Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Ethnocentric View Will Leave Little Room for Peaceful Coexistence

Racial discrimination and lack of tolerance is one of the main challenges in Afghanistan. One will feel discrimination on the basis of their ethnicity and sect not only among ordinary people but also within the government’s machinery.
Afghans experienced civil war for years, which divided people ethnically, and put a strong adverse effect on people’s minds and feelings. The cruel practices of some political leaders and factions also generated negative view in the public air and the consequences still linger on as people’s attitude towards one another is colored with the brush of ethnicity and sectarian identity in many cases.
Ethnic, sectarian, and sexual discrimination is widely practiced by some religious figures. For instance, a number of individuals who study in madrassas discriminate women on the basis of their gender through curtailing their freedoms and restricting their social and political activities. Similarly, they believe that they are superior to others as a result of understanding religion and practicing religious tenets in strict way. I remember vividly when a cleric reiterated that the vote of a cleric, who practiced more virtue and religious principles according to him, should carry more weight than that of a singer or a dancer. This indicates that one is superior to another on the basis of religious virtue.
With this in mind, it is believed that discrimination roots in exercising parochial mindset and deeming oneself superior – be it on the basis of gender, sect, ethnicity, color, etc.
The more superior one deems themselves the more discriminatory attitude they will adopt. For instance, religious radicals, including the Taliban, discriminate people on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, and religious orientation more than anyone else. It is self-explanatory that the Taliban adopted more discriminatory role regarding women, considering them inferior creatures, through restricting their role within the four walls. They did not allow women to play their role in social and political spheres. Thus, they could not exercise tolerance.
It is believed that negative mindsets towards one another and lack of tolerance still rule Afghanistan. People still hurl insults at one another based on their race, color, and creed.
The practice of discriminatory attitude has narrowed the room for peaceful coexistence. People are less tolerant and pigeonhole one another simply on the grounds of their race and color.
Discrimination on the basis of one’s sect, color, creed, gender, etc. is not acceptable, especially at the government level. It is highly disappointing to notice the involvement of a government official in ethnocentric behavior.
Afghanistan’s main challenges, including civil unrest, originated in ethnic, religious, and racial discrimination and ethnocentric worldview. Believing themselves superior, religious and political figures and factions excommunicated one another and sparked sectarian and racial tension across the country. Subsequently, the tension led to large-scale conflicts, in which a large number of people have been killed. As a result, there was no room for peaceful coexistence and the country became a political quagmire for years. The horrible consequences are still felt in the country.
The human rights discourse in the post-Taliban administration could not put an end to ethnic, racial, and sexual discrimination. Although Afghanistan has vowed to observe the United Nations Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), as stated in the preamble of the country’s constitution, people still practice upon ethnic tendency and racial and religious orientation.
It is aptly stated in the Article 1 of UDHR, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” It adds in Article 2 that “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
In addition, violating one’s rights and freedoms and discriminating them on the grounds of their race, color, creed, gender, etc. are not acceptable constitutionally.
To extend the room for peaceful coexistence and the spirit of brotherhood, Afghans have to exercise tolerance and practice upon the country’s constitution. They have to respect the rights, dignity, and freedoms of one another regardless of their race, color, gender, and ethnicity. Superior feelings and ethnocentric view will harm peaceful coexistence and social harmony and generate further challenges in the country.