Context & Culture

The Destruction of the Bamian Buddhas (2)

28 February 2000: The Taleban want to destroy all non-Islamic images of human beings in Afghanistan as ‘idols’. With this decision, they threaten the rich cultural heritage of their country. International experts react with horror. A contemporary article by Thomas Ruttig. The Quran bans all displays of human images because Allah – as the God […]

The Destruction of the Bamian Buddhas (1)

Together with the systematic exclusion of women from almost all spheres of social life, public executions in stadiums and massacres of minority groups that had resisted their takeover of certain parts of the country, it was the iconoclastic destruction of the two ancient Buddhist statues in early March 2001 which shaped the world’s image of […]

Khalil Lula and His Friends or: Bad Dari spoken

It has been a while that I have been collecting examples of how Afghan names and toponyms are often not only misspelled but almost violated in the media. For me, this reflects an utter superficiality because many journalists do not seem to care much about whom or what they speak about (and have no clue […]

Carla Grissman, Defender of the Kabul Museum Remembered (amended)

Carla Grissman, one of the great defenders of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage, has died in her eighties at her home in London. From 1969 she was involved in supporting the National Museum in Kabul. From its pre-war glory days as one of the best ‘small’ museums in the world(*), through to the worst of times – […]

Guest Blog: Mining the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’

The big Logar copper mine of Mes-e Aynak, with its Buddhist finds, epitomizes a dilemma many countries are facing: excavate your natural resources or protect your cultural heritage (and natural environment). In Afghanistan, after three decades of violent conflict, the latter is threatened to lose out in this competition. But as the country’s archeological sites, […]

A Tahrir Effect in Kabul?

Tunis, Cairo. Mass demonstrations in Sanaa, Amman and Algiers, smaller ones in Damascus, Nouakschott and Khartum. Even in Azerbaijan people started protesting after they realized that they had a Mubarak statue in the Azeri-Egyptian Friendship Park in their capital Baku. Many people have been asking: Is this the fifth wave of democratization now? And some […]

Guest Blog: Afghanistan on stage in Germany

In our events column, we had announced a new theatre performance in the German town of Potsdam, not far from Berlin, dealing with Afghanistan which opened on 12 January. Now we offer the personal impressions of Kathrin Ost(*), a young and promising German actress, who attended the opening performance. What do I know about Afghanistan? […]

Tactical or genuine? The Taleban’s ‘new education policy’

This time, the Times Education Supplement (TES) has the latest scoop about the Taleban. The article with the headline ‘Taliban “backs girls’ education”’ has already been picked up around the world. But it is worth to look at the source of the sensational statement. It is not from Mulla Omar’s ‘Quetta shura’ but from Kabul’s […]

Flash to the Past: … but not without snow

Ten years ago, AAN’s senior analyst Kate Clark was reporting on the first snow of the 2000/2001 winter for the BBC from Kabul which, then, was still ruled by the Taleban; people then were hoping a horrific drought would finally be breaking. An estimated twelve million Afghans had been hit by crop failure, many were […]

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