The Afghan people's experience of jihad has been far from heroic or honourable, and outsiders should stop glamorising it
by Nushin Arbabzadah
If you are an Afghan who lives in the west you always run the risk of bumping into armchair jihadis - people born and brought up in the west but with the mindset of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. When they figure out you are Afghan, they engage you in a conversation, telling you how much they admire the Afghans for their jihad against the infidels. The conversation often ends with a statement along the lines of "You people are the only true Muslims in the world".
Well, thank you. We are flattered, but you are quite wrong. There are thousands of young Afghans who would gladly swap places with you. This is because, as an Afghan saying goes, the sound of the drum is always sweeter when heard from a distance. In other words, there is huge gap between the reality of jihad and fantasising about jihad in the comfort of your bedroom in Bradford or London. Afghans know this because we've been there, done it and are now facing the consequences.
Here are the consequences. The jihadi fighters of Afghanistan were no doubt excellent fighters but they turned out to be incompetent and despotic politicians, incapable of creating a coherent government or bringing peace to their people. Once their common enemy was defeated in 1992, they started fighting each other. In Kabul alone, 60,000 civilians were killed.
1) Armchair jihadis