I was walking towards my class after Jumaa prayers last Friday when I noticed a poster announcing a lecture. The title caught my eye "Conceptualizing Islam". I was intrigued so I marked it down on my PDA for Tuesday. Tuesday came and I found myself sitting in a large lecture hall with a sprinkling of students. There was background music that sounded pakistani but in retrospect it was probably afghan. I was the only muslim, black female there.........kinda got used to that in this school. The lecture begun with an apology for not serving lunch due to observance of Ramadhan. Hypocritical at best if you ask me because the lecturers Mr. Azizi and Mr. Azizi were both drinking water. What Ramadhan were they practicing?
The first Mr. Azizi got on the podium and explained his background. He used to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Afghan between 1966-79. He held a Law and Poli. Sci degree from Kabul and an MBA from Georgia State U. He gave a background of Afhaganistan:99% Islamic and tribalistic. Seriously, doesn't this sound like Somalia? This is not the only time that I would draw this conclusion when it came to this lecture. He explained that before they were invaded by Russia (1979) Afghanistan was a secular society on a democratic path. During the war Pakistan was the only channel through which help was received in Afghanistan. Afghanistan decided that in order to defeat Russia they would support smaller factions as opposed to one unified factions. After this bit of preamble the dude turned me into a critic. Let me quote some of the things he said:
"Pakistan is the biggest problem"
"Terrorist were arabs with the help of Pakistan"
"Musharaf is arrogant and has decided to put Pakistan ahead of the world"
"Pakistan are instigators of Taliban"
"Pakistan seeks strategic depth by taking over Afghanistan"
"No matter what Bush says we have to realize Pakistan is not our friend, the sooner we do the better."
See a thread? He was blaming everything on Pakistan. He used references of liberal think tanks in Washington that prove that Pakistan army is directly involved with insurgents operating in Afghanistan. He also cited a statistic that 92% of drugs produced in the whole world was from Afghanistan. This is important because Pakistan is the closest port that is used to get the opium out. Mr. Azizi then states that drug lord pay 3x more than afghan army to soldiers and thats why there is more insurgents. Post 9/11 for him shows promise because kids are allowed to go to school, women have rights and there is progress. In closing he states that Pakistan was created on a religious basis and there is no true democracy only a military presence.
The other Mr. Azizi got on the podium. His theory was that all the conflict came from these artifical borders carved by colonialism. Wait a minute isn't that the problem in Africa? What pissed me off about this guy was he targeted Islam, specifically madrasas. He claimed that madrasas brain washed the children of Afghanistan feeding them all these lies. The children were susceptible because their honor was vulnerable. He pointed out that when Afghan's immigrated to US their children were seen as social misfits in schools and would then turn to religion.I think this is true with any immigrant but for me it was somalis and gangs. These children would then come home and chastize the lifestyle of their parent's. DUH! maybe because they actually understood their religion more and saw their parent's version of religion as completely secular?
Now came the Q &A. What was the solution?
- Think of earth as a village.
- Educate from childhood.
- Create a popular group that can control Afghan that R friends of USA (u mean puppets?)
I liked some of the questions posed. Here are some:
- How do you create a sense of nationality when 1st they are Punjab's, then muslims then afghans?
- There was Moderate Islam (I think it was secular) in the past, Extreme Islam came with Russian invasion. can you purge out the Extremism?
- Isn't there a catch 22? The economy of Afghan comes from Poppy but then you can't stop it because it provides funds to build the hospitals and schools.
Here is the lesson I got from all this. First, I won't believe the title of a lecture ever again. I should have read the fine print but I learnt something from this lecture. One phrase Mr. Azizi said rang true. He said"War is poison." He explained that when a generation is brought up surrounded by war they cannot be expected to be peacekeepers or peaceful people. He drew an analogy. A soldier is built and trained for war, he can't be expected to turn into a peacekeeper after the war is over and thats why more "accidental" shootings of civilians is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think this lesson can be used in Somalia's case. The people in power are warlords or had some hand in the war. They know nothing but war. How can they lead us into peace? It is also a plea I guess on my part that some of us in the diaspora should think about being active in the reconstruction of Somalia or even contemplate going back and actually living there.