Barbers kept busy as music returns to the streets of Mazar(-i-Sharif)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Barbers kept busy as music returns to the streets of Mazar
Rory McCarthy in Islamabad
Monday November 12, 2001
For the first time in years the barbers of Mazar-i-Sharif were busy yesterday. Free from the gaze of soldiers of the Taliban's Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the city began to return to a more liberal life.
Men queued to have removed the long, untrimmed beards that the Taliban demanded they grow. Music blared on the city's radio station and women left their houses without the all-enveloping burka that had hidden them since the hardline regime seized the city three years ago.
Mazar-i-Sharif, a city of 200,000, always enjoyed a liberal culture. The city, whose name means "Tomb of the Exalted", grew up around a revered shrine and a busy commercial hub, renowned for its lamb market. Women were allowed to work and study and the city was filled with Afghanistan's ethnic minorities: the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, who were loathed and relentlessly persecuted by the Taliban.
No journalists have been allowed into Mazar, and details of post-Taliban life have had to be gleaned from brief satellite telephone calls to agencies in Pakistan. But the reports all suggest that people are throwing off the Taliban's restrictions.
Women have been leaving their homes unaccompanied by male relatives and are once again visiting the magnificent 15th century shrine which was closed to them under Taliban edicts.
"The gates of schools, enlightenment and education have now opened," radio listeners were told in Dari and Turkmen and Uzbek, languages of the minorities.
In a city where cassette tapes once fluttered from checkpoints to warn of the dangers of entertainment, restaurant owners and shopkeepers pulled out their hidden tape players.
Northern Alliance commanders interviewed on the radio warned residents not to seek revenge. Mazar has a big population of Pashtuns, the largest tribal group from which the Taliban emerged, and they are deeply apprehensive.
"Most people are staying at home and we have heard reports of armed bands walking the streets," an aid worker in Islamabad said. "There's a real fear that the looting we have seen in the past will happen again.'
-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), November 11, 2001
Thank you for posting this, Jackson. Great news indeed! Swissrose.
-- Swissrose (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 12, 2001.