Torn between two cultures: Afghans in Europe

Most international troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of next year. Many Afghans fear the Taliban may return once foreign troops pull out.


Senin, 19 Agus 2013 13:26 WIB

Torn between two cultures: Afghans in Europe

Afghans in Europe, Afghans living abroad, Afghanistan diaspora

Most international troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of next year, but road-side bombs and attacks by the Taliban are an ever-present danger.

Many Afghans fear the Taliban may return once foreign troops pull out.

And this could mean that many flee their homeland in search of a better life elsewhere.

25-year-old Waslat Hasrat Nazimi has been living in Germany for the past 20 years.  Her parents decided to leave Afghanistan to escape the civil war in the 1990s.

Now a prominent journalist in the German media, she says she had witnessed an influx of immigrants from her homeland to Europe.

“You have the first generation who came here and left their homeland and have never got over the fact that they’ve left behind all the prestige and opportunities that they had there. They left everything because of the security situation. Then you have the young generation, who I think are torn between German and Afghan cultures. They’re struggling to find a way between the two, and for most of them it’s hard – they’re neither Afghans nor Germans.”

Waslat’s parents were educated and lucky enough to enter Europe legally. But a large number of Afghans risk their lives crossing borders illegally... through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece.

24-year-old Baryalai Arghousi is a classic example of an illegal immigrant. He has been living in an asylum seekers’ dormitory for 6 years, with a basic stipend from the German government.

He’s still waiting for his asylum request to be granted.

“'I take three sleeping pills everynight so I can sleep well,” says Baryalai,”If I still can’t sleep, I take anti-depressant pills. This is life in Europe. In my homeland, I don’t remember ever taking a pain killer... but here I am living on them now.”

It’s estimated that there are over 100 thousand Afghans in Germany alone.

The Afghan community organises poetry and music festivals each year to stay in touch with their roots and introduce their native culture to the younger generation.

But being thousands of miles away from home... makes it difficult to preserve their identity. Many young Afghans have embraced Western culture and can no longer speak their native language.

Linguistic expert Pekhawry Shinvari regularly organises Pashto language classes for Afghans in Germany.... but nobody has turned up for today’s class.

“As the great Pashtun poet Khushal Khan once said, Pashtuns are like a wall of rigid stones. No matter how hard you try to straighten it, it’s hard for Afghans to do things differently. I keep asking parents to send their children to the free Pashtu classes... but they don’t take it seriously. But I won’t give up.”

ALSO READ: A Passage to India, Europe Style

On the cricket field, Muhammad Assad is the only Afghan to be selected for Germany’s national cricket team this year. He has inspired many young Afghans living abroad...

“Many Afghans have been inspired by me and have started playing  cricket,,,forming their own club. I’m still studying in high school and my aim is to get a good education.”

Rahimullah Faqir is 29 years old and has been living in Germany for the past 6 years. He sells electronic goods at an open market... and he misses home a lot.

“Homeland is homeland. You can’t make a life for yourself here... even if you go to the best countries in the world. But we are here now, we have to face up to all the cultural and social challenges.”

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