Virtually two years have handed for the reason that Taliban took management of Kabul. I, like many Afghans who labored onerous to get a very good schooling, am struggling. Information is dropping its worth and books are not thought-about worthwhile possessions.
When Taliban fighters arrived within the Afghan capital in August 2021, a lot of my buddies arrived on the airport and tried to depart, seeing no risk for themselves in their very own nation. The psychological stress was overwhelming.
Grasp’s levels, Ph.D.’s, with many printed books, professors, educators, medical medical doctors, engineers, scientists, writers, poets, painters – many discovered folks fled. A colleague of mine – Alireza Ahmadi, who labored as a reporter – additionally joined the gang on the airport.
Earlier than leaving, he wrote on his Fb web page that he had offered 60 of his books on numerous subjects for 50 Afghanis (lower than $1). He by no means left the nation; He was killed in an airport bombing by the Islamic State in Khorasan province.
I, too, determined to offer away all my books – 300 hundred of them, overlaying subjects like worldwide regulation, human rights, girls’s rights and the English language. I donated them to the general public library, pondering that in a rustic dominated by the Taliban, they’d be of no worth to me.
I began searching for methods to depart the nation. Due to this fact, there was no choice for me, so I made a decision to go to Iran, hoping that like tens of millions of different Afghans, I may discover a secure haven there. However like my countrymen and girls, I needed to face contempt and hostility there. I quickly misplaced hope that I might be capable to keep in Iran. However I discovered one thing that saved me going – my outdated love of books.
Sooner or later whereas strolling on Anqlab Sq. in Tehran, I could not cease myself from coming into its bookstores. I spent many of the little cash I had on books on human rights and girls’s rights, which I had by no means seen in Afghanistan. Armed with these volumes, I made a decision to return residence and attempt to return to my outdated life – surrounded by books and mental pursuits.
On my return, I began work on a guide on the worldwide authorized system and girls’s political rights in Islam, which I managed to finish in a couple of yr. I despatched my manuscript to varied publishers, however was repeatedly rejected as a result of they discovered the topic too delicate and thought it inconceivable to get permission to publish it.
Lastly, Ali Kohistani of Mom Press agreed to take the guide. He ready the required paperwork and submitted the draft to the Taliban’s Ministry of Info and Tradition to request formal permission to publish. Quickly after, the committee tasked with revising the guide despatched me a protracted record of questions and criticisms that I needed to handle.
I revised the guide with their suggestions, however it wasn’t sufficient to get permission. It has been 5 months now that we have now been ready for a ultimate reply and my despair is rising day-to-day.
Mr. Kohistani went to the ministry a number of occasions to inquire concerning the draft, which didn’t yield any outcomes. He has instructed me that he has 5 different books that he desires to publish this yr however none of them have been cleared by the ministry.
Different publishers are additionally affected by the arbitrariness of the Fee’s choices and lengthy delays. They are saying that the books that the Taliban wish to publish and those who match their ideology don’t face the identical challenges. They see this brutal act as an try and suppress any thought that disagrees with the Taliban.
Delays in publishing permits and censorship are usually not the one issues affecting Afghanistan’s guide business.
Many bookstores and publishing homes have closed within the final two years. Within the guide compound within the Pul Surakh space of Kabul, which I used to frequent earlier than the Taliban took over, many of the books at the moment are closed.
The Taliban’s determination to ban women and girls from highschool and college means they not purchase books. Boys and younger males have additionally dropped out of faculty and college, disillusioned with an schooling that can’t assure them a job. This has severely dried up the booksellers’ buyer base.
As well as, the Taliban authorities has imposed very excessive taxes on guide gross sales, additional decreasing the revenue of bookstore homeowners and publishers.
Libraries throughout the nation have additionally misplaced readers, as fewer folks learn or borrow books there. Varied guide golf equipment, literary associations and Studying Intelligence have additionally stopped their actions. It’s not seen as value proudly owning, studying or writing books.
In a single day, Afghan guide publishing has gone from a thriving sector – maybe essentially the most profitable home business – to a struggling and dangerous enterprise enterprise. Afghans are unable to afford books after changing into avid readers. I went from a proud author and guide proprietor to a determined man who tried and failed to keep up an mental life in Afghanistan.
It is rather unhappy to see this case in Afghanistan, a rustic with a protracted literary historical past and custom. This land was given to the world by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (also referred to as Rumi), Ibn Sina Balkhi (also referred to as Awsina) and Hakim Sana’i Ghaznavi (also referred to as Sana’i).
In my nation, studying, writing and dissemination of information have been all the time given nice significance. Afghan rulers of varied dynasties revered freedom of thought and supported studying and the manufacturing of information. Censorship, banning schooling and devaluing books have been by no means a part of Afghan custom or tradition.
Within the historical past of the world, no such nation has been capable of develop, whose rulers suppressed data, schooling and free pondering. Afghanistan is transferring in direction of darkness and ignorance and it scares me. Killing books and killing data could have dire penalties for the way forward for this nation.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate the editorial place of Al Jazeera.
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