AFGHAN WOMEN; ALWAYS RESTRICTED
Fatemeh Madadi Montazer has studied theology in Afghanistan and she is a women's rights social activist. Mehrkhaneh had an interview with her about women and the family's status and changes in Afghanistan.
Hi, thank you for agreeing to have an interview with us.
Hi, and thank you for giving me this opportunity.
Let's start with the Afghan's experiences. For some time Afghans were under the rule and influence of the Soviet Union and the Communism Ideology, after that the U.S occupied this land and started promoting the liberal democracy culture in Afghanistan. This could lead to a kind of identity crisis for them, how have your people solved this problem?
It is true that there were ups and downs in the history of my country. But actually Afghans are looking for their identity beyond these incursions and invasions and although they are eager to progress and work hard, they want to keep their traditional identity and native values.
When the Soviet Union attacked, people resisted and fighting against the Soviet soldiers was very important for the Afghan. Specifically because religion used to be an inseparable part of their lives. But today it is different. Presence of Americans specifically in soft arenas and advertising is very evident. And this has caused lots of concerns for Afghan families. So it seems that fighting at this age and time needs a little bit more attention and vigilance.
Would you please tell us what you mean by soft arenas?
I mean the liberal culture that while being very different from our own native culture is being promoted so fast in Afghanistan. You can see it in the media. In my country western satellite channels are shaping lives of the younger generation now. Out of 25 Afghan T.V and radio channels only two or three are Islamic and all the others are promoting secular and western cultures. On these channels native Afghan cloths are depicted as less attractive and beautiful. Plus cheap western cloths are being imported to the country. So after a short while there will be no trace of the noble afghan cloths left.
The Internet was one of the first tools that the U.S invested on. Right now one can access the ADSL Internet everywhere in Afghanistan and there is no web filtering here.
This kind of modernization in Afghanistan can lead to an identity crisis and this is a cause for concern in Afghan families. Religious families are trying to control access of their children to this stuff.
How do you evaluate activities of international organizations in Afghanistan? If you search on the Internet you see that many European and American countries are active in Afghanistan and international organizations are present there too.
That's true. Lots of different international organizations in Afghanistan are active under cover of charity. The U.N is one such organization that has lots of workshops in my country. Of course a part of their activities include health and education. And this helps but the films and pamphlets that they distribute among people plus their teachings in workshops have changed the sexual culture in Afghanistan.
What stand do Afghans take against this? Are they active in educating the new generation and reproducing the Afghan culture?
Yes, specifically Afghan women are active and holding religious sessions is their major activity here. The Shia and Sunnis read the holy Quran in these gatherings and teach religious values. Islamic seminaries play important roles and many families want their children to study in these centers. There are lots of centers for women in Kabul. Like Khatam al-anbia, Narges, Ma'sume, Zeinab and Sekineh seminaries. Young Afghan women are very active in these centers.
My last question is about the Afghan's view on Iran and Iranians. These two nations are related historically and culturally.
Many Shiats and Sunnis feel close to Iranians. And some are against Iran; these are the people who are under the influence of fabrications in the media. But all in all many Afghans are under the influence of the Islamic revolution discourse and they appreciate independence of Iran against the west. Sunnis here support Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and they appreciate your country's resistance.
Thank you for the valuable information that you gave us.