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The leaflets
October 16, 2001 10:36 AM   Subscribe

The leaflets dropped over Afghanistan are online now for your viewing pleasure. There are two designs, and they come in both English and Arabic. But my question is, can anyone actually read the things?

According to the CIA World Factbook the languages spoken in Afghanistan are "Pashtu 35%, Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism" And the country has a literacy rate of less than a third. I mean, the soldier shaking hands is somewhat obvious, but the radio tower?
posted by emptyage (24 comments total)


 
One of the leaflets is the subject of a Photoshop contest on Fark today.
posted by quirked at 10:44 AM on October 16, 2001


the publisher in me thinks, why didn't they put the radio tower on one side of the flyer and the "we're here to help" on the other side? printing costs, efficiency...

lame
posted by billder at 10:45 AM on October 16, 2001


The graphics on the radio tower flyer don't look like the greatest thing in the world. Reminds me of cheesy clipart.

"Palm trees? Rock 'n Roll? Who's concerned about fun in the sun when there are fighter planes overhead?"
posted by tomorama at 11:07 AM on October 16, 2001


This is a PR move for world support, not a real appeal to the people of Afghanistan. And it has no doubt helped the PR effort. Its harder to attack the US strikes when we are dropping humanitarian aid.

But the truth is, few people can read this, nor would I expect that anyone would take anything that had been dropped out of a plane that is bombing your country.
posted by brucec at 11:11 AM on October 16, 2001


1) The Arabic leaflets are actually not in Arabic. It is Pushtun.

2) Most of the Afghans who have radios, tune into BBC's Pushtun service. So, they would understand the concept of the radio tower.

3) US doesnt have to speak to every Afghan present on the land. They just need enough listeners, and word of mouth will do the rest.
posted by adnanbwp at 11:25 AM on October 16, 2001


I've read that the young muslim men are taught to memorize the koran in its original Arabic, despite their not knowing the language - then after memorizing it, they begin to study its lessons, so some Arabic is probably picked up that way. (Many assumptions on my part here)
posted by kokogiak at 11:27 AM on October 16, 2001


That's necessary -- any other language would necessarily have potential errors of translation.

Remember, the Qu'ran is not a book, but the collected revelations of The Prophet Mohammed, as instructed by Allah (through Gabriel). Mohammed was the messenger of Allah to his people, and recited his words. As Allah obviously speaks Arabic, this is the preferred means to understand him.

Of course, these are the words of an infidel, and Your Revelations May Vary (YRMV).
posted by dwivian at 12:00 PM on October 16, 2001


The photo of the soldier and the Afghani man might look better if you could see the Afghani man's thumb, then it would look like they were shaking hands, instead of being taken prisoner (with a smile). The fact the the Afghani man is looking at his hand with a puzzled expression doesn't help.

As both a visual creative professional and an American, these are really embarrassing.
posted by joemaller at 12:10 PM on October 16, 2001


damn, now I have no more questions on why that country is so f'ed up. If people can't even communicate, what's the sense??

Now here in America where we have the national language of spanis... I mean english, we communicate mighty well. hehe :)
posted by the_0ne at 12:12 PM on October 16, 2001


Does a handshake mean to them what it does to us? There are lots of cultures that don't use a handshake in greeting. Damn, I can't find my bookmark that might let me find out (at least for some Arabic speaking groups).
posted by realjanetkagan at 12:16 PM on October 16, 2001


By I want to know what's being dropped on the people under fire on the front lines. This is HUMWAR PSYOPS (Humanitarian Psychological Operations)--where's the WARWAR PSYOPS?
posted by rschram at 1:05 PM on October 16, 2001


Is it just me or is the Afghan man's right arm (shaking hands) just a copy of his left arm? Same tucks, folds, and shadows as the left arm. And it looks kinda short, too.
posted by Cecily at 1:26 PM on October 16, 2001


Ok, so Al Queada is Arabic for "The Base." So really, the goal of this war is to make All Your Base Are Belong to U.S.!

(ouch, stop throwing stuff at me. quit it!)
posted by riffr at 1:28 PM on October 16, 2001


interesting that a radio tower only speaks, it does not listen to the people. i'd say us not listening to the rest of the world might be a part of why we're in this mess.

that said, these look like the most ridiculous exercise ever. every time i look at these flyers i think they're a joke or some sort of filepile remix.
posted by whoshotwho at 1:54 PM on October 16, 2001


Remember, the Qu'ran is not a book, but the collected revelations of The Prophet Mohammed, as instructed by Allah (through Gabriel). Mohammed was the messenger of Allah to his people, and recited his words. As Allah obviously speaks Arabic, this is the preferred means to understand him.

Actually, the Qu'ran is one of the facets of Allah, much like his grace or power. The written version is for mankind's comprehension/convenience.

Kinda like in the bible, where it says the Word was w/ god and the Word was god, or something to that effect, refering to jesus..

(but i'm an infidel, too, so...y'know)
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:36 PM on October 16, 2001


ouch, i remember reading about how during desert storm, they dropped leaflets showing a comic of bart simpson sneaking into bed with the wives of the soldiers, while they were off at war.. now that's just cruel.
posted by lotsofno at 5:52 PM on October 16, 2001


from the CIA world factbook:

"Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black...

...note: the Taliban uses a plain white flag"
posted by philfromhavelock at 8:00 PM on October 16, 2001


Cecily - you are correct - to check, I cut out his left arm in photoshop, rotated it a bit and pasted it - it's a perfect match with his left. Somebody did cut and paste the Arabic man's right arm there. (They darkened it a touch and shrank it a touch too)
posted by kokogiak at 9:10 PM on October 16, 2001


I figured they'd have some more of a message to them, like "You won't be able to sleep for a while 'cause we're bombing your leaders, 'cause they won't give up Osama Bin Laden, so stay in your homes away from Military bases etc...etc:" I'm sure many for these poor people don't even know why the hell we're bombing them..., and I'm sure The Taliban (Tali Me Banana) Aren't telling them our side...
posted by danger at 10:26 PM on October 16, 2001


They should be air-dropping wind-up (or maybe solar?) radios, just a couple to each village, and broadcasting in all of their languages.

Then they could broadcast useful, entertaining programming -- whatever music might be acceptable, good weather forecasts, the (goat) farm report, market data useful to their type of farming, verifiable battle news, religious programming, advice on where refugees should go, how to get medical assistance, stories for children, etc. They could even have refugees reporting back to the people still at home.

But the best bit of PR the latest invaders could use would be a massive multi-year mine-clearing effort by the US Army. Or is the US Army now planting mines?
posted by pracowity at 11:44 PM on October 16, 2001


pracowity - they have been dropping radios, though if a foreign power were bombing my country, I'm not sure I'd be in too much of a hurry to use a clockwork gizmo they dropped on my village, goat prices or not.
posted by Markb at 4:18 AM on October 17, 2001


damn, now I have no more questions on why that country is so f'ed up. If people can't even communicate, what's the sense??

Yeah, that's it. It's illiteracy that has made Afghanistan the vacationland for the rich and famous poor and forgotten that it is today. A penetrating insight there, the_0ne.

::wanders off, ranting::
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:11 AM on October 17, 2001


> pracowity - they have been dropping radios...

Oh. Good. Thanks. I missed that article.

> ...though if a foreign power were bombing my country,
> I'm not sure I'd be in too much of a hurry to use a
> clockwork gizmo they dropped on my village

They might be a little nervous about it, but if the Red Crescent were to hand out a few and explain what they were for, I think people would take to them.
posted by pracowity at 7:04 AM on October 17, 2001


...note: the Taliban uses a plain white flag

So how can you tell if they're surrendering, or just being patriotic?
posted by spnx at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2001


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