Sunday 12 January 2003
November 28, 2002
Monuments Of Herat, Afghanistan's Ancient Cultural Capital, In Danger Of Destruction
In 1933, travel writer Robert Byron called the towering minarets of the western Afghan city of Herat "the most beautiful example of color in architecture ever devised by man to the glory of his god and himself." Today, the minarets and monuments of this ancient center of culture and learning cast but a faint shadow of their former selves. Earthquakes, wars, wind, and water have taken a disastrous toll. But as RFE/RL correspondent Grant Podelco discovered on a recent visit to Herat, efforts are under way by the Afghan government and the United Nations to save these celebrated treasures.
November 27, 2002
'Kept In A Cage' -- Citizens Of Herat Describe Life Under Ismail Khan
For centuries, the western Afghan city of Herat has been known as a center for art, literature, and learning. Today, however, the city is more closely associated with the iron-fisted rule of its governor, the self-styled "Emir of Herat," Ismail Khan. RFE/RL correspondent Grant Podelco just returned from a visit to Herat. He discovered a city more outwardly civil than the capital, Kabul, but one that on closer inspection is governed by a palpable climate of fear, an atmosphere only exacerbated by the publication this month of a damning report on the province's human rights record.
November 15, 2002
Artistry In The Air -- Kite Flying Is Taken To New Heights In Afghanistan
Kite flying is more than a pastime in Afghanistan -- it is a national obsession. The streets of the capital, Kabul, are filled with shops selling kite-flying equipment, and the skies above the city are decorated each day with hundreds of colorful kites fluttering in the wind. Banned by the Taliban as un-Islamic, kite flying has now hit new heights of popularity in the country.
November 13, 2002
Tensions Ease At Kabul University, But Grievances Remain
Tensions at Kabul University have eased after three days of student protests over poor living conditions that resulted in the deaths of at least two students. Students are returning to classes, although security on campus is still tight, and many roads leading to the university remain blocked by police. Afghanistan's minister of higher education blames extremist groups on campus for the protests but says the grievances of students will be addressed. RFE/RL correspondent Grant Podelco visited the university's dormitory and spoke with a group of 16 students all living in one room in squalid conditions.
November 12, 2002
One Year Later, Kabul Clan's Journey From 'Unluckiest People' To Happiest Family
A well-known tourist guidebook to the Afghan capital, first published in 1965, notes "cities like Kabul change a little every day." That comment is as outdated today as the city tours it recommends, of gardens and palaces and restaurants that no longer exist. Kabul has changed in the 12 months since the Taliban regime abandoned the city -- and in great leaps, not small steps. Girls are now attending school. Women are free to work and to show their faces on the city streets. Music can be heard again, and kites dance once more in the skies. RFE/RL correspondent Grant Podelco recently spent a morning in the Kabul home of an Afghan family of eight. They described the dramatic changes that have taken place in their lives and in the city during the past year.