April 14, 2011 – By Mustafa Sarwar, Charles Recknagel
Lighting Up The Night
That the wedding halls are Western-style symbols — and big ones — no one can dispute. The four- and five-story cement-and-glass structures rise up like monuments to post-Taliban Afghanistan in almost every large city, lighting up the night with neon facades. Just one of the many in Kabul, the towering Sham-e Paris, or Evening in Paris, is crowned with miniature Eiffel Towers and neon fruit trees and offers bridal parties a pick-up service with stretch limousines. Inside, the largest wedding palaces have halls that can seat as many as 1,200 people and cost thousands of dollars to rent for an evening, in a country where the average annual income is less than $400. What the groom’s family gets for that money is a public place that, over time, has come to be regarded as a private space where guests can have a degree of freedom traditionally only enjoyed in homes. That includes Western dress codes that, sometimes, see brides appearing in Hollywood-style wedding gowns with bare shoulders or low necklines. And it can include abandoned dancing on both the men’s and ladies’ sides of the partitioned hall, plus some visiting between the two sides. Given the size and costs of the weddings, some hosts might welcome the ministry’s proposal to limit their scale. The proposal, which is now being considered by President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet, calls for restricting the number of guests to 300 and spending no more than about $5 per person. But the Justice Ministry’s proposal for policing committees, whose members would include representatives of the Religious Affairs Ministry and enforce Shari’a-compliant dress, raises questions of whether the law’s real purpose is more far-reaching.
Memories Of The Taliban
Habiba Danish, a young Afghan member of parliament who took part in the talk show, spoke out forcefully against the proposed legislation. “I personally won’t vote for this, because the [mullahs] will take advantage of it,” he said. For many, the committees recall the way the Taliban used to police weddings to ensure they observed the hard-line militia’s ban on music and dancing, both of which it considered against Shari’a. During the Taliban era, members of the vice-and-virtue department patrolled the streets, beating and arresting men if their beards were too short and women if they were out without a male relative.
L’articolo di RFE-LR prosegue qui