wait until the Taliban gives you an ambassador position out of charity.” Wahdat Shamal, a pro-resistance Tajik activist also replied to Natiji’s post: “Does this mean that tolerating cruelty has become a habit for you? Does it mean you want to die like an ant under the Pashtuns’ feet?”

Hassan Ali Adalat, a Hazara Shia University Professor and political analyst, who currently resides in Canada, said on X: “Whoever gives a fatwa for war should be in the front line of the war, and the Afghan Shias should ask these 50 Shia Mullahs in Europe, including (former Vice President Amrullah) Saleh, to take the lead in the war against the Taliban instead of encouraging others to make sacrifices.”

Female Hazara Shia civil society activist Laila Forugh, who currently lives outside of Afghanistan, referenced the recent Taliban shutdown of prominent Shia media station Tamadon TV in her response to the conference, suggesting that the closure was not enough to warrant armed resistance. She told her 32,000 followers on X: “Inviting Hazaras and Shias to war because of the closure of Mohseni's Madrassa and television shows that the inviters do not know the Hazara community. There is no doubt that the fight against Taliban is necessary, but it is impossible for the Hazara and Shia community to rise up for the sake of Mohseni and according to Mashkoor Kabuli's fatwa.”

Similarly, Masha Heza, a female Hazara Shia political activist and entrepreneur, living in New York, with over 11,000 followers on X wrote: “The meeting of Mr Mashkoor Kabuli and his friends in Germany has nothing to do with the Shia Hazara community.” Another Hazara political activist, Danesh, living in Turkey, also shared the same opinion.


The current anti-Taliban armed resistance fronts in Afghanistan, including the NRF and the Afghanistan Freedom Front, are predominantly led by Tajiks, with some Pashtun participation, and rare involvement from other ethnic groups, including Shia Hazaras. Notably, Mashkoor Kabuli is the only senior Shia figure in the leadership of these armed resistance groups. 

Although his call for resistance is significant, reactions from prominent Shia figures inside Afghanistan and abroad indicate that the Hazara community, despite its problems with the Taliban, is not ready to endorse calls for armed resistance.

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