‘When the prayer was done, the cleric cleared his throat. “Brothers and sisters!” he called, speaking in Farsi, his voice booming through the stadium. “We are here today to carry out Shari’a. We are here today to carry out justice. We are here today because the will of Allah and the word of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, are alive and well here in Afghanistan, our beloved homeland. We listen to what God says and we obey because we are nothing but humble, powerless creatures before God’s greatness. And what does God say? I ask you! WHAT DOES GOD SAY? God says that every sinner must be punished in a manner befitting his sin. Those are not my words, nor the words of my brothers. Those are the words of GOD!” He pointed with his free hand to the sky. My head was pounding and the sun felt much too hot.
“Every sinner must be punished in a manner befitting his sin!” the cleric repeated into the mike, lowering his voice, enunciating each word slowly, dramatically. “And what manner of punishment, brothers and sisters, befits the adulterer? How shall we punish those who dishonor the sanctity of marriage? How shall we deal with those who spit in the face of God? How shall we answer those who throw stones at the windows of God’s house? WE SHALL THROW THE STONES BACK!” He shut off the microphone. A low-pitched murmur spread through the crowd.
Next to me, Farid was shaking his head. “And they call themselves Muslims,” he whispered.
Those words from Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner are gentle compared to some of the atrocities and barbarism of which the real-life Taliban are capable (read accounts of the 1998 massacre in Mazar-i Sharif for a less sensitive account). Khaled Hosseini’s novel had an additional significance for me today.
BBC reports are saying that the Taliban have reorganized, that they are again fighting, and that they are again carrying out executions in parts of Afghanistan.
RTE reports today tell of forty-one Afghan men who have taken refuge in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral here in Dublin and are in the fifth day of a hunger strike, so desperate is their appeal for refugee status.
Has Ireland become blind to the stories it doesn’t want to see?