Thursday, 27 January 2011

Part 2: John Mohammed - Across Borders

Continued from previous posting. Despite the descent into chaos, John Mohammed has decided to fight for his adopted culture.

"I saw the rural, religious Pashtun way of life I had come to love so much being diluted, contaminated and poisoned, in particular by arrivals from the Middle East," he says. "The way they practise Islam is very different to the tribal areas. They use money and influence to impose their own set of values." 

Peaceful Islam

In the early 1990s, John Mohammed joined the BBC World Service Pashto service and helped to set up New Home New Life, a now Iconic Afghan radio soap opera, known as The Archers of Afghanistan. Six years ago, he set up a radio station which broadcasts across the Afghan-Pakistan border and which tries to promote tribal traditions along with peace and reconciliation.

More recently, John has switched his attentions back to Afghanistan and is spearheading the formation of a new Islamic university in the predominantly Pashtun city of Jalalabad.

"It makes perfect sense. There is currently nowhere in Afghanistan where a young man can do higher Islamic studies. They go to Pakistan, where as we know some of them have become radicalised," he says, emphasising that his university will give a platform to moderates.

But this promotion of peaceful Islam has set him on a collision course with militants. His beloved Pakistan has now become too unsafe for him.

"Swat is a militarised zone and people I see as foreigners there now treat me like I'm the foreigner, even though I lived there for 40 years. It's hard to work out who is who any more - who is Taliban, who is criminal. The waters are very muddy."

Download the podcast from the BBC telling this remarkable story.

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