Religious Influences – tolerance and inter-faith relations

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In Afghanistan and other Sunni dominated countries, minority Shi'a followers have suffered discrimination and persecution for their beliefs.  Iran and Iraq are two of the few Islamic nations with a majority of Shi'a. Iran expressed concern over the fate of the Shi'a groups living in Afghanistan under the rigid Taliban rule, and supported the anti-Taliban forces in the north.

Years under Taliban rule and weak democratic institutions have led to intolerance, resulting in acts of harassment and violence against reform-minded Muslims and religious minorities.  The Taliban imposed a particularly fanatical, anachronistic and rigid variation of Islam on the country, to which the conservative groups were sympathetic. Generally speaking, the Tajiks and northern peoples have been more liberal, while the Pashtuns to the south have been conservative.

Many of the Taliban's leaders were educated in refugee camps in Pakistan where they had fled following the Soviet invasion. Among the welfare and education services that Pakistan provided in the camps were madrasahs, or religious schools, which received additional funding and scholarships from Saudi Arabia.

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