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Topics Traditions Countries Classroom US/China  

COUNTRY

Afghanistan

POPULATION

30,419,928 (July 2012 est.)

GDP PER CAPITA

$1,000 (2011 est.)

RELIGIONS

Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%


Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Interviews (29)

Afghan society and politics are simultaneously united by Islam – one of the few agents of social cohesion in a land split along ethnic and tribal lines – and threatened by militant Islamism. Though Zoroastrians, Buddhists and Greeks all left an imprint on Afghanistan’s early history, Islam has dominated its religious landscape since the 9th century. When the Soviets invaded in 1979 to support the country’s new communist government, Islam united the multiethnic opposition to the atheist regime. Once the insurgency succeeded in 1989, the country plunged into civil war. The radical Taliban regime gained power in 1996 but was deposed by a US-led invasion in 2001. However, its supporters remain a significant power in large parts of the country. The current Constitution of Afghanistan guarantees freedom of religion but mandates that Islam is the state religion and no law may contradict Islam. Islam remains a major political force, with numerous Islamic political parties as well as an ongoing Taliban insurgency.


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  • March 21, 2011
    Background: This discussion preceded a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 10-11, 2011. The interview was conducted by telephone between Katherine Marshall, Michael Bodakowski and Bedreldin Shutta, and was finalized following an email exchange in March 2011. In this interview, Mr. Shutta discusses his motivations to work with a faith-inspired organization after a long career with secular development organizations. He reflects on his...
  • February 11, 2011
    Background: Background: This discussion preceded a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 10-11, 2011. The interview was by telephone between Michael Bodakowski and Batir Zalimov, with Russian/English interpretation provided by Manizha Haitova. In this interview Mr. Zalimov discusses development in Tajikistan, the role of civil society, religious leaders, and the government, and the sometimes tense interactions between and among them....
  • December 18, 2010
    Background: This discussion is background for a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 10-11, 2011. The interview was by telephone between Michael Bodakowski and Abdurakhim Nazarov; Tajik-English interpretation was provided by Manizha Haitova. In this conversation, Imam Khatib Nazarov discusses his role as a Muslim leader engaged in social welfare programming in Tajikistan. He describes programs on HIV/AIDS prevention, imam training,...
  • December 9, 2010
    Background: This discussion preceded a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 10-11, 2011. The interview was by telephone between Michael Bodakowski and Keshab Prasad Chaulagain, and expanded upon by email exchange on February 16, 2011. In this interview Mr. Chaulagain discusses the peace process in Nepal, the diverse actors, and the importance of engaging faith communities. He describes his collaboration with UN WOMEN and the crucial...
  • November 26, 2010
    Background: During this exchange with Michael Bodakowski and Katherine Marshall in November of 2010, Visaka Dharmadasa discusses her work to build sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. She recounts how she came to establish the organizations Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action and the Association of War Affected Women after her own son was declared missing-in-action. Describing the role of the Catholic Church in building bridges in Sri Lanka, Ms. Dharmadasa highlights the universal religious...
  • November 13, 2010
    Background: The context for this discussion is preparation for a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on January 10-11, 2011. The consultation is an endeavor of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, with support from the Henry R. Luce Foundation. Its aim is to take stock of the wide range of ongoing development work by different organizations...
  • November 10, 2010
    Background: Background: The context for this discussion is preparation for a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh January 10-11, 2011. The consultation is an endeavor of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, with support from the Henry R. Luce Foundation. Its aim is to take stock of the wide range of ongoing work by different organizations that are,...
  • October 27, 2010
    Background: This discussion took place in preparation for a consultation on faith and development in South and Central Asia, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh January 10-11, 2011. The consultation is an endeavor of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, with support from the Henry R. Luce Foundation. Its aim is to take stock of the wide range of ongoing work by different organizations that are, in varying...
  • July 30, 2010
    This discussion between Agneta Dau Valler, Katherine Marshall, Augustina Delaney, and Ethan Carroll took place on July 30, 2010 in Phnom Penh. The interview highlights the work and role of Church World Service, Cambodia, on a wide range of issues: capacity building of local partner organizations; village-level development in Cambodia's poorest regions; disaster risk reduction; and work to support peace and reconciliation. Ms. Dau Valler explains how CWS puts programs together and invests in...
  • July 8, 2010
    Background: This July 2010 exchange with Katherine Marshall took place outlines the origins of Amina Sasul-Bernardo’s work to bring Filipino Muslim women more visibly and centrally into peace work. She emphasizes that Southeast regional dimensions of this work have grown, highlighting the ways in which often invisible potential for social action can be transmitted into new domains. She explores why women, when given the opportunity and sound tools, can be the most effective peacebuilders.

    ...
  • July 7, 2010
    Background: This exchange between Scott Appleby and Katherine Marshall in July, 2010 focused on the USIP/Berkley Center/WFDD review of women, religion, and peace but also on Appleby's longstanding work on peacebuilding and how religion is woven through it. Appleby's pleads for us to stick to the term peacebuilding (in contrast to peacemaking or conflict resolution): “Peace is never fully made, but always being built”. We need to avoid essentializing gender roles. Fragmentation of the subfield...
  • July 6, 2010
    Background: This June 2010 conversation between Maryann Cusimano Love and Susan Hayward focuses on Maryann's academic work in seeking to bridge the U.S. Government and organizations within the international relations field that have often failed to engage “religious actors and factors” with faith-based organizations and communities that are involved in peacebuilding and development. Though religious groups are not powerful economic actors, they have significant clout with grassroots networks...
  • July 2, 2010
    Background: This July 2010 discussion between Afeefa Syeed and Katherine Marshall focuses on Afeefa's pioneering role within USAID and her rich experience there. She highlights the importance of listening to what communities want and driving programs from that perspective. Women are natural peacemakers, she argues, across many regions, from family to community to regional levels, sought out in conflicts because of their skills and approach. She also speaks to the active roles of youth, many...
  • July 1, 2010
    Background: As part of the Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Fellowship, Christopher O'Connor interviewed Yusuf Arrigasiyyu, Executive Director of the Muslim League for Accountability (MULAC). Yusuf Arrigasiyyu, who oversees the association’s initiatives, believes that good governance will ultimately lead to a more peaceful Nigeria.
  • June 17, 2010
    Background: This exchange in June, 2010 between Mari Fitzduff and Susan Hayward focuses on her experiences living and working in Northern Ireland. She highlights the importance of space for ecumenical engagement across sectarian barriers in moving towards resolution of that long-standing conflict and the important roles of women in building coexistence. One specific contribution was women’s roles in the push for integrated schools in Northern Ireland, with nuns, especially, taking a leading...
  • June 8, 2010
    Background: This June 2010 exchange between Qamar-ul Huda and Susan Hayward focuses on Huda’s experiences as a Pakistani-American, which led him into the field of Islamic peacemaking, and his work for USIP in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • June 5, 2010
    Background: This June 2010 exchange between Manal Omar and Susan Hayward highlights Omar’s experiences and insights into religion and its intersection with women's empowerment, development, and peacemaking, particularly with respect to Muslim women in the Middle East. She speaks to the challenges she herself faces as a spiritually devout Muslim woman operating in an often secular-biased development field, and she emphasizes the need to build relationships between secular and religious women.
  • May 18, 2010
    Background: This May 2010 exchange between Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana and Susan Hayward focuses on Dr. Kadayifci-Orellan's experience leading workshops on Islamic peacemaking in the Middle East, and her observations of women's roles, absences, and strengths for peacemaking. She also reflects on the challenges women religious peacemakers face, and gulfs that separate secular and religious women working for empowerment and peace.

  • April 7, 2010
    Background: This May 2010 exchange between Dena Merriam and Katherine Marshall highlights Ms. Merriam’s pioneering work in creating a Global Initiative for women that centers on women. She recounts how she has come to see women's spiritual voices as critical to global peace, and why their voices and the agendas and energy they reflect result in differences in approach and outcome. Her initiative has taken shape over the past decade, born of the glaring gap in women's roles at the pivotal...
  • April 1, 2010
    Background: Etienne De Jonghe's career has focused on working for world peace. He was Secretary General of Pax Christi International for nearly 30 years. (Pax Christi is a Catholic international peace movement, autonomous with respect to church authorities with a very strong lay input. Its international secretariat is currently located in Brussels.) In the first part of the interview, De Jonghe reflects on the evolution of Pax Christi over the years and his role in guiding and shaping the...
  • November 25, 2009
    Background: The context for this discussion was in preparation for a consultation on faith and development in Asia held in Phnom Penh Cambodia December 14-15 2009. It was an endeavor of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, with support from the Luce Foundation, and the University of Cambodia. The event took stock of the wide range of ongoing work by different organizations that are, in varying ways,...
  • October 29, 2009
    Background: In 1999 Robert A. Seiple became the first US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (IRF). Responsible for establishing the new post within the Department of State, Seiple and the IRF initiative were not always eagerly received at home or abroad. Interviewed by the Berkley Center's Thomas Farr on October 28, 2009, Seiple muses about how his Christian beliefs and life experiences prepared him for this job, why he took it, how it challenged him personally and...
  • August 21, 2009
    Background: Dr. Gerlinda Lucas is serving in Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE as Deputy Director of Administration. Her main role is monitoring and evaluating the HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria program of the hospital that is funded by Global Fund. She also took part in launching a community outreach project through a mobile clinic, currently providing basic primary health care and health education to most depressed area in Phnom Penh. In the past, Dr. Lucas served as Medical Project Supervisor in...
  • May 3, 2009
    Background: In 1992, Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, an Anglican priest in Uganda, became the first African religious leader to openly admit to being HIV-positive. Following his disclosure to the public, he began to speak widely to other leaders about the need to reduce stigma associated with the disease. In 2000 he founded the Africa Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS. In the following discussion between Rev. Byamugisha and Thomas Bohnett, he describes...
  • April 8, 2009
    Background: In this discussion, Ruth Messinger, President of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), talks about her long career in New York City politics and her transition in the late 1990s to the top post of AJWS. Messinger describes AJWS' support for hundreds of development projects around the world, all of them initiated at the grassroots by people from the communities that the projects serve. Because this interview was conducted soon after the Sudanese President Omar Bashir ordered...
  • June 23, 2008
    Background: This discussion between Welmoet Boender and Katherine Marshall took place by phone as part of preparation for a June 24, 2008 consultation at the ISS in The Hague on "Global Development and Faith-Inspired Organizations in Europe and Africa." In this exchange, Ms. Boender describes her work with the Knowledge Center, a collaborative project launched in 2006 by five Dutch faith-based organizations. She outlines the direction of her research, focused especially on Islam, and also...
  • June 13, 2008
    Background: Peter Grant has been the International Director of Tearfund, an organization which works to alleviate poverty and provide humanitarian relief in disaster situations, since 2005. Grant talked about his own faith background, and about the way in which Tearfund's evangelical Christian orientation influences its advocacy, hiring practices, and role in the development community. He spoke about the priority that Tearfund places on working with local churches, and raised some of the...
  • November 23, 2007
    Background: Dr. Hasan Ali Yurtsever is President of the Rumi Forum, an organization founded in 1999 to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and teaches in the Math department at Georgetown. He participated in the symposium on “Global Development and Faith-Inspired Organizations in the Muslim World,” co-sponsored by the Berkley Center, in December 2007. Yurtsever has a long history of participation in the Gulen Movement, which began in Turkey under Fethullah Gulen and has spread...
  • March 20, 2007
    Background: In the following discussion, Douglas Balfour, CEO of Geneva Global, describes the organization's mission to provide advice to donors seeking to maximize the impact of their contributions to development assistance. The backbone of Geneva Global's advice is its on-the-ground research, which often leads it to faith-inspired organizations, "often the best value in town.” He talks about how he has found fears of proselytization overblown by secular organizations and interests....