Halim Tanvir Racist Speech Against Hazaras in Germany

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Recently, a gathering was convened in Cologne (Koeln), Germany to honor the legacy of Mohammad Gul Mohmand. The gathering was organized by the group, Kunar Afghan Association in close cooperation with the Afghan Academy of Sciences as well as the Afghan embassy in Bonn. At the opening, a message sent by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was read by the Afghan council in Germany. In it, the Afghan president had praised the work and services of Mohmand. A close look at this gathering and the message behind it, shows a very disturbing picture and conveys an ominous message that in the 21st century Afghanistan, there are still people, supposedly educated ones who espouse ethnic cleansing and speak in Hitler’s terminology of racism.

Among the speakers who talked about Mohmand’s legacy was, Halim Tanvir, a former deputy minister of culture and information who spoke chapter and verse from Mein Kampf. More on Mr. Tanvir’s remarks later, but first Mr. Mohmand in whose honor the meeting was convened.

Who was Mohammad Gul Mohmand?

Mohammad Gul Mohmand was an army officer who worked as adjutant to General Saleh Mohammad, war minister in the first cabinet appointed by King Amanullah. The minister, together with his adjutant, were fighting on the eastern front against the British in the Third Anglo-Afghan War in Jalalabad. They both conspired with the British agents in exchange for money and gold. The two managed to inflict slight injuries to themselves and as a result left the battlefield, leaving behind about 400 bodies of the dead soldiers. The British did not allow the burial of the soldiers and they were left to rot in the scorching heat to make an example to others. King Amanullah wanted to execute the two culprits but the queen mother and other tribal associates intervened and the punishment was commuted to prison terms.

To the great disappointment of the two culprits, the British had duped them. In five boxes that were sent to them, on the surface was gold and underneath pottery clay.

After Amanullah was dethroned and one of his generals namely, Nader Khan, declared himself as the new king, he appointed Mohmand to high offices as interior minister and later as a chief officer in charge of the affairs in the south, southwest, and the north. It was here that he did the most and lasting damages.  

What did he do in the north?

Mohmand had a blank check from the king to ethnically cleanse the north of non-Pashtuns and settle the Pashtuns in strategically important and fertile lands. The locals were forcibly displaced, and their lands confiscated. Northern Afghanistan also called Turkistan in local parlance was the land of the Uzbeks, Turkmen, Kazakhs, Hazaras, Tajiks, and others. It had no native Pashtun population. After the Pashtunization of the north, most of the representatives of the north in the parliament were chosen to be Pashtuns with the help of the central government and almost all the administrators were Pashtuns.

The policy paid a dividend during the Taliban onslaught in the north during the 1990s, as the settled Pashtuns helped them take control of the north and fought bitterly with their non-Pashtun neighbors.

Mohmand’s legacy has left a deep scar in the minds and souls of the northern people who lost their land to the settler. In some regions, he changed the demographic constitution of the local population. His name is synonymous with the occupation, ethnic cleansing, ethno-fascism, and cruelty. Among the crimes that Mohmand committed in the north was to destroy the remnants of Turkic culture there. He collected all the books in Turkish and Uzbek language under the pretext of building a library and in a public display poured petrol on them and set afire. He also collected Chapans, the Uzbek and Turkmen robes and set them alight. Hitler had burned books that he did not like mostly written by Jewish writers.

Some of the books Mohmand burned were historical and out of print. He also destroyed historical monuments, grave markings, and stones, the old historical, covered bazaar in Maimana with beautiful murals and tiles. Less than a century later, his fellow tribal cohorts destroyed the ancient statues of Bamiyan.

Is it a coincidence that the likes of Mohmand and the Taliban do not build anything of value of their own but destroy what is not of their making? Most of the historical sites are in disrepair around the country but nothing is being done because they are not situated in their regions.

Who is Tanvir and Why he has caused alarm?

Halim Tanvir is a pseudo-intellectual who admittedly considers himself a disciple and student of Mohmand. In the gathering in Cologne which incidentally was held in the birthplace of fascism, Tanvir talks of Aryan race and fully and wholeheartedly supports the policies of his guru. He is not speaking alone, he is the loudmouth of the new fascists in Afghanistan. What he says, is not his own words or thinking, he represents all those who are in power and who want to do exactly what he thinks. They are either not as loudmouth as he is or they don’t dare to speak in the same tone, but they think the same way nonetheless. One of the common traits that most fascists have, is that they always blame others especially minorities for the ills that befall their societies. Hitler blamed the Jews, Sinhalese blamed the Tamils, and Abdur Rahman and his successors the Hazaras and others. This way they think they can recruit sympathizers for their cause. As an example, Tanvir blames the low participation of Pashtun students in the Kabul university on others. The fact that Pashtun students cannot qualify to enter the university in large numbers, the blame is set squarely on the Pashtun leaders themselves.

Since the advent of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the country has gradually tilted towards ethno-nationalism. The Taliban massacred, persecuted and carried out a scorched-earth policy affecting Hazaras, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmens and others. After the fall of the Taliban, the so called democratic governments have leaned towards the same policy in a subtle and more nuanced manner. With all the killings and destruction carried out by the insurgents who were mostly Pashtuns, the two post-Taliban presidents have never called them terrorist, killers, or murderers that they are. Karzai famously called them the dissident brothers and Ghani called them political opponents. They both practically strengthened the Taliban hold in the country by releasing thousands of prisoners and restricting military response to them. Those who have surrounded the Palace in Kabul are mostly like-minded people who think that Afghanistan should be at least politically and militarily a monolithic country where the Pashtuns will have the power and the resources, and they should practically own the country. It is in line with this thinking that Tanvir talks about giving the lands to the Pashtun nomads and supports the policy that was initiated by Abdur Rahman and continued by Nader Khan, Mohammad Gul Mohmand and others. 

Tanvir laments about the lack of National Unity, but what he proposes is nothing short of ethnic cleansing or even genocide. He wants to marry Hazara girls to Pashtun boys to end the diversity. It is a forced assimilation. If his intention is to assimilate one ethnic group in others, why does he not mention Pashtun girls being assimilated into other ethnic groups?  He also advises that Mohaqqiq a Hazara and Dostum an Uzbek leader and the likes should be killed. Of all political and military leaders in Afghanistan, he chooses two non-Pashtun ones. In reality, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, most if not all violence and destruction are caused by his fellow Pashtuns. There were no suicide bombers, not one from the Hazaras or other non-Pashtun ethnic groups. If anybody is to be eliminated, it should be the leaders of the Taliban, and the ISIS who are Pashtuns. We have to call a spade a spade.

Who is a fascist?

Tanvir says that they are consistently accused of being bigots and fascists. He says ” fascists are those who are bigots and who are bigots, those who had complexes and still do and they want to take power and again kill people, shed blood and destroy peace. Are they fascists or the Pashtuns? “

Eighteen years of war and destruction are caused mostly by one group, the Taliban and later the ISIS who are overwhelmingly Pashtuns. The majority of the prisoners were from one ethnic group as Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai lamented in an interview that overwhelming number of the prisoners speak in one language. Those prisoners were not put in jail by accident or mistake, every one of them was a convicted killer who was caught during the anti-insurgent operations.

Tanvir’s hero –Mohammad Gul Mohmand, educated in Turkey– in turn, was a disciple of Adolf Hitler. It is interesting that in Germany where Hitler introduced the infamous theory of Aryan race, Tanvir raises the same issue about Afghanistan, proudly saying that the Pashtuns are Aryan as are the Tajiks. Tanvir is an Islamic fundamentalist demagogue who proudly confesses to being the disciple of a former military officer who carried out ethnic cleansing in the north against non-Pashtuns and who himself was a Hitler follower. He talks about the Aryan race, tries to get rid of some people such as the Hazaras by assimilating them to his ethnic group, and then says he and his fellow cohorts are not fascists. If he is not, I wonder who is?

There a good saying in English: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it is a duck.

More to explorer

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Sunni Hazaras of Afghanistan

Sunni Hazaras like their Ismaili brethren have been an integral part of the larger Hazara community in Afghanistan. Painful historical events perpetrated by the former rulers of Afghanistan from the time of the creation of the country as a geographical entity onward especially during the reign of Amir Abdur Rahman who waged a sectarian as well a racial war of genocide against Shi’ite Hazaras created a distance between the two main portions of the Hazaras.