Zieba Shorish-Shamley's Afghanistan doesn't exist anymore.
The tea and fresh fruit her Muslim family shared over laughter with their Jewish friends at home. The female lawmakers who spoke out in Afghanistan's parliament. The tourists who were so enchanted by Kabul, the country's cosmopolitan capital, they called it the "Paris of Central Asia."
When the Afghan native recently returned home, all of those childhood memories seemed like a mirage. What she saw instead was what many Americans now associate with Afghanistan: destruction.
"When I got off the plane, I cried my eyes out," she said. "Most of Kabul was destroyed."
Shorish-Shamley's memories represent a side of Afghanistan that's easily overlooked. As Afghans prepare to pick a president in their national election Thursday, much of the media has focused on pre-election violence. Afghanistan has often been portrayed as a barbaric country where warfare has been a way of life for centuries.
But not long ago, Afghanistan was something else: a politically stable, religiously moderate government that recognized women's rights, Afghan natives and scholars say.
Elizabeth Gould, co-author of "Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story," says a U.S. diplomat visiting Afghanistan in the early 1970s said its citizens were so passionate about democracy that he saw them debate their constitutional rights in the streets.
Filed under: Afghanistan
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