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How far will the Taleban go
May 22, 2001 4:09 AM   Subscribe

How far will the Taleban go in isolating themselves from the rest of the world? This possible move brings to mind memories of how the Nazis treated the Jews during WWII.
posted by da5id (32 comments total)

 
Depressing. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge also come to mind.

Next thing will be the mass graves...
posted by lagado at 5:12 AM on May 22, 2001


You actually remember how the Nazis treated the Jews during WWII? You must be the oldest living MeFi poster...

Afghanistan is a theocracy. The state is controlled by Muslim fundamentalists. "Good" Muslims want to know when they are dealing with "bad" Hindus - and they expect that all women will adhere to the majority's religious restricitions on public display. You seem to not understand that the Taliban have no thought for the rest of the world, so "isolating themselves" has no meaning to them. They are driven by a singleminded fanaticism (is that redundant?) I think we in the West can't even begin to comprehend. The value judgement of whether this is "wrong" or "isolating" seems inappropriate in a case where you cannot even understand the basis of their decisions.

That said, would I want to live there? As a white, gay, agnostic, most assuredly not (OK, so I'm male, but I think from their point of view, those other attributes would pretty much cancel out any benefit from being a man...) Should we automatically assume they are NAZIS who will soon be sending all the Hindus off to Shiva in a puff of smoke? Only if we employ the decidedly overused 20th century device of comparing every evil to Adolph and the Brown Shirt Boys...
posted by m.polo at 5:47 AM on May 22, 2001


Hey Marco, if you increase the resolution of your monitor you will be able to see even more between the lines.

I think you could cut da5id a little slack; not too much, but just a little. Excuse my off-topi-city.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:59 AM on May 22, 2001


> How far will the Taleban go in isolating themselves
> from the rest of the world?

I wonder how much of this Afghan Airlines information is still true? They describe a hotel here but then you read something very different here. Anyway, Radio Afghanistan is still streaming very interesting stuff from wherever in the world (Toronto?) it is.
posted by pracowity at 6:36 AM on May 22, 2001


They're going swimming in that hotel pool, which just re-opened.

"By the time the Taliban swept into Kabul in 1996, enforcing their fanatical brand of Islam, the pool was full of leaves. Recently, the hotel's young, bearded staff had used it for five-a-side football matches. The pool is now Kabul's biggest summer attraction, in a city where TV, music and kite-flying are banned. A 9pm curfew is also strictly enforced. 'This is great fun in this funless city. We haven't had such a place for 10 years,' one student said. 'It is good to dip in the water. We felt like fish.'
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:40 AM on May 22, 2001


Should we automatically assume they are NAZIS who will soon be sending all the Hindus off to Shiva in a puff of smoke? Only if we employ the decidedly overused 20th century device of comparing every evil to Adolph and the Brown Shirt Boys...

On the contrary, I can see strong parallels between regimes that have puritans in charge.

Sure to boil everything down to a comparison with the nazis (i.e. evil incarnate 20th century style) may seem simplistic but sometimes the comparison has merit.

The Taliban are just one more in a long line of puritanical regimes that have got in charge of states in the modern era. Others include Stalin's USSR, Hitler's Germany, Mao's China and Pol Pot's Kampuchia.

The principle is the same, create perfection through strictly enforced purity of ideology and revolutionary zeal. Enforce conformity through submission to authority and the persecution of difference. Often this entails having enough weaponry and organization to be able to imprison and/or murder a decent percentage of the population.

These kinds of regimes are as new to the Islamic world as the other ones mentioned were to Asia or Europe. The Taliban, just like the Nazis are a product of the modern age.
posted by lagado at 6:45 AM on May 22, 2001


Well this story reports that there is a death penalty for converting from islam. It also mentions the lone jew left in Afghanistan. I heard about this rabbi on NPR a few weeks ago and I always thought it was an interesting story. More here.
posted by rdr at 6:53 AM on May 22, 2001


But Munawaar Hasan, general secretary of a major Islamic political party called Jamaat-e-Islami, or Islamic Party, said the move seems aimed to give protection to Hindus.

"The Taleban should win praise for this step," he said. "Providing protection to religious minorities is a must in any Islamic country and this step seems in line with this concept."


Proving that no matter how fundamentalist the government may be, they're still capable of ludicrous spin.

m.polo, da5id didn't say anything about gas chambers. He said that this treatment is reminiscent of the way the Jews were treated in Nazi Germany, and it is a fact that the Jews were forced to wear labels on their clothing to identify them.

It is ridiculous to assert that we can't judge right and wrong here. The people in power are oppressing women and minorities, who have no voice in the system. The Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident...." Some rights exist as a condition of humanity, and taking away those rights is wrong.

But, hey, as long as it's someone else being oppressed and not you, no big deal, right?
posted by anapestic at 7:11 AM on May 22, 2001


But, hey, as long as it's someone else being oppressed and not you, no big deal, right?

Thats exactly the attitude too many people seem to have. At the end of the day, no person should be forced to wear a label, whatever the reasoning may be.
posted by twistedonion at 7:47 AM on May 22, 2001


M.Polo: "Good" Muslims want to know when they are dealing with "bad" Hindus...

What? Really! What the hell kind of logic is that? Because "good" Muslims want to know who the "bad" Hindus are, they will target ALL the Hindus? Why don't the "good" Muslims also target "bad" Muslims? This is blatant case of targeting the Hindu minority population whom the Taliban gov't hates. This is EXACTLY the same situation as Jews in Nazi Germany.

What shocks me is that there are still Hindus in Afghanistan!
posted by Rastafari at 8:10 AM on May 22, 2001


m.polo>>> How would you feel if the Catholic Church became the United States Government and declared that all homosexuals wear a pink triangle where ever they go??? That is also reminiscent of Germany and Hitler.

Fanaticism. That is a good word. Hitler was a fanatic. So was Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc... Granted, they weren't religious fanatics, but look where their fanaticism led them...

Granted, my wording was wrong (memories) but my stance on the situation remains the same, and your convoluted explanation in justifying this move by the Taleban holds little if any merit.
posted by da5id at 8:28 AM on May 22, 2001


I think m.polo is being misunderstood. I don't read him as really fundamentally disagreeing with most people here, only saying that comparisons to the Nazis/Jews suggest that the Taleban will inevitably wind up trying to exterminate Afghani Hindus, which (I think he thinks) isn't necessarily so. Further (!) I believe that his "scare quotes" around good and bad were meant to denote distance from their meaning. Also, his "we can't comprehend them" was directed at the notion that they're stupid for isolating themselves from the world; they're not stupid, because that's not even a concern for them. If you want to call them something, call them wrong (I think is what he's saying).
posted by claxton6 at 8:38 AM on May 22, 2001


claxton6, m.polo comes right out and says that "wrong" is inappropriate in this case. I understand your desire to read things in the most flattering light, but your last point is not supported by the text.

Anyway, m.polo's perfectly capable of defending himself.
posted by anapestic at 8:48 AM on May 22, 2001


first of all, Bin laden is not a billionaire which gets my suspicions going. Is this fact being "brought to light" to inform us? Shiva is a god of war?(Chaos?), yes? so going there would imply the minority is fighting back.(Warsaw1944?) They are not fighting according to this article. Pol pot conducted the largest "wartime" evacuation in history and killed all the military , intellectuals etc, anyone who might oppose Angka Leou. It was a almost an ad-hoc regime. so comparison is...good to keep in mind if Hindus start dying. I think this is Islamic finger pointing to keep India and Pakistan scratching at another. What about Bali and the Indonesia paradigm. A label is a label. I just don't see no Julius striecher screaming. (Yet) da5id. I make these errors often, i think we know what you mean. pracowity seems to have a good thread going here.
posted by clavdivs at 9:04 AM on May 22, 2001


anapestic: Oops. Still, I think the reaction is out of line with what he was saying. Of course, that won't be clear until he shows up and explains further. (And I'm sure he is capable of defending himself; however, it's a little frustrating to see people pile on, without response, what looked like a misunderstanding.)
posted by claxton6 at 9:12 AM on May 22, 2001


And the winner is... Claxton6!

1. In Afghanistan, there is only one "good" people - Muslims. Everybody else, including the Hindus are "bad". They're not distinguishing between "good" Hindus and "bad" Hindus, they're distinguishing between "Muslim=good" and "All else=bad." A big part of the social construct of these fundamentalist Muslim societies seems to be about avoiding contamination with "impure" thoughts and cultures. Hence, the "good" Muslims want the "bad" Hindus clearly marked so they know who and what they are dealing with. And they want all women, both good and bad, to adhere to their cultural standards of dress. There's nothing in the article that even hints that the Muslims' reasoning for treating the Hindus this way is even remotely like the way the Nazis treated the Jews - where does it say that Muslims have decided that the ills of the world are all attributable to the Hindus? (I'll save you the time - it doesn't). It just says the Muslims want to know who the Hindus are.

2. To paraphrase the predominate image of Nazis, "Nazis = Auschwitz," the wholesale annihilation of the Jewish race for ideological purposes. No one brands someone else a "Nazi" without the epithet carrying that weight. Even more remote references (anybody remember "jackbooted thugs"?) are leapt upon for that reason. To call the Taliban "Nazis" is to at the very least imply that they are planning the wholesale annihilation of the Hindu population of Afghanistan. There is absolutely nothing in the linked article that even begins to cast suspicion in that direction and it is utterly irresponsible to throw the term "Nazi" about in an already emotionally overwrought situation like this without at least some semblance of backing for your theory. The Muslims are separating the Hindus out, that much is clear; that they are planning to annihilate them is a flight of pretty unsavory fantasy.

3. I am making my own little leap of faith here, but I'd venture to say that there are not a whole lot of fundamentalist Afghani Muslims posting to MeFi these days, so I'm going to generalize: we here at MeFi and in the West in general cannot comprehend living in a society so tightly focused on fundamentalist precepts. Not one of us so far has even claimed to be Muslim, let alone of the sect the Taliban represents. It is cultural imperialism of the most condesceding kind to pop up here, broadly label a society you have nothing other than sketchy news reports about and no real affinity for as "Nazis" and then sit back and watch the fun. The original poster said:

How far will the Taleban go in isolating themselves from the rest of the world?

as if the Taliban gave two shits about the rest of the world. Don't you kids get it - they don't care about us, the world or what we think because they assume - rightly, IMHO - that it's none of our fucking business. They are responding to what they believe is an authority far higher than the US or the U.N. or the Ford Motor Company - or the collective conscience of MeFi. Do I want them out blowing up mountain-sized statues of the Buddha? Well, I'd prefer that they didn't, but it's their country and those images are a direct affront to their religious beliefs and like uncountable cultures before them, they took action to remove them. Do I want them turning Afghani Hindus into soap? Absolutely not, and if it ever came to that, we should be prepared to assist the Hindus in leaving Afghanistan. Until then let's all just remember that they have a right to exist and to believe as they please, to live as Mohammed told them to live and, yes, to take steps to make sure they know when they are dealing with non-Muslims.
posted by m.polo at 10:01 AM on May 22, 2001


There's nothing in the article that even hints that the Muslims' reasoning for treating the Hindus this way is even remotely like the way the Nazis treated the Jews...

Are you seriously implying that we should take their *reasoning* into account before condemning their *actions*? And, further, that this represents an acceptable justification?
posted by rushmc at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2001


Way to spin, m.polo.

da5id did not call the Taliban "Nazis." He said that the way the Taliban were treating Hindus was reminiscent of the way the Nazis treated Jews during the war. And it absolutely is. He didn't say that they were doing everything that the Nazis did to the Jews.

You do not mark people unless you want to treat them differently, and in this case we can be nearly certain that differently means worse. This is clear reason to be concerned.

You're saying that it's their right to force Hindus to wear labels and that we should do nothing until they start to turn "Afghani Hindus into soap." At that point it would be too late, wouldn't it?

When people are being oppressed, it's the moral obligation of people everywhere to protest that oppression. I don't care about being labeled a cultural imperialist or condescending. The Taliban are treating some people as more human and some as less. That's wrong.
posted by anapestic at 10:36 AM on May 22, 2001


my sister in law is Bahai, does that count. Dated an American Muslim(Not really a date per say) and dated an Israel national living in the states, my familiy were quakers, puritans, celtic, pagan, Christian, catholic,presbyterian, unitarian,luthern and a few agnostic uncles. Being Muslim is not the issue. Comparison to acess tangable possibilties is...hell it is miracle from 6-7 years ago...is still not the issue.(A muslim in my dim beacons would not give MeFi a second glance until someone establishs some truth, qua, a voice on WHY they think they have to destroy the West. If i were an adherent to Islamic doctorine, MeFi would be another example for american imperialist propaganda that continues western idealogy even in the guise in "intellectual freedom". toilet paper and Faygo, i pled Occam. No slam ,the dumb devil has its voice, yes? of course this is from someone who spells Hamas, 'hummas'.
posted by clavdivs at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2001


"...WHY MEFI IS...the nicest,most open and free exchange of ideas i have ever been the priviledge to be aquinted with..."(Eye-twitch, highball slips through the drenced napkin that reads WELCOME TO BANGKOK)
posted by clavdivs at 11:12 AM on May 22, 2001


Bahai doesn't count - At least not in my experience, because they are not a fundamentalist Muslim sect bent on slavish adherence to religious texts.

In my little experience with Bah'ai, they are actually a rather open faith akin to Unitarians or the unity church. I've heard rumors that they are more along the lines of scientology, but I have nothing to substantiate that. In any case, I have no quarrel with the Bah'ai because they support NPR where I live. :)
posted by chason at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2001


sorry that fact was tounge-in-cheek. I feel the larger issue is whom maybe arming whom soon. the 'muhahadeen' took company help to destroy soviets. Hence, to some degree a trust had to built, an ideaological common ground, some humor perhaps. You dont give stingers to idiots period. The back lash is our"disavowel" of that group, how we just gave up. Deception is not always the name of the game. Perhaps the islamic sect feels these hindus could be armed. Will they give a reason for these hindus to arm? Bah'ai is a what one makes of it, like anything, i have not probed much into a unitarian viewpoint, though i am told this is really a redundancy because alot of religions adhere to some form of universalism.
posted by clavdivs at 12:02 PM on May 22, 2001


You know what, anapestic? I don't care any more than the Taliban does what your criteria are for deciding they are "wrong" and the Hindus need "saving." If you can't see the elitist attitude of that bleeding heart, we-are-the-world-we-are-the-children, do-it-my-way-or-else bullshit, I can only conclude you don't want to. At this point, other than the emotionally charged rhetoric being flung about by a bunch of net-connected Westerners, there's not been a single report - no evidence whatsoever - that the Muslims are in any way harming or punishing the Hindus. If that is not true, great - link it and I'll be the first one to admit I'm wrong. Until then, perhaps you should find problems to concentrate on that are your business and devote some of your obvious energy to solving those.
posted by m.polo at 12:19 PM on May 22, 2001


m.polo: So, at what point do you get worried about minority oppression? Seems to me that the difference between you and anapestic isn't one of kind, as y'all seem to be arguing, but one of degree. Anapestic says that the badges are enough; you say that the threshold is at some point past that--my question is where?
posted by claxton6 at 12:51 PM on May 22, 2001


Islamic Fundamentalism is a product of the 20th century, and is inextricable from Western (or in some cases just Outside) influences, and largely grew in power because of them. So to say that they don't give 2 shits about the West is incorrect. They could not have come to power without the West, and they actively use the West's most unsavory practices as justifications for their regimes worst excesses.

Islam is a religion that doesn't endorse most of what you see these groups doing, and in most cases directly contradicts it. However the basis of the religion is devotion to "the straight path." It doesn't take too much of a leap to figure out that in times of chaos, any straight path, even one being promised by a fanatic, might appeal to people.

Essentially, exteme times can lead to extreme solutions. The post-war atmosphere in Afghanistan was about extreme as it gets, and the Taleban are far and away the most extreme religious Government in the world at this time in History. The question is will the leaders believe that to maintain control they will need to ratchet up the level of control, or soften it. History points towards the former, which explains the worries of the international community much more than simple "do-it-my-way-or-else-bullshit," although I agree with m.polo that the approach to these regimes, even when it is well-intentioned, has an undercurrent of ignorance about Islamic and regional history.
posted by FPN at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2001


You know what, m.polo? If you can't see the utter selfishness of your leave-everyone-alone-if-they're-not-bothering-me world view, I can only conclude that you don't want to. It would be elitist if I told the Taliban what form of government they should have. I don't care how they do most things. But I do care about fundamental human rights.

There have been reports of Taliban aggression. They may not all be against Hindus, but if they treat Muslims this way, they'll abuse anyone.
posted by anapestic at 2:34 PM on May 22, 2001


m.polo, i suspect the reason you're arguing for such a hands-off policy to this kind of minority oppression is because you don't ever see that you could be part of the group being tagged.

And, re-read your history. Not just of the 1940's, but all of history. I was raised by Hindus, so maybe I'm a bit close to it. But make no mistake: The Taliban is progressing towards a plan of removing these minority groups. Either, at best, through the immoral displacement of people from their homes.

At worst, well, you know...

When these people are vicitimized, and they will be, it will have been made easier by the out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality of most of us (myself included) here in the west.
posted by anildash at 2:43 PM on May 22, 2001


The accurate reason given by Taliban for imposing it:

""The move is not meant to harm or humiliate Hindus," Mohammed Wali, the Taliban minister for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, was quoted as saying. "It is for their own safety and to protect them" from the religious police enforcing Islamic law, he said.

^^^this is what we all read, but not the second paragraph.

The Taliban say the yellow tag will keep Hindus from being stopped by police and prevent Muslims from claiming they are Hindu when violating religious laws. Muslim men are required to wear beards in Afghanistan, and they sometimes claim they are Hindu when arrested for shaving. Conversely, clean-shaven Hindus are sometimes arrested erroneously. "
posted by adnan at 5:01 PM on May 25, 2001


Good" Muslims want to know when they are dealing with "bad" Hindus

erm, when did they say that everyone was evil? as far their explanation is concerned, they needed to do it so that they can enforce their laws on the muslim ppl and make sure that muslim men that are arrested do not like that they are hindus. etc.etc.

they aren't trying to emulate the Nazis or anything like that.

i am not a afghan supporter, but it seems you people are such bunch of pessimists that expect them to be evil little horrible barbarians that will take over the world. heh.

of course, as all people, they believe they are right in their reality, just as you believe that you are correct in your reality. whats so hard to understand about that?
posted by adnan at 5:10 PM on May 25, 2001


if your a u.s. citizen you supported them.
posted by clavdivs at 8:21 PM on May 25, 2001


i am not, but if i was, it would still be beyond my control to stop the government from lending support to the talibans.

To think every american citizen is helping them because of their government's support, is to think true democracy exists.

it doesn't.
posted by adnan at 8:44 PM on May 25, 2001


American citizens fund the American government. Allowing our government to tax us to a point where it can afford to be supporting such things makes us responsible. America is a representational democracy, and we don't get to shed the blame for the actions made on our behalf, even if we did not support the guy in office, certainly those that hate this country would make no distinction when they come to take their revenge.
posted by thirteen at 12:02 PM on May 27, 2001


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