This happens to me all the time; I meet someone and knowing that they are from some parts of Afghanistan, I ask them where they are from only to hear that they consider themselves from Pakistan, India or Iran. I understand that living with so many years of war, has created a ragged country, criminal mind, and Taliban persona or burqa wearing oppressed damsel, image of the Afghan nationals. I understand that having an Afghan passport does not give you the status you’d get having a Swedish passport but at least we have a history. I look into the history of American for example and I see the ethnic cleansing of the first people followed by a history of slavery of black Americans, and yet having an American identity will get you cross the borders no questions asked. I have a tough time telling my Afghans that if you don’t say that you are Afghan, they won’t know who the Afghans are, because that ‘universal image’ is what they see on their isolated couch from their screens.
I don’t mean to create “an Afghan Identity” because we have that identity, we come from a cultured background of poets and architectures. I can not create an image of us because we are diverse, we don’t fit in one single picture, we are very unique. I have asked people within the county where they come from, and they all say Kabul; as if there are no other provinces in Afghanistan. Every province has their own people. and their own uniqueness and you can not deny the fact but its so unique that seems like one came from the Mars. Most children would get bullied in schools, and be called Bin Laden, or Taliban, or names that does not represent who they are, and thats where in west we don’t have an Afghan identity, its taken from us. We were not only stripped out of our culture but were given an identity to portray us as criminals, and shady Muslims. This psychology of being perceived as a threat will bring fear to the victims themselves to behave in such way that he/she is to not only defend her/himself but to conceal their identity as a whole.
I lived in Iran and I was called “Afghani” as if its a type of bread or clothing, little they know Afghani is our currency, and we are Afghans not “Afghani” our own currency. The Iranian Media is not sincere to these “Afghanis” as if we are so outlandish and do not have similar culture and language. We are portrayed as crackheads who are criminals and crossed the borders illegally to steal the Iranian’s jobs and homes and school grades, and etc. We are tough and smart and they don’t like that, because its hard to beat perseverance, its something they can’t figure out and is hard to understand. As a second class citizen, climbing up the ladder in life is basically impossible due to all the structural violences put into place. There is a huge amount of sympathy for the Palestinian state, little we know about the Iranian government creating that sympathy through media to legitimize war in Gaza, protecting their oversea borders, in a cold war and ignore the near and the dear neighbour.
I hope that one day we come to appreciate what we have and do not hide under other nation’s identity repressing us and taking away our identity and history!