U.S. House condemns Taliban over Hindu badges

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives condemned on Wednesday a recent order by Afghanistan's Taliban rulers requiring the nation's Hindus to wear yellow badges.

The House approved 420-0 a nonbinding resolution demanding that the Taliban revoke its order and abide by international civil and human rights standards.

Lawmakers said the Taliban's order, widely condemned around the globe, was reminiscent of the yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany.

"We cannot allow the Taliban to systematically repress its Hindus in such an eerily similar manner," said Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and a Holocaust survivor.

The Taliban said the symbols were needed to exempt the nation's approximately 1,700 Hindus from the strict religious practices required of the Muslim majority and enforced by the nation's religious police.

The Taliban, which captured the capital, Kabul, in 1996 and now controls most of Afghanistan, is trying to impose an extreme interpretation of Islam that has frequently drawn international condemnation.

Earlier this year, the Taliban destroyed the country's ancient statues, including two colossal carvings of the Buddha, on the grounds that they were pagan idols.

Many House members wore yellow badges of solidarity with Afghanistan's Hindus during the debate.

17:08 06-13-01

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