Sunday, July 31, 2011

Romance in Afghanistan

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Rafi Mohammed, 17, in juvenile prison
Rafi Mohammed, 17, in juvenile prison

Love knows no bounds. Unfortunately, neither does hatred:

HERAT, Afghanistan — The two teenagers met inside an ice cream factory through darting glances before roll call, murmured hellos as supervisors looked away and, finally, a phone number folded up and tossed discreetly onto the workroom floor.

It was the beginning of an Afghan love story that flouted dominant traditions of arranged marriages and close family scrutiny, a romance between two teenagers of different ethnicities that tested a village’s tolerance for more modern whims of the heart. The results were delivered with brutal speed.

This month, a group of men spotted the couple riding together in a car, yanked them into the road and began to interrogate the boy and girl. Why were they together? What right had they? An angry crowd of 300 surged around them, calling them adulterers and demanding that they be stoned to death or hanged.

When security forces swooped in and rescued the couple, the mob’s anger exploded. They overwhelmed the local police, set fire to cars and stormed a police station six miles from the center of Herat, raising questions about the strength of law in a corner of western Afghanistan and in one of the first cities that has made the formal transition to Afghan-led security.

Thankfully, you can always rely on the safety offered by your family …

Ms. Mohammedi’s uncle visited her in jail to say she had shamed the family, and promised that they would kill her once she was released. Her father, an illiterate laborer who works in Iran, sorrowfully concurred. He cried during two visits to the jail, saying almost nothing to his daughter. Blood, he said, was perhaps the only way out.

“What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them,” said the father, Kher Mohammed.

… unless they’d rather their own flesh and blood be slaughtered to appease a degenerate mob bound by abhorrent traditions.

As it is, the two lovers are stuck in separate prisons and are awaiting further judgment and sentencing. Governmental and human rights groups have pledged to keep them safe, though it’s impossible to say whether such protection will amount to anything worthwhile, given the inhumane climate that permeates the region.

But, hey. At least they’ve been liberated, right? Or, as commenter perlhaqr succinctly summarizes my sentiments over at The Agitator:

I respect their right to hold their ignorant, goat-fucking barbarian views about how people should behave. My tolerance ends when they attempt to enforce those views with violence.

(via The Agitator)