Presentation on theme: "Afghanistan Powerpoint Spring 2009. Keep in mind as you study the Middle East that Islam is a religion, and Arab is an ethnic group. Although most Arabs."— Presentation transcript:
Keep in mind as you study the Middle East that Islam is a religion, and Arab is an ethnic group. Although most Arabs are Muslim, not all are - some are Christian and some are even Jewish.
So where did Islam come from, and what does the religion entail?
Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the lands of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, as well as North Africa, fell under the influence of either the Byzantines or the Persians.
The area known today as the Arabian peninsula was largely ignored by the two mega-empires.
The region was populated by dozens of different tribes and clans, and plagued by perpetual wars and infighting among them, often based on old feuds.
The time was ripe for a man named Muhammad. At age 40, he believed he experienced divine revelations that told him to unite all the warring peoples.
He preached the idea of Islam, of unity among all the clans based not on heritage or history or family alliances, but based on common belief in one god, Allah, and the observance of his commandments.
In creating this religion, Muhammad and his followers drew on the existing monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism.
Islam believes that all of these religions, Islam included, all worship the same God.
In Islamic belief, Moses and Jesus were both great prophets. The Jewish torah and Christian bible were genuine divine revelation. However…
…human fallibility led people to misinterpret God’s word through these texts, and so Muhammad, the final prophet, helped produce the Qu’ran, the final holy text. These are held by Islam to be the “most perfect” word of God.
The five central “pillars” or tenets of Islam are:
The five central “pillars” or tenets of Islam are: 1.Belief in one god 2.Prayer five times a day
The five central “pillars” or tenets of Islam are: 1.Belief in one god 2.Prayer five times a day 3.Giving to charity
The five central “pillars” or tenets of Islam are: 1.Belief in one god 2.Prayer five times a day 3.Giving to charity 4.Fasting during certain times
The five central “pillars” or tenets of Islam are: 1.Belief in one god 2.Prayer five times a day 3.Giving to charity 4.Fasting during certain times 5.Making a pilgrimage at least once in your life to Mecca, the holiest place in the Islamic world, if you are able.
Doing these acts helps one in one’s quest to lead a righteous life…this quest is called JIHAD.
Jihad is also used at times to refer to “Holy War”, but this is not its main meaning.
Within only a century, Islam spread rapidly throughout the surrounding regions.
It spread through a variety of means: missionaries, educators, diplomats and also conquest.
At the height of its power, Islamic empires controlled this entire stretch of the world. Islamic peoples led the region in technological achievements, science, and art. Only China could compete with their sophisticated technology and bureaucracy.
Ever since Mohammad’s death, however, Muslims lost their total unity - differences about who should inherit his political authority led to the first major split, and others soon followed.
Green = Sunni Blue = Shi’a As you can see, over 80% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni:
Muslims live all over the world, and Islam is practiced by people from hundreds of different ethnic groups.
Between 1 and 2 million Americans are Muslim. That’s about the same number of Americans who are Jewish (2.3 – 3 million).
From sports (Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabar) to politics (Mayor Charles Bilal, congressional chaplain Imam Warith Deen Mohammed), there are many famous Muslims in America.
There are about 3.5 million Arab Americans in the United States.
Among the many Muslims in America are Afghan-Americans. Afghan Americans are not Arabs.
In fact, it’s hard even to say Afghans are “Afghans!” Afghan-Americans, like Afghans in their homeland of Afghanistan, come from many different ethnic groups.
The land that is now the nation of Afghanistan was originally inhabited by the Aryans, ancestors of the Persian people (whom we know today as the people of Iran).
The idea of a “nation”, and a “national identity”, is a very new concept, created in Europe only a few hundred years ago. For thousands of years, most people in the Middle East and Africa occupied certain lands, and considered that their territory unless someone conquered them or drove them off.
It was the European powers, like the British and the French, who, through conquest and diplomacy, drew the “borders” you see on the map today.
The “borders” around the modern state of Afghanistan actually include dozens of different Ethnic groups, including:
And many more! These peoples don’t all speak the same language, eat the same food, or have the same customs. Yet since the 1700s, they all lived together under one monarch.
Although some groups had more power or rights than others, generally speaking, they were left alone to govern themselves the way they wanted, so long as they swore loyalty to the ruling powers.
In the 20 th century, due in part to European influence, Afghanistan’s leaders tried to form a nation-state in which all the various groups would become united under an “Afghan” identity. In the 1970s, rebels overthrow the king and try and create a republic. This throws the country into fighting and chaos.
In 1978, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and tried, by military force, to conquer and unite all the various ethnic groups under the banner of Communism.
The Russians tried for ten years, but even though they had overwhelming military power, the various Afghan groups fought back using tactics like suicide bombings and sabotage, slowly wearing down the Soviet forces.
Since the United States and its European allies were opposed to the Soviet Union, they gave billions of dollars in aid and weaponry to the Afghans, especially the Mujahideen, the “holy fighters” who practiced a radical, fundamentalist version of Islam.
Among these fighters was a group called Al Quaeda, which means “the foundation” or “the base.”
Al Queda was formed by a Saudi businessman, who, with the help of US and European funding, built a small terrorist army to fight the Russians.
When the Russians finally withdrew their troops from Afghanistan, the country was left shattered by a decade of war and terrorist attacks.
After the Russians left, the United States stopped sending most of the aid…and with no clear governing group, various different warlords claimed power in different parts of the country.
Control of Kabul, the capital, fell to a group called the Northern Alliance. Mostly ethnic Tajiks angry at oppression after years of Pasthun privilege, they fought a bitter and prolonged series of wars with the Pashtuns there. In the process, much of the capital was destroyed and thousands died.
The infighting only ended when a group of radical Islamic scholar-warriors called the Taliban eventually took power.
The Taliban weren’t even all native to the area…many were leftover “holy fighters”, like Bin Laden, who had come from other countries to help fight the Russians, and then just stayed and took over when the Russians left.
Supported by wealthy investors in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (both US allies), the Taliban imposed an extreme version of Shari’a law, interpreting Islam to mean the virtual enslavement of women, and the imprisonment or death of anyone who disagreed with their policies.
Needless to say, this is hardly a majority view among Muslims, any more than the KKK, who are Christian, represent the majority view of Christianity.
Although there was some resistance from the Afghan people, the Taliban and their warlord allies controlled all of the military power, not to mention all of the food.
Meanwhile, in 1991, the United States and its allies attack Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
During that war, the Saudi government gives the American army permission to operate from bases on Saudi soil.
Meanwhile, in 1991, the United States and its allies attack Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. During that war, the Saudi government gives the American army permission to operate from bases on Saudi soil. This infuriates Osama Bin Laden, now living in Afghanistan.
Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca, the holiest city in all of Islam. According to his statement of Jihad, Bin Laden says he could not bear the presence of American non-believers and their military on holy soil, and vows revenge.
Just an FYI, Bin Laden didn’t much care that the US was attacking Sadam Hussein. Bin Laden hated Hussein for being a non-believer himself, and had in fact offered the services of Al Qaeda to the Saudi government in fighting Hussein’s army. (The Saudis refused his offer)
As part of what they consiered their “campaign of vengeance”, Al Quaeda operatives bomb two US embassies in Africa, and attack the US destroyer USS COLE in the waters near Yemen.
On September 11 th, 2001, 19 Al Qaeda operatives – all Egyptians and Saudis – hijack four planes and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (one plane crashes in Pennsylvania woods) About 3000 American civilians are killed.
Bin Laden claims responsibility, saying the attacks come in response to the US military presence on Saudi soil, US military operations in Muslim countries, and for US support of Israel (in that order).
The United States government determines that Bin Laden is in Afghanistan, and demands the Taliban turn him over to US authorities.
The Taliban at first deny Bin Laden is there, then say he is there, but deny he was responsible. In any event, they say they refuse to hand him over without proof.
The United States soon launches “Operation Enduring Freedom”, bombing Afghanistan for weeks and sending in troops.
Joining forces with the Northern Alliance, they quickly unseat the Taliban government and take control of Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul.
Between 3,000 - 4,000 Afghan civilians are killed in the initial bombings and in the days of the war against the Taliban.
In addition, many Pashtuns claim that the Northern Alliance abused them during the taking of the capital city.
With the Taliban removed, Afghanistan falls again into chaos. The US forces and the new democratic Afghan government they install control a portion of the country…mainly in the North…while the Southern part of the country falls back into the hands of various warlords.
Supporters of the War point to the improved condition of women in the North of Afghanistan, and to the successful 2004 presidential election, the first democratic vote in Afghan history. (Although many allege corruption and voting fraud in the process)
1)No Afghans were among the hijackers, so killing them is unfair.
Opponents of the war argue that: 1)No Afghans were among the hijackers, so killing them is unfair. 2)The war has made life worse in many ways for the Afghan peoples.
Opponents of the war argue that: 1)No Afghans were among the hijackers, so killing them is unfair. 2)The war has made life worse in many ways for the Afghan peoples. 3)The war, far from stopping Al Qaeda, may be stirring up more anti-American sentiment, and thus recruiting more terrorists.
As of April 2009, eight years after the war began, Osama Bin Laden still has not been found. US forces remain in Afghanistan, fighting leftover Taliban and Al Quaeda supporters, as well as the forces of the warlords. The war has spread into the Western part of neighboring Pakistan.
As of April 2009, 1137 Coalition soldiers (about 700-800 US soldiers) have died, thousands have been wounded, in the war in Afghanistan, along with 7,000-10,000 of Afghan civilian deaths (no accurate count has been kept of them).
According to President Bush, the goals of the war are the “destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure, the capture of Al Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.” President Obama has vowed to continue and even expand the war.
It remains to be seen how and when the war will end, and what will become of the Afghan peoples in their homeland.
In the United States, Afghan Americans rejoiced at the defeat of the Taliban…
…yet remain concerned for the welfare of their countrymen back home, as well as concerned about growing anti- Muslim sentiment in the United States.
Following 9/11, hundreds Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds in America were questioned. Some were arrested and held without charges or trail (many remain imprisoned to this day), and others were victims of racial hate crimes.
A Cornell University poll in 2004 showed 44% of Americans felt Muslim- Americans should have more restricted civil rights than other Americans.
Khaled Hosseini became the most famous Afghan American when he wrote the Kite Runner in 2003.