Ashura, the 10th of Muharam is a holy day for Muslims and especial day for Shiites. This day is a remarkable day in Islamic calendar, the day of mourning for the martyrdom of Hussian the son Ali and the grandson of Muhammad in the unequal battle of Karbala in the year Hijri 61 (AD 680).
Every year, Afghan Shiite mourners congregate in Kabul to mark the holy day of Ashura. In 2011 an attacker detonated a suicide vest among the crowd of mourners, killing at least 80 people. It was the country’s first major sectarian attack since the fall of the Taliban regime.
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Mustafa Kazemi was an influential member of the parliament at the time of his assassination, was a former Trade Minister in President Karzai’s cabinet. He was also the spokesperson for the opposition movement known as the United National Front. Kazemi and his parliamentary delegation visiting the sugar factory in northern Baghlan province was the target of a suicide attack on November 6, 2007.
Around 100 others were also killed in this blast and 80 others were injured. The majority of the people who were killed were school children who came to welcome Mustafa Kazemi and his team.
Most of the killings happened when bodyguards and security forces opened fire into the crowd out of fear. Some even believed that Mustafa Kazemi was killed as a result of rogue shootings by security forces. They found evidences like bullet holes in his skull and his body.
His picture on a torn electricity pole has a symbolic meaning about his death and the country that has been through three decades of wars. Afghanistan is a brutal country where everything and everyone is torn apart either physically, emotionally or otherwise. Those who have shown mercy either torn like this pole or forced out. Merciness, kindness and tolerance are replaced with cruelty, intolerance and meanness.
The city of Herat, the current regional capital of western Afghanistan, has been known for its cultural heritage. As a cultural hub for all Farsi speakers in the the region, noted for its music, poetry, calligraphy, art and architecture. However, today, Herat is different and of course not a good place for women. Herat has the highest number of cases of self-immolation — women who set fire to themselves — in the country. Many try to commit suicide because they are subjected to domestic violence and abuse. According to this report, in 2012 alone, over a dozen women have been killed and least 80 women died due to self-immolation in Herat.
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It is said that this is Mohammad’s quote: “I have no connection with one who shaves, shouts and tears his clothing eg. in grief or affection.” Thus, it is important for pious Muslims to have beard. The Taliban regime had a punishment for those who were shaving their beards: lashing. The Taliban regime had a code for men to keep their beards long enough - at least 5 centimeter. Also, in the Muslim world, men sometimes dye their hair, beards and mustaches with henna, which needs to be applied periodically in order to maintain its lustrous color.
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The war-torn Afghanistan is one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world. As a result, around 2,000 Afghans become disabled each year due to mine blasts and related incidents. In 2011, USA TODAY wrote: According to a U.S. Agency of International Development assessment, one in five households have at least one person with a disability, putting a financial strain on many already impoverished families that count on everyone to contribute to the household income.
The Afghan government estimates that between 800,000 and 2 million people are disabled, the majority of whom were injured during the past three decades. As the population approaches 30 million, Afghanistan has among the highest percentage of disabled people in the world.
Over half of Afghanistan’s disabled population is under 19, say organizations helping people with disability. Over 72 percent of all disabled people over six have not received any education, Afghanistan’s National Disability Survey (NDS) said in 2005.
IRIN News adds: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it has donated prostheses and orthoses (artificial aids such as a brace) to over 80,000 disabled people since it launched its orthopedic services in Afghanistan in 1988.
A prominent Afghan poet Sayyid Zakaria Rahel gazes at a female eye on a billboard. In Farsi poetry, eyes are the most notable source of inspiration for poets. I translated part of his poem called “human” on his blog.
Passing each other with a smile on our lips and a wall in between:
Passing each other with a smile on our lips and a mountain in between:
Human is internally bordered within itself with,
filled with thousand half hidden,
full of internal flames”