Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

This thematic area encompasses the wide array of subjects that illustrate Afghanistan’s rich history, arts, literature and culture, and the many ways Afghan society is changing and evolving.

The Destruction of the Bamian Buddhas (2)

Thomas Ruttig

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 […]

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The Destruction of the Bamian Buddhas (1)

Thomas Ruttig

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 […]

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Khalil Lula and His Friends or: Bad Dari spoken

Thomas Ruttig

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 […]

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

Kate Clark

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 – […]

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Guest Blog: Mining the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’

Thalia Kennedy

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, […]

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Guest Blog: Afghanistan on stage in Germany

Kathrin Ost

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? […]

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Flamingo Watching in Dubai

AAN Team

‘Listen to the birds. That’s where all the music comes from.’ (The first of Captain Beefheart’s 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing) ‘If you can’t listen to them, watch them at least. It gives you some peace of mind after watching the war.’ (AAN Senior Birdwatcher Thomas Ruttig) No, the Emirates are not only megahigh-rises, never-ending […]

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The Muhammad Omar everybody should listen to

In this Pashto Mashto blog, Fabrizio Foschini goes for a stroll in Kabul’s musical scene, according to his own, rather personal experience of it. I have always been a lazy student. When, on some Fridays, my ustad wakes me up shouting over the phone ‘Ahmad where the hell are you? Come, and today don’t bring your rubab! […]

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Kabul graffiti. Photo: Thomas Ruttig.

Nine Years and Fifty Days

Thomas Ruttig

Unfortunately, I do not have much time to follow the Afghan press – and even less the many Afghan TV and radio stations. But it is worth tuning in – and if it is only to be reminded of a historical coincidence. So, here a few impressions on what I picked up over the past […]

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Giving Thanks on Black Friday

Thomas Ruttig

Parental advisory: Attention, attention! The following blog is satirical. People without a sense of humour are strongly advised to stop reading here. Thank you to Imroz TV for displaying the moral rottenness of the West through its misidentification of one previously unknown individual as a representative of the world community. Thank you to Mark Sedwill […]

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Five Things Worth Watching

Martine van Bijlert

In early November several of AAN’s analysts and members gathered in Stockholm, to brainstorm, exchange ideas and participate in the annual SCA conference. We started the discussions by doing a quick round, asking everyone what the one or two issues were that are likely to be central, or that should not be forgotten, as we […]

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Birding for Survival

AAN Team

Our Dutch ex-soldier-cum-birdwatcher HG Scheltema from Kandahar (see his bird list here(*) has a friend, a US National Guardsman from Connecticut who served in Iraq for a year in 2004/05: Birding Babylon. His name is Jonathan Trouern-Trend who wrote a blog on his bird-watching (see it here, it seems to be continued by other bloggers). Meanwhile, […]

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