Ministry of information and culture has banned the import and exhibition of The Kite Runner on the fear of social consequences. The film is based on the novel by Khalid Husseini about the troubled friendship of two Afghan boys. The kite runner offers an image of Afghanistan before the wars and has a personal touch of the friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy Pashtun, and Hassan, the Hazara son of Amir’s father’s servant. although, the kite runner is not much different than most other stories about Afghanistan. It’s about hardship and difficulties, it builds on the foundation that any afghan story could only be told by pain and disaster. But kite runner is different than most other popular stories about Afghanistan, it has a personal touch and it tells the story of fun and joy.
Apparently, ministry is concerned about a couple of controversial scenes in the film: first, Hassan is raped in an alley by a bunch of Pashtun bullies. Second, Hassan’s son, Sohrab, is later forced to perform an erotic dance by a Talib. Let’s break this down and try to analyse, I have heard from friends who remember the seventies that a rape case surfaced into the local papers around the same time that the story of the film is taking place. The rape became popular among Kabulis in late 1970s, after the government failed to respond. The raped boy decided to ravage and killed all the three attackers. Apparently the story had no ethnic profile. If the story is proven true then Khalid, the author, has not taken into consideration the events which were taking place around the same time as his story, or he has deliberately distorted the truth to make his story more exciting. I think both are fine. He never claims it’s the truth. It’s a fiction and artistic imagination of a writer. I am wondering, why is it so hard for minister of information and culture to understand that imagination and fiction is the basis of artistic recreation.
The other point I would like to make is about the erotic dance and the rape scene. Erotic dance is not something new for Afghanistan. It’s a part of afghan culture. If the minister of information and culture doesn’t know that then he shouldn’t be the minister of culture. Dear minister, here is a little cultural tutorial for you, walk out of your ministry and go to the DVD shop just across the street and ask for a ‘Raqsi Qataghani’. You’ll get a long range of choice. Which won’t be much different than what is portrait in the film, if not more erotic. The other controversial scene is the rape, the ministry could have provided copies with omitted rape scene; if concerned about family screening. Why is the ministry so scared of sex and sexual issues? You can’t avoid it, its part of human nature. Every Music and film shop in Afghanistan has a collection of pornographic movies. It’s a business and it won’t be stopped by ignoring the issue. The minister should become more cultural and try to address the issue of sex and pornography. If there is a need for something in a society, it’s better to regulate it instead of ignoring it. there is always the Taliban way of dealing with it, public execution or some other brutal punishment to convicts which possess or seek pornography. Minister Khuram and the Karzai government have the same attitude as Taliban but they can’t use the same method because their foreign backers won’t approve that.
Last but not least is the storyline, the ministry didn’t like it because it talks about friendship in the frame of ethnicity. Pashtoon rich and Hazara poor. This has been the truth and everybody know it. this is not the whole truth and all hazaras were not servants for pashtuns but some were. The story makes a generalisation. This is called the freedom to express your view. People see things differently and all should be told. minister Khuram your job is not to make sure everybody see the same thing. Its not going to happen. Taliban tried, I truly think their method was much effective. You won’t achieve it with your inefficient methods.
Kite runner offered many westerners a more settled way to look into Afghanistan. Its different than what they hear from media on daily basis. A lot of people I know in the UK showed more interest to Afghanistan and keen to learn more, keen to learn about personal stories of diasporas. But people like Khuram and Karzai and his Mullah allies are there to make sure that Afghanistan only reflect a fanatic face. If films and books like kite runner are banned, creative thinking is banned.