Sunday, September 7, 2008

National Martyr's Day aka Massoud Day

Since I am 8.5 hours ahead of the US East coast, my quiet day references in the post below are actually for Monday, 8 September.

Although he actually died on 9 September 2001, today the Afghans are celebrating National Martyr's Day, or Massoud Day in honor of Ahmed Shah Massoud. That on top of it being Ramadan, or in Dari Ramazan, the streets were pretty quiet today. There was, however, a higher security presence in case the T-ban boys decide to cause trouble. They were never fans of Massoud.

احمد شاه مسعود
Ahmed Shah Massoud
2 September 1953 - 9 September 2001
Dari, like Arabic, reads right to left.

Ahmed Shah Massoud was one of the most successful mujehadeen commanders against the Soviet occupation. He was also the most pro-Western, anti-Pakistani, anti-Taliban and most respected Afghan leader. He is considered the National Hero. Many Pashtuns aren't fond of him, but then he was a Tajik.

Massoud's nickname is "Lion of the Panjshir" which is actually a Dari play on words. In Dari poetry, lions are emblematic of courage and nobility. Massoud was born in the Panjshir Valley. Panj is "five" in Dari. Shir is "lion." Panjshir then, is "Five Lions." Therefore his Dari nickname is "Shir-e-Panjshir" or "Lion of the Five Lions" making Massoud the greatest of the lions. The illustration then is that he is most noble, or most courageous.

In April 2001, during a speech at the EU Parliament, Massoud warned of the Taliban's ties with Al Qaeda. He also warned that a major terrorist attack in the West was imminent. It is believed that Al Qaeda was behind his assassination as a quid pro quo with the Taliban in preparation for the attacks of 9/11. In other words, by killing Massoud for the Taliban, Al Qaeda created a blood debt whereby the Taliban owed Al Qaeda protection.

Notice the shuttered shops.
Not for fear of the Taliban, but for Ramazan and Massoud Day.
But we can always use some balloons.

The normally busy corner bakery is quiet this morning.

This van's owner is a Massoud fan.
Massoud's image also adorns the lightposts.

Another deserted set of shops.
Notice the Massoud poster on the corner shop.