Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Ethnocentrism Played Destructive Role in Afghanistan

Ethnocentrism, racial discrimination, and lack of religious tolerance have led to insurmountable challenges in Afghanistan. A large number of individuals are discriminated on the basis of their ethnic and sectarian backgrounds in collective life.
Discrimination has been deeply embedded in traditional culture of Afghanistan and the bulk of the challenges in the country stemmed from racial, sexual, religious, and sectarian discrimination. That is, ethnocentrism and sectarian orientation have been playing a highly destructive role in Afghanistan.
To view the history, civil unrest and deadly conflict were rooted in ethnocentrism and religious and sectarian orientation. Capitalizing on religious sentiment of the public, Afghan kings had fatwa (religious decree) issued against an ethnic group to justify their acts of violence and killing. To put it succinctly, civil unrest in Afghanistan was painted with the brush of religious and racial color.
The ongoing war in Afghanistan still continues under the mask of religion as radical individuals are seeking to seize power under the same name. They are aware of the fact that Afghanistan has been ruled for decades under religious color and all killings and violence were carried out under ideological term. For example, the Taliban’s regime was established on the basis of religious ideology. With this in mind, the militant groups, as they still seek to rule Afghanistan, fear that their ideology will be discarded in Afghan society as it is moving towards democracy and shows tendency to democratic principles. Thus, the militants still claim religious and sectarian superiority and spill the blood of people out of humiliation.
Meanwhile, the term “the Taliban with tie” suggests that a number of individuals cherish the Taliban’s parochial mindset despite shaving and wearing suit and tie. They show sensitivity towards women’s active participation in the government and discriminate them on the basis of their gender and also spread hatred.
Apart from ethnocentric mindset and religious exploitation of the radical individuals, discrimination exists even within the government’s body. That is, ethnic orientation has been a factor in one’s appointment in higher political position within the government’s body. Even some posts are allocated to a particular ethnic group based on ethnic quota, which suggests that ethnicity outweighs one’s merit and abilities. Similarly, some political pundits could not help talking against an ethnic group in talk shows and media outlets.
Ethnic, racial, and sectarian discrimination also continues at the grassroots level as some individuals are treated unfairly by others simply for being born in a certain racial or religious background. Some people spread ethnic hatred on social media and hurl vitriolic attack against a certain ethnic group. Since social media is a free and open platform for each and every individual, it is most likely that radical groups capitalize on the polluted air on social media. Practicing on the axiom of “divide and rule”, radical groups will pursue their objectives in any possible way. They are believed to fan the flame of hatred and discrimination on social media and exploit public sentiment for the interests of their groups. They will also trigger individuals’ feelings against the government through exaggerating a minor issue and airing disinformation. I remember vividly when Afghan soldiers attacked a Taliban’s ceremony last year, in which some of their underage students were also killed. Subsequently, the social media were inundated with photos from children – who were killed somewhere else by someone else – to spark off public sentiment against the government. It could outrage the conscience of simple-minded people and would contribute to the Taliban’s recruitment since the incident was used as recruiting campaign for them. 
It is self-evident that the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recruited a large number of people from different parts of the world, including US and Europe, online. They were highly active in cyberspace spreading disinformation and radical ideology.
The ISIS group is widely involved in stoking sectarian violence as it has been targeting ethnic minorities in the country. The ISIS is seeking to sow the seeds of sectarianism in Afghanistan so that it could reach its sinister objectives and could resist the disintegration of its group after losing ground in Iraq and Syria.
All groups – notably the Taliban, ISIS, and al-Qaeda – are operating under the mask of religion and exploit religious orientation and racial tendency of the public in Islamic countries in general and in Afghanistan in particular. They killed thousands of people and destroyed the country and justified their ugly acts and sinister faces under a sacred term, which has been highly dangerous.
The destructive role and horrible consequences of ethnocentrism and racial and religious discrimination are widely felt in Afghanistan. That is to say, Afghanistan was the casualty of racial and religious orientation, exploited by many individuals and groups, and bore the brunt of conflict and destruction. Thus, Afghans have to be cautious not to further fall for the bogus claim of radical groups or for their personal sentiment.