Sometimes the real news slips in through the cracks. You have to keep your eyes open for it, though.
For instance, in the midst of all the propaganda about progress in Afghanistan, and how Afghans are at least better off now than they were before the 2001 invasion, there is this “human interest” story which reported that Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have asked the UN for asylum, because they felt persecuted in the country of their birth. In fact, they felt so persecuted that they said they were better off under the Taliban.
Imagine that. Non-Muslims saying they were better off under the Taliban.
How do we know this? Straight from the horse’s mouth:
“To tell you the truth, we are not as happy under [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai as we were under the Taliban,” said Awtar Singh Khalsa, leader of the All Afghan Hindu and Sikh Community Council..."We face discrimination, and we face threats, so life is worse for us” than before the U.S. invasion.
So, just how bad do things have to get if people actually say they were better off under the Taliban?
Very, very bad.
Apparently, they can't even die, because nobody will let them cremate their dead in peace, or go out at night from their temple after prayers because "knife-wielding robbers" lie in wait. One imagines said robbers would've received summary justice from the Taliban.
The figures are stark enough: Back in the early nineties, when the mujahideen had rolled into Kabul, there had been some twenty thousand Afghan Hindus and Sikhs. Today, there are about three thousand – and they are desperate to leave. And, more to the point, most of those who have left have done so not during the years of Taliban rule, but in the last eleven years of “freedom”, imposed by the Empire.
|Afghan Hindu Family|
Interesting, isn’t it?
It gets even more interesting when you take into account the fact that, in 2001, the Taliban had made the Hindus and Sikhs of Afghanistan wear yellow badges to mark themselves. I remember, back in the late nineties, the orchestrated howls of outrage when this happened, with comparison to Nazi Germany’s forcing the Jews to wearing yellow badges. But the Taliban’s logic was relatively straightforward, and, if one put aside preconceptions for a moment, almost sane by their standards: since Hindus and Sikhs weren’t Muslims, they didn’t have to follow the religious code imposed on the rest of the Afghan people. Therefore, wearing badges in public merely safeguarded them from harassment for not following the said religious code.
I’m fairly certain that this “safeguarding” was followed more in the breach than the observance, but the fact remains that the Afghan Hindus and Sikhs would evidently prefer the evil Taliban rule than the benevolent democracy fostered by the gentle touch of Western bombs and boots on the ground.
Irony isn’t dead; not at all.