“Massoud is our hero. He is, of course, Musliman!” – a Herati man
Five years ago, just two days before the September 11 incident, the Afghan great leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was murdered. It was suicide bombers posing as a journalist and a photographer pretended to interview Massoud and then blasted themselves. Since then, the security officers in Afghanistan became very touchy with cameras.
All TV stations in Afghanistan during these days played documentaries about Massoud, mostly made by French filmmakers. It was interesting to see how the image of Massoud among Afghan different ethnics. Massoud was a Tajik, and for the Tajiks he was a great hero. The Uzbeks in a Maimana restaurant in Herat were also enthusiastic when follwing documentary programs about life of the great hero in TV. Some of them even cried exactly on the part when Massoud was murdered and Massoud’s brother was recounting the tragedy. For the Pashtuns, some of them liked and some disliked Massoud. Almost all of Hazara didn’t like him. Massoud once had did slaughtering action on this Mongoloid minority.
How about people in Herat? Herat is located at western part of Afghanistan, dominated by Farsi Tajik (Farsiwan) ethnic, the Persian. For these Persian speaking people, Massoud was also a big hero as he was fighting for freedom against foreign and Taliban power. When I was walking through Herat streets, which were overshadowed by tall ancient minarets, I was stopped by a kiosk vendor wanted to know about my religion. In Afghanistan, where education was still low, many people only knew and concerned about religion, and regard it as the only human value. “No, I am not Muslim,” I told him straight forward.
“Too bad…” the man then went inside, then came out after a minute, with a poster.
“Do you know him?”
Of course. That was poster of Massoud. In present day Afghanistan, you can see giant posters of Massoud in most cities. He had become such a big hero and the symbol of the country’s struggle.
“Massoud is our hero. He is a good man. And he is, of course, Musliman!!” said him.
He put an equal sign between being good and being a Muslim.