Afghanistan and the Great U.S. Shariah Scare of 2010

In searching for a graphic for Richard Weitz’s WPR column on the Afghanistan parliamentary elections, Kari stumbled across this photo, from the USAID flickr stream, of three Burqa-clad Afghan women giving the inked finger to the camera. My immediate reaction was to recoil, with a sense of shock that in 2010, this is a sign of progress for U.S. foreign and security policy in the world. Voting is good, but it implies a respect for the subjectivity and personhood of each individual citizen that the burqa, in my limited understanding of it, denies.

My subsequent thought went to the current climate of Islamophobia in the U.S., which I have yet to find a point of entry to discuss, mainly because I’ve had trouble engaging the various expressions of it on a serious level. But this photo very graphically illustrates the disconnect between the domestic and foreign policy agendas of those who have warned of a creeping “Islamicization” of the U.S. while also arguing for a continued military commitment to Afghanistan.

To sum it up perhaps more explicitly, the U.S. currently devotes upwards of 100,000 troops and hundreds of billions of dollars to maintain as a protectorate a country officially known as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in many parts of which not just Shariah law, but as this photo underscores, an extreme interpretation of Shariah law is a de facto reality. And a growing Stateside political faction that largely supports this policy is at the same time stoking public fears over the “Islamicization” of the U.S. That’s either very cynical, or not very well thought out.