Afghan Hindus and Sikhs in Germany: Present Status and Future

Author Name



Afghan Hindus, Sikhs, Germany


Once a small but prosperous religious minority, the Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan enjoyed relative affluence as traders and government servants before Indian independence. The creation of Pakistan posed a major challenge for them as it blocked the trade and transport routes to India. The Soviet invasion of 1979 and resultant turmoil started the process of migration for Afghan Hindus. The Taliban takeover of 1994 resulted in an almost total migration of this population. Faced with indifference from the Indian government, many sought asylum in European countries and the United States. Germany became a destination of choice due to more relaxed immigration laws, better work opportunities and a sympathetic judicial system compared to the United Kingdom or United States. Presently Germany hosts the largest number of Afghan Hindus outside India, centered around urban pockets such as Hamburg, Frankfurt, Essen and Koln. The religion and culture of the Afghan Hindus, having developed independently of the cultural currents of India, have certain unique features which are inalienable parts of the cultural heritage of Hinduism. As a diaspora, they carried this culture to their adopted land where it flourished despite their small number. German stance on Afghan refugees hardened after the election of Angela Merkel as Chancellor in 2005. Merkel government began the process of deportation of Afghan refugees to Kabul despite supplications from the most vulnerable among them, the Hindus and Sikhs. An appeal from United States Commission on International Religious Freedom pointing out the threat to the life and freedom of Afghan Hindus went unheeded and the deportation process continued despite protests from the affected community. The volatile security situation in Afghanistan on account of USA’s withdrawal resulted in a temporary ‘suspension’ of deportations, indicating no change in the core policy. This paper attempts to present a picture of their present status in Germany while analyzing their deportation in light of the rising tide of conservative nationalism in the West.



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