Life inside an ideological cave
The young lovers didn’t stand a chance.
In a desolate field on the edge of their village in northern Afghanistan, hundreds of men, stones in hand, closed in to carry out the mullah’s death sentence, handed down after the pair eloped against the wishes of their families.
“It was an act of great cruelty,” said Mutasem Khan, an uncle of Abdul Qayuum, the 28-year-old man who was stoned to death this month in Kunduz province along with the village woman he had wooed, identified only as 19-year-old Siddiqa…
Even as hard-line village mullahs loosely aligned with the Taliban seek a return to the harshest forms of physical punishment permitted under Sharia, or Islamic law, the Taliban leadership has been trying to rally public support by painting itself as a defender of civilian lives.
In a highly unusual move, the Taliban this month even offered to create and participate in a joint commission with the Western military, the United Nations and the Afghan government to investigate the deaths and injuries of noncombatants. That offer came soon after the insurgents issued a “code of conduct” that discouraged the killings of civilians…
For countries contributing troops to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force, such a settlement could set the stage for an exit from what has become an increasingly unpopular war. But the West says, echoed by the government of President Hamid Karzai, that negotiations can take place only with insurgents who promise to renounce violence and respect Afghanistan’s Constitution and legal system, which call at least in theory for due process under the law.
At the village level, however, matters of crime and punishment almost always encompass family honor and deeply held tribal traditions.
Summary justice, governing everything from land disputes to adultery, was a feature of daily life long before the Taliban rose to power in the 1990s and will probably remain part of the landscape regardless of how long the Western military presence lasts.
Someone remind me: Which group of Stone Age ideologues is on “our” side?
Why are we there? And who invited us to stay forever?