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<nettime> Afghan women
cisler on Mon, 1 Oct 2001 21:13:38 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Afghan women

The largest group of Afghanis in America live in the San Francisco Bay
Area, primarily in Fremont and Hayward. A group calling themselves "Women
United for Peace"  advertised a meeting on KPFA, the
(left-wing/progressive) radio station in this area. The event was to
benefit Afghan women in this area. My teen-age son and I decided to attend
to hear what the women had to say.

When we arrived at the community college in Hayward, the parking lot was
quite full. There were large video cameras set up near the entrance, and
once we paid our $5 donation and entered the lobby we saw a range of
tables advertising Global Exchange, aid for conscientious objectors, the
Afghan Women Assn, Green Party, some revolutionary workers party, and a
woman selling 'contemporary prayer beads.'

We ducked inside and took one of the remaining seats near the edge of the
auditorium.  The program was a mix of statements, poems, music, and
testimony. Most of the audience was female, as were many of those on
stage. There were prayers from the Qur'an, Bible, and a Bahai chant.  The
American women who spoke were activists who usually tied their particular
cause into the current crisis: racism, world trade policy, social justice,
and even the Vietnam war.  Some admitted knowing very little about
Afghanistan, but all expressed their solidarity and spoke of peace.

However, when the Afghan women spoke, it was evident their sentiments were
much closer to mainstream America. They had long been opposed to the
Taliban for obvious reasons, and they certainly had no doubt about Usama
bin Laden. All of the people from Afghanistan and an Iraqi/Lebanese family
who had been the target of hate crimes spoke with a real passion about
belonging in America and/or being American. These Muslims wanted to assure
the audience they were American.

On the other hand, the native-born speakers and activists stressed one
world, peace, and criticism of many U.S. policies---past and present. It
seemed to me the Afghan women were not really aware of the political
sentiments of much of the audience, even though the benefit was for them.

A group of American-born Afghan musicians performed and recounted the
banning of music by the Taliban, the destruction of recording studios, as
well as musical archives.  We left just before the finale which was a sing
along, using a modified version of John Lennon's "Imagine"  where they
changed the line 'a brotherhood of man' to 'a brotherhood and sisterhood
of woman and man.'

In the lobby I spoke to a middle-aged woman, dressed in a stylish black
pants suit.  She was a member of the Afghans Women Association and had
fled from Kabul in 1992 where she had been a practicing psychologist. She
still had family there and received letters but no phone calls.

September 30, 2001

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