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Financial Precarity Generates Dissidence Among Young Afghans

In our first newsletter, Shuaib shares the news from Afghanistan you might have missed...

It was a hot Friday afternoon two weeks ago in Mazar-e-Sharif when I saw my friend Fayaz walking furiously towards me from Ibrahim Khalil mosque. The reason for his angry face, red with rage and glistening with perspiration was the changes to the rules in his mosque.


  • Every day families must bring food for the Imam

  • Every family must pay 200 Afghanis ($2.20) monthly to the Imam

People have always contributed to their local mosques (maintenance work, paying the bills, distributing alms and so on) but for the past three months, mosques and imams have become a revenue stream for the Taliban. The political usage of mosques is nothing new, but using them to generate money for soldiers, political propaganda, and to make the Taliban more financially stable – this is a new phenomenon.

It’s also why so many young people, including myself, have stopped attending religious ceremonies in mosques. Afghanistan’s younger generation is already struggling with unstable economic conditions. Paying an excessive amount to mosques which provide no social, political or economic service in return is unbearable for us.

Even more damagingly, supported by the Taliban, mosques are putting pressure on us to pay up, branding young people with the name of ‘secular’ or Kafir if we do not. Though people in Afghanistan rarely hold such beliefs, the pressure from the Taliban and mosques mixed with economic pressure is inadvertently pushing people closer to certain secular beliefs.

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