Friday, October 14, 2005

Talibanning pigeons, 1996

In my continuing series on banning various animals, we come to one of the most notorious (though if our high- tech society decides to do it the results may be even worse). In December of 1996, under the presidency of Amir Bin Maluf, the Taliban issued 16 edicts. Most were the usual ones that made headlines in the West: "To prevent sedition and female uncovers" (yes, that's ONE edict); "To prevent music"; "To prevent beard shaving and its cutting"; "To prevent kite flying" (I cite this because it is often mentioned); "To prevent idolatry" (ie, all pictures of anything)"; "To prevent sorcery". But one is particularly interesting, Edict number 4: "To prevent keeping pigeons and playing with birds. Within ten days this should be monitored and the pigeons and any other playing birds [Afghanis also kept falcons and fighting partridges] should be killed".

I have asked around. Some thought the reason for the ban was because pigeon flyers and partridge fighters gambled on birds ( but what of falconers?); others said that the Taliban considered playing with birds "un- Islamic" because it was frivolous and took away time from important things like prayer, beating women, and harassing others' innocent amusements. I should add that MOST Moslem societies love pigeons, and they keep some of the oldest breeds , especially in hard- drinking, Sufi, all- the- women-can- ride north- Central Asia, where "we love Allah, we do not love mullahs" (more on that later).

I am not the one who said that persecuting pigeons is of equal importance to persecuting women, artists, and musicians-- they were.

They did better at that particular crusade than at any but the one against the Bamiyan Buddhas. There are now more Afghan highflyers in the US than in Afghanistan. I'll try to find a pic.

The above edicts from Ahmed Rashid's excellent Taliban.

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