KABUL, Afghanistan — Hindus in Afghanistan will soon be required to attach identity labels to their clothing to identify them as non-Muslims.

The Central Asian state's ruling Taliban group announced the new edict May 22. They have not yet set a date for when the law will go into effect, nor have they determined exactly what kind of label Hindus must wear, said Mohammed Wali, the Islamic group's religious police minister.

The edict also requires Hindu women in Afghanistan to wear veils as their Muslim counterparts do, Wali told the Associated Press.

The new law targets Hindus because no Jews or Christians live in Afghanistan, Wali claimed. Since Sikhs wear turbans, they are easily distinguished from Muslims, he added.

“Religious minorities living in an Islamic state must be identified,” Wali said.

The UNI news agency of India reported that the decree obliges all Hindu residents to dress in orange or yellow tunics, and place a yellow flag at the entrance to their homes.

India's foreign minister immediately protested against the measure, saying it discriminates against Afghanistan's Hindu minority.

UNI said the decree prohibits men from wearing a turban, while women must be totally covered by a yellow “burka,” with two small openings for the eyes.

Families must display a yellow flag outside their homes — internationally, the sign of infection — of at least 2 meters length. Moreover, Hindus are prohibited from living with Muslims and will not be allowed to build new places of worship.

Since seizing control of Kabul in 1996, the Taliban has brought about 95% of Afghanistan under its strict interpretation of Islam, which bans women from the workplace and requires that girls withdraw from school at the age of 8.

Last month the group faced international condemnation after sending armed troops to destroy Buddhist and other statues considered offensive to Islam.

In January, a Taliban official announced that Muslims who convert to other religions, as well as those who seek to convert them, would face the death penalty. He also said that those who sell books and other material that promotes “wrong beliefs” or is offensive to Islam would be imprisoned for five years.

From Combined news services)