Our Journey to Smile

Afghan peace needs a human face III : Aziz the Afghan human person speaks

Aziz next to Balcksmith River

Aziz next to the Blacksmith River

Please watch Aziz the Afghan human person speak http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEzk4knM_WY

Salam ( peace ), Hakim.

Aziz, where do you live?

In Bamiyan, Blacksmith Village.

What’s the river behind you?

It’s the Blacksmith River.

Do you fish here?


Do most people in Afghanistan like war?

No, all are keen to have peace.

In my opinion, we want peace. We do not want war.

Why? Because war brings misfortune to people and society.

When asked what his wish in life was,

Aziz had said “ I wish to love people.”

Abdulai the mountain boy

Abdulai the mountain boy

Raziq works

Raziq works

Aziz loves sheep

Aziz loves people and sheep

Do Abdulai, Raziq, Aziz and other humans matter at all in war?

The purchasing power of peace BBC News 4/6/09

Defence companies, whose main task is to aid governments’ efforts to defend or acquire territory, routinely highlight their capacity to contribute to economic growth and to provide employment.

Defence spending 2008

US $374bn

Asia $173bn

European Nato members $144bn

Source : International Institute for Strategic Studies

António Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, has been UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 2005. Al Jazeera News 20/6/09

The number of people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide stands at more than 42 million.

Major countries of origin for refugees included Afghanistan (2.8 million) and Iraq (1.9 million), which together account for 45 per cent of all UNHCR refugees.

Just as the international community felt an obligation to spend hundreds of billions rescuing the international financial system, it should feel the same urgency to rescue some of the most vulnerable people on earth – refugees and the internally displaced.

And the amount needed is only a fraction of that spent on financial bailouts.

US admits Afghan airstrike orders BBC News 20/6/09

Failure by US forces to follow their own rules was the “likely” cause of civilian deaths in Afghan airstrikes last month, a US military report says.

Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse BBC News 24/6/09

Allegations of abuse and neglect at a US detention facility in Afghanistan have been uncovered by the BBC.

Former detainees have alleged they were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at the Bagram military base.

Interview with Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild president and Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn, Truth Out 22/6/09

I have testified as an expert witness in military hearings on the illegality of today’s wars.

There is a duty to obey a lawful order, but also a duty to disobey an unlawful order.

An order to deploy to an illegal war is an unlawful order, so it is lawful to resist the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.


Afghan peace needs a human face II : Raziq the Afghan human person speaks

the afghan human face of Raziq

Watch Raziq the Afghan human person speak


Raziq the Afghan human person speaks

Come…eh nah (okay)…like this?

Good morning!

Good morning!

Raziq, where did you flee to during the war?

Punjab(another district).

What did you learn from the war?

Nothing….war is bad.

What makes you happy in life?

Flowers and friendship…

Like this flower.

What message of friendship do you have for youth in other parts of the world?

Everyone in the world should become friends.

Everyone in the world should become friends.

The Afghan human face of Raziq speaks.

Raziq likes flowers

Afghan peace needs a Human Face : Abdulai the Afghan human person speaks‎

the afghan human face of abdulai

Abdulai the Afghan human person speaks

Afghan peace needs a human face.

Watch Abdulai the Afghan human person speak


Good morning, Abdulai. Good morning.

Abdulai, do you know your date of birth?

No, I don’t know.

Where do you live?

In Afghanistan, Bamiyan

What do you do?

I’m a student, a farmer and a shopkeeper.

What do you wish for in your life?

I wish for…truth and love.

Do you think you can find love and truth in your life?

I don’t know.

The Afghan human face of Abdulai speaks.

Afghan boy Abdulai and dignity

Afghan boy Abdulai and dignity

An Afghan human face that grows.

An Afghan human face that grieves.

An Afghan human face that forgives.

An Afghan human face that is kind.

An Afghan human face that struggles.

Do we think of the ordinary Afghan person as peace-loving?

We probably don’t. Why would we?

We don’t know any Afghan citizen living in his/her own home in Afghanistan and we cannot even remotely relate to a genuine Afghan public face of peace.

Mainstream media isn’t interested in the concerns and wishes of the Afghan majority because the majority is ‘ordinarily boring’ and ‘ordinary people’ don’t sell.

So, if 13 year old Abdulai wishes for ordinary love, joy or peace, or if he grieves over ordinary life and death, he might as well be a fictional character. After all, the only Afghan characters we hear of nowadays are ‘terrorists’.

But Abdulai is all flesh-and-blood next to me. Even then, if his wishes or his life gets snuffed out in this ‘dismantle-the-safe-havens-of-Afghanistan war’, it needn’t affect us. Because WE are ‘safe’.

It certainly didn’t affect the 91 US Senate members who voted ‘yes’ (against the 5 ‘no-s’) to a US$106 billion emergency spending bill to expand the war in Afghanistan and to continue the war in Iraq.

This unwilling de-humanization of others and the willful de-personalization of individuals finds ‘democratic sanction’ whenever fellow humans vote for war. The vote to kill.

How can Abdulai understand why people would vote to get rid of another human person? And oh, so much money.

Wage war with Afghans, Palestinians etc……destroy them, kill them in the unbelievable name of ‘democracy, religion or private security’.

In this way, the world’s public spaces have been filled with a grievous culture of hate and disappointment, leaving the ordinary and majority voices of peace in a vacuum. Unheard and un-regarded. Dead sound waves.

We choose to forget that even the most difficult persons, including the supposedly ‘difficult’, ‘wrong’, and ‘evil’ millions in Afghanistan, are born in places and circumstances not by their own conscientious vote. Abdulai certainly didn’t vote to send those planes into the New York Twin Towers.

So, I start today to bring you individual Afghan human faces of peace.

And I pray, not to God but to you, that the private space within your heart and the human soul embracing your mind, would give ordinary Afghans the Public Space and the Human Face which they and our world so desperately needs.

Or we could remain in the vacuum. And keep voting for ourselves.

I’ll begin with Abdulai.

Afghan Peace needs a Public Space ‎

Our Journey to Smile Peace Meeting at Bamiyan University 18/6/2009

OJTS Bamiyan Uni Meeting

Last Thursday, 18th of June 2009, a group of 50 Afghan youth gathered at Bamiyan University to discuss peace in their country, Afghanistan.

After a brief review of their 160+ years of wars, beginning with the first Anglo-Afghan War in 1839, the youth had discussions in groups and collated the following points (NOT in order of importance) under the following 2 topics.

What kind of peace do Afghan youth want?

  1. Peace that is just, transparent, close and personal
  2. Peace that is united, fraternal and equal
  3. Peace that is the same for all, including for both gender
  4. Peace that is from the Koran
  5. Peace without discrimination
  6. Peace that empathizes with and accepts everyone
  7. Peace that removes pride and selfishness
  8. Peace that arises among the people of Afghanistan
  9. Peace that is a culture nurtured by the civil society of Afghanistan
  10. Peace that is Islamic
  11. Peace that has no foreign interference

Action Plan for peace in Afghanistan

The participants discussed and collated the suggested action plan to bring peace to Afghanistan. These suggested actions were put to the vote. The 50 participants were each given a maximum of 3 votes for the actions they thought they could most likely implement effectively.

Suggested Actions for Peace in Afghanistan Number of Votes
1. Development of Afghan civil society 12
2. Relations between people of Afghanistan and the government 15
3. Peace publications and media 20
4. Pooling of Bamiyan youth for peace 8
5. Getting peace volunteers from other provinces 4
6. Establishing a peace council / core group 23
7.Organizing peace education workshops 24
8. Organizing public campaigns for peace awareness 10
9. Programs for balanced development 12
10.Development of Bamiyan Peace Park 16

The top 3 suggested actions were adopted as the next steps towards peace which the youth will take. They were

  1. Organizing peace education workshops
  2. Establishing a peace council / core group
  3. Peace publications and media

The youth participants were encouraged to hear about the small steps taken at Bamiyan Peace Park.

It had been proposed to the Bamiyan Peace Committee ( headed by the Bamiyan Provincial Governor ) that the Bamiyan Peace Park be built by the local Bamiyan communities, spearheaded by Bamiyan youth.

Last June, no work had yet been done and Bamiyan Peace Park looked dismal and raw.


In September 2008, youth volunteers came together to level some agricultural soil on the park grounds. The Governor inaugurated the start of the park’s development.


This year, Bamiyan Peace Park has taken on an initial shape, with grass growing and roses too!

Afghan Peace needs Space

گذارش از ورکشاپ صلح

این ورکشاپ که روز پنج شنبه تاریخ 18.06.09 ساعت دونیم بعد از ظهر شروع و ساعت 5:40 بعد از ظهر ختم شدند و به تعداد 50 نفر که از محصلین دانشگاه ،شوراهای جوانان بامیان،نهاد ها وانجمن هامتشکل بودنددر ورکشاپ تحت نام صلح شرکت کردند.

آنچه که در این ورکشاپ مطرح شد نظریات خود جوانهای بامیان بود .

در ین ورکشاپ قار بود  سوالات مثل زیر مطرح شود !

–         جوانهای افغان چه قسم صلح را میخواهند؟

–         چرا صلح را نمی توانیم داشته باشیم؟

–         ما چطور می توانیم صلح را بدست بیاوریم؟

اما به دلیل کمبود وقت جوانها تنها به سوال که جوانهای افغان چه قسم صلح را می خواهند؟ به شکل کار گروپی جواب گفتند که نماینده هر گروپ نظریات گروپ خودرا می خواندند که قرار ذیل می باشد.

1. صلح که درآن عدالت،صمیمیت وشفافیت وجود داشته باشد.

2.صلح که باوحدت ،برادری وبرابری باشد.

3.صلح که برای همه قشر افغان یکسان باشد وجندر مراعات شود.

4. صلح کلمه است از متن قرآن گرفته شده.

5. صلح بدون تبعیض میخواهیم .

6.صلح یعنی همدیگر پذیری .

7.از بین بردن غرور وخود خواهی.

8. صلح بدست خود ملت نه بیگانگان.

9. تطبیق فرهنگ صلح توسط نهاد های مدنی .

10.صلح درپر تو دین مبین اسلام .

11.صلح که دست بیگانگان در آن داخل نباشد.

بعداً تمام اشتراک کننده گان تصمیم گرفتند که کار عملی در مورد صلح باید انجام شود که باز هم تمام اشتراک کننده گان به گروپ ها تقسیم شدند و نظریات خودرا اعلام کردند که قرار ذیل است.

1.ایجاد نهاد های مدنی ورشد نهاد های مدنی درجامعه.

2. روابط بین ملت ودولت  افراد جامعه.

3. نشریه تحت عنوان صلح .

4. تجمع جوانان در ولایا ت افغانستان در رابطه با صلح .

5. جذب رضاکاران صلح از ولایات.

6.تشکیل دادن شورای صلح .

7. ورکشاب ها به نام صلح .

8. برنامه ها ی آگاهی عامه.

9. تنظیم برنامه انکشاف متوازن.

10. انکشاف پارک ها بنام صلح .

ودرین مرحله اشتراک کننده گان موارد بالا را بر اساس رای گیری  اولیت بندی کردند که هر ماده رای های مختلف آوردند .


موضوع کار عملی برای صلح


1. ایجاد نهاد های مدنی ورشد نهاد های مدنی درجامعه


2. روابط بین ملت ودولت  افراد جامعه


3. . نشریه تحت عنوان صلح


4. . تجمع جوانان در ولایا ت افغانستان در رابطه با صلح


5. . جذب رضاکاران صلح از ولایات


6.تشکیل دادن شورای صلح


7. . ورکشاب ها به نام صلح


8. . برنامه ها ی آگاهی عامه


9. . تنظیم برنامه انکشاف متوازن


10. انکشاف پارک ها بنام صلح

اشتراک کننده گان موارد که رای بالا آوردند به عنوان کار عملی انتخاب کردند که قرار ذیل است.

  1. ایجاد ورکشاپها بنام صلح

اسامی رضا احسان ، صدیقه، زهرا، نصرت، علی حسن ، سید علی، شیرآقا، مونس، قایم، لطیفه مسؤلیت را به عهده گرفتند.

  1. تشکیل شورای صلح

اسامی رضا احسان ، صدیقه، زهرا، نصرت، علی حسن ، سید علی، شیرآقا، مونس، قایم، لطیفه مسؤلیت را به عهده گرفتند.

  1. ایجاد نشریه تحت نام صلح

اسامی لطیفه، میرآقا، شیرآقا،مونس، رضااحسان، عصمت الله، سید علی، علی آقا، محمد رضا، شیرآقا، رحمت الله، زهرا، علی حسن و نصرت به عهده گرفتند.

Father’s Day in Afghanistan

father's day in Afg

Father’s Day in Afghanistan

Listen to the hopes of 2 Afghan kids and 2 Afghan fathers in Father’s Day in Afghanistan


How are you? I’m fine.

What do you want from your father? Candies.

What else? Nothing.

Salam ( peace )! Aleikum salam ( peace to you too)!

How are you? I’m fine.

Do you know that today is Father’s Day? No.

Today, Father’s Day, what do you want from your father? Nothing.

Salam ( peace)! Salam, Mr Hakim.

Don’t be tired. Be well, Mr Hakim.

Be alive. Are you healthy and well?

Congratulations to you today!

Be at peace, for what?

For Father’s Day.

Father…a very auspicious day, significant..

Did you know? No, I didn’t.

Afghan culture is un-developed.

I didn’t know.

You are the father of how many children?

Four. 2 daughters and 2 sons.

What message do you have for others fathers in the world?

My message for other fathers is : Come, help Afghan fathers to nurture their children & help to increase their ‎knowledge

Father, salam! Salam!

How are you? Are you well?

I’m fine. Be well.

You are the father of how many children?


What wishes do you have for your children?

They should work, work hard, understand?

They should go to Mecca and Karbala.

What do you hope for Afghanistan?

I hope that there won’t be trouble, there’ll be peace.

That the Taliban will not come again. I hope for peace.

You have ‘eaten’ many years. What wish do you have for the rest of your life?

I wish to work always, and travel to other cities, Mecca, Karbala..

I don’t have any other wish…the world lasts just 3 days…

We wish that your wishes will come true.

Have a good day. You too.

Thank you. Be alive. Be at peace. Be honourable.

The average life span for males in Afghanistan is 44.

Most men are farmers.

The trap in Shereef’s Journey to Smile : A response letter from an Arab Muslim Egyptian man to Hakim, my peacemaker ‎friend in Afghanistan ‎


Please read previous post A relational response to Obama’s Cairo speech from peacemaker in Afghanistan to Egyptian Arab Muslim friend

Dear Young,

Can you believe my luck? You were the first foreigner I met or took to. You are the nearest friend to me in soul but the farthest friend in body. Thank you for the letter and the love.

Let me share some of my thoughts of freedom with you for I believe that freedom is the most precious thing in life and that it is not a gift.

Man created gods to answer his questions of what he can’t understand and to complete and fix the unjustified and incomplete life (like the idea of life after death and judgment day). But that was not possible without the wild imagination of the human mind and this is where legends and myths came and flooded the simple beautiful heart of religion. Islam today is surrounded by all kinds of illogical and untrue stories that I can’t accept and that hide the human core of religion. And today these legends are the real source of how Muslims look and act and think (or don’t think) and when you are an average man in the third world, you will have to have religion in your life. As you can’t see the real heart of it, you will hang on to the external shape and that makes you legalistic.

In history, western civilizations took two important steps which we (Muslims) aren’t able to take. One is to separate religion from politics. Two is to free the mind, that is, to have no authority over the authority of the mind. This keeps us a thousand years behind and as I see it, we won’t start changing in another thousand years. And the political system in Egypt, like in the Islamic world, is a tyrant who makes the best use of the ignorance of the crowded majority and the cultured minds of the lonely minority. It has an education system which I see as the biggest destructive tool a tyrant has and I’m sorry that I’m a part of it. This education system trains someone who has no thinking skills or skills of expression or ethics or even work skills, and sends him to the market and a world that doesn’t need him, to a country owned by the general president and his family. At the same time, this young graduate has a mind full of religious legends which offer pain killers in the form of some after-life promises of justice, paradise and revenge. All he needs is to wait for death and act properly (dress white, stop shaving, pray, fast, hate any one who doesn’t look like him). For the political system, it’s always easier to rule sheep than to rule humans.

My dear friend, I told you why I feared visiting Afghanistan. It’s the Egyptian security authorities. No one there will understand that my real motive is to walk with you in the journey to smile for peace and if he does, he won’t believe it. He won’t let me go without making use of me as a ‘terrorist suspect’ or as a ‘possible informer’, to get credit for his personal career advancement. You know my responsibilities. There’s too much to lose.

For the future, I imagine the scenario which Life is writing for us as having a horrible end, through a virus or global warming or a nuclear explosion. This end can be a slap on human conscience and a step for the evolution of the human race. I mean we are expendable in these hard times for planet earth. Maybe, when we face the ugliest face of man and nature, we will participate in creating a better world and a more intelligent, humane and united Mankind. I’m optimistic. Don’t laugh that this is my optimistic view of life. Can you imagine my feelings when I face loneliness, and the fact that I can’t move out, the fact that brought my two girls to this world, that the things which tie me down are the same things I love, that I’m afraid to get into the window seat of a plane, and see the clouds and the sea and the mountains, to find you, my best friend, waiting at the airport and to participate in a noble thing, maybe find new ideas for my writings. Afraid of my own people. But the reality is that you are ‘my own people’, not them.

Thank you, Young, for existing. And caring.

You can put this letter on the website if you think it is worth it. If so, correct my English please.



June 15, 2009

traps and spaces

Thanks for your thoughtful, ‘trapped’ response.

The Spaces are the same

“Can you imagine my feelings….”

I don’t have to imagine because I share with you the great agony of Space, the huge Space of loneliness and discrepancies. Every human experiences this emptiness, whether in the ‘first or third world’, whether ‘Muslim or Christian’.

I have always considered Space and its emptiness. Space in the skies. Space on the plains. Space in our hearts. A Space which is not as much of dimensions as it is of meanings. A Space that is sometimes lonely.

I see its face in all others. I’ve tried to figure it out. But it remains there, un-dissectible.

Naturally, in these eons of wars, the possibility of a horrific death disturbs it.

SO, I often think wordlessly, “Why bother at all with this Space? “

The Traps are the same

Take heart, Shereef. Traps are like Spaces, so we may find true freedom yet.

All of humanity inhabits many ‘unrecognized traps’.

It is a fallacy that ‘western civilizations’ have separated ‘religion’ from ‘politics’ ( Constantine! ) or that their minds are ‘free’. It is also a fallacy that ‘Christianity’ is not as ‘trapped’ as ‘Islam’.

Despite the things which ‘threaten’ to ‘imprison’ us, in your village in Egypt and in my village in Afghanistan, I hope we can practice the ‘simple heart of religion’ and live by ‘the authority of our understanding’. If we couldn’t, the ‘heart’ would no longer be simple and our understanding would no longer have any trace of authority.

As you say, freedom isn’t a gift; we have to work at it.

Come ‘super-optimistically’! J

I understand the sad realities, but I ask that you come to Afghanistan anyway, ‘super-optimistically’, for friendship and peace!

Please keep writing. And ‘give Space to those Traps’!

Love always,

Hakim/Young in Afghanistan

June 20, 2009

Please come to Band-e-Amir, the first National Park of Afghanistan, for friendship and peace‎

come to Band-e-Amir

Please come to Band-e-Amir, the first National Park of Afghanistan, for friendship and peace


Please watch Afghan youth invite the world to come to Afghanistan’s first National Park, Band-e-Amir, for friendship and peace. They say:

Please come to Afghanistan for peace…

Come to Afghanistan for peace, without any political aim

Come to Afghanistan for peace

Come to Afghanistan for peace

Come to Afghanistan for peace, without any limitations or conditions

Come to Afghanistan for peace and friendship

Come to Afghanistan for peace

Come to Afghanistan for peace and smiles

Come for peace

Come to Afghanistan for friendship and peace

Come to Afghanistan for peace and smiles. Come to Bamiyan, Afghanistan, Kabul and Band-e-Amir

come to BandeAmir Afg for friendship and peace