"At home with the Taliban"

By Asra Nomani

Published October 16, 2001 10:03PM (EDT)

Read the story.

I'm so happy to learn that Mohammed Shaheen's second, younger wife is delighted with her marital arrangement. But what about the first wife, the older, "frail" one to whom Asra Nomani hardly spoke? Is she too, just giddy with joy? Or, because she isn't as fetching or appealing to the reporter as the second wife appears to be, doesn't it matter?

Sorry, but with every treacly, impressionistic dispatch that Ms. Nomani files, I feel a little bit more alienated from hardcore Islamic culture than I did before.

-- Natalie Angier

Please keep Ms. Nomani's articles coming. They give a much needed, insightful perspective on this part of the world and the cultures at the center of the conflicts.

-- Joachim P. Rosler

I think it is critical that we try to understand the Muslim culture in Afghanistan and their ways of life, but I can't imagine, after watching the documentary on Afghan women, "Behind the Veil" and reading such articles as one of your previous, "The Taliban's Bravest Opponents," that these women are content and feel protected and secure under the rule of the Taliban. I am not judging them out of my own feelings, but from the voices I've read and heard about of their own women. I just can't accept that they have the best interests of their women in mind. I find that to be an outright lie. I am sure the wives that were interviewed are content -- they are the ones living among the men in power -- what do they have to fear, and how could they possibly express their true concerns without possible consequences?

-- Carmen Gray

Who knows what factors fuel the thoughtless rage of terrorism? Certainly xenophobia is high on the list. It also may be the only thing on the list that's easy to eliminate --learning can defeat it. Congratulations to Asra Q. Nomani for taking a gentle-yet-bold first step towards meaningful understanding between diverse cultures. We need more work like it.

-- Henry Abbott

I was rather dismayed by Asra Nomani's depiction of Mohammad Sohail Shaheen. While I appreciate her attempt in previous installments to put a human face on the Afghan people and culture, her tea with Shaheen was disturbing. I'm sure Hitler was capable of charm and polite conversation. I never felt Nomani attempted to press Shaheen on the conduct of the Taliban, but rather seemed to wallow in the quaint charm of it all. Her depiction of Shaheen's treatment of his wives seemed to defend such treatment as misunderstood custom -- perhaps old-fashioned but well-intended -- rather than expose it for the repressive brutality it truly is. The rationalization Shaheen offered seemed to echo the claims of 19th century American slave owners who tried to persuade critics that slaves enjoyed the protection and perks provided by the plantations and their masters. Nomani's opportunity to press Shaheen on these compelling issues seemed squandered in banal niceties. What a disappointment.

-- Bob Grimes

Thank you for Nomani's voice in Pakistan. She is a courageous woman whose words I am glad to take in.

-- Carol Weis

Why in the world do you print such unmitigated rubbish?

-- Irving D. Cohen

By Salon Staff

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