Afghanistan’s Other War

Washington Post writes;

“In recent weeks, the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai has moved aggressively to crack down on what Afghans call imported vices. He is acting partly in response to pressure from domestic religious leaders and partly to upstage Islamic Taliban insurgents who are stepping up attacks across the south.

Police in this capital of 4 million, which is also home to several thousand foreigners, have raided about a dozen restaurants and shops suspected of selling alcohol to Afghans and have seized and destroyed thousands of bottles. Officers have detained more than 100 Chinese women as suspected prostitutes, seven of whom were deported at the airport here Wednesday.

The cabinet also approved reviving the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Discouragement of Vice, a body that Afghan governments have maintained through much of the country's history. It became notoriously punitive under Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, when turbaned enforcers whipped women if their veils slipped and arrested men for wearing too-short beards or playing chess...

"We would be as different from the Taliban as earth and sky," said Sulieman Hamid, an official of the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs who would oversee the virtue and vice monitors. "They used Islam for political purposes. We only want to stop people from committing bad acts and help maintain the honor of Islam."…

"It is very difficult for people here to say they are against the virtue and vice committee, but I am against a department that could be a way of bringing the extremists back," said Shukria Barakzai, a female legislator. "If they want to do something about corruption and domestic violence, fine, but I don't need a department to decide if I am a bad or a good Muslim."


In the same week that the government sent alleged prostitutes back to China, it faced a different foreign challenge to Islamic culture -- the arrival of about 1,200 evangelical Christians from South Korea. They intended to stage a public rally last weekend, but after diplomatic negotiations, they were sent home because Afghan officials feared they would offend local Muslims by proselytizing and risk being physically attacked.

The depth of Islamic passion here -- and the wide disparity between Afghan and Western views of religious rights -- were also dramatized in March when an Afghan man who converted to Christianity was threatened with capital punishment. Under foreign pressure, the government let him quietly flee to Italy, but the incident shocked many Americans who thought their troops had liberated Afghanistan from Islamic persecution.”

In Afghanistan tribal values have become indistinguishable from religion which a lot people seem to forget. In Muslim countries religion always seems to become a political issue by default- to appeal to the masses government and opponents find religion a quiet useful tool. This is something western audiences find difficult to understand.

In Maldives, recently the president of the country accused the opposition of being made up of ‘Communists and Christians’, claiming that anti-government activity only started after 1998 once the government had taken action against Christian missionaries;

“The recent anti-government activities have their roots in the decision of the government in deporting foreign missionaries working to destroy the religious unity of the country and spreading other religions, back in 1998,” he said.

“The same movement is still in full swing because they see power of Islam and wish to wipe out Islamic religious beliefs from the minds of our people. Their aim is very clear, they wish to replace Islam with their religion. There is concentrated and well-funded work being done to convert Maldivians to their religion.”

Related;
Islam Under Siege, by Akbar Ahmed - his most recent book gives a good overview of the issues
Did Muhammad Really Say That?
Interview - Reza Aslan with US comedian Colbert
Minaret of Freedom Blog
NATO's New Afghan Adventure
Aid in Afghanistan- podcast
Beauty Academy of Kabul

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on August 7, 2006 8:55 PM.

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