Saturday, 28 November 2009

Butchering Sacred Cows

It’s Eid in Kabul. The city has shut down.  Locals head to mosque, then home to their families.  American expats are celebrating Thanksgiving; the rest of us are simply enjoying a long weekend.  When the two groups do cross paths, Afghan kids have been known to light firecrackers behind the feet of unsuspecting Westerners before running off giggling, leaving the foreigner, shocked and alarmed, to quickly search for cover from what can only be assumed to be incoming fire.

At the Indonesian embassy Rock'n'Roll classics are butchered by way of karaoke.  Outside, cows and goats are ritualistically slaughtered for the holiday.

Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, is one of the few countries that has maintained a diplomatic presence in Kabul throughout Afghanistan’s turbulent past.

Situated next to the embattled Indian embassy, the Indonesians don’t need to be reminded of the importance of upholding the appearance of neutrality in Afghanistan’s pugnacious politics.  Picking up stray body parts off the embassy tennis courts leaves a powerful impression.

But like the Indians, the Indonesians know all too well the threat of Islamic terrorism and can ill-afford to remain completely impartial on the topic of Afghanistan.  For the moment, however, there are painfully fresh kebabs and a harmonized "More Than Words" guitar sing-along to contend with.

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