Heroes or Villains? - The Taliban

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What is a hero? What is a villain? Although definitions vary within our global society, it is generally accepted that a hero is selfless, humble, and moral and has integrity, while a villain is corrupt or evil, incapable of feeling guilt or compassion and is guilty of committing heinous crimes. However, it should be noted that the labels of ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ are subjective, and that, in the words of Sirius Black (the falsely incriminated godfather of the titular hero of the Harry Potter series) “… the world isn’t split into good people and [villains]. We’ve all got light and dark inside of us…” (Yates, 2007)

The Taliban are a group who were once perceived as heroes, by those who now label them as ‘villains’. The Taliban, whose name is derived from the Pashto word ‘tālibān’, meaning ‘students’, is a Pashtun (native Afghan) radical religious and political movement, who governed Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, after being removed from power by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). They were revived in 2004 as an insurgency movement, waging a guerrilla war against the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the allied NATO forces and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). As of 2009, the Taliban is led by Mullah Mohammed Omar. The Taliban is dedicated to implementing the “strictest interpretation[s] of Sharia law ever seen” (Rashid, 2000), the Sharia (Islamic) law as dictated by the Holy Koran, the sacred writings of Islam revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammed.

There are two different versions of how the Taliban came to exist. One version is that Mujahideen bandits raped and murdered Afghan boys and girls, sparking Mullah Omar and his students to vow to rid Afghanistan of criminals (Matinuddin, 19...

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...an Phenomenon: Afghanistan 1994-1997 Oxford: Oxford University Press (ISBN 0195792742), pp. 25-26

• Rashid, Ahmed (2000) Taliban (1st Pan ed.) London: Pan Books (ISBN 1850653607), pp. 25-29, p. 29, pp. 71-72, pp. 74-75, p. 107, p. 177

• Rowling, J.K. (2000) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire London: Bloomsbury Publishing (ISBN 0747550999), p. 456

• US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (2001) US Country Report on Human Rights Practices – Afghanistan http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/sa/8222.htm. Retrieved 03-11-09

• Waldman, Amy (22-11-2009). "No TV, no Chess, No Kites: Taliban's Code, from A to Z". The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/22/world/a-nation-challenged-the-law-no-tv-no-chess-no-kites-taliban-s-code-from-a-to-z.html. Retrieved 25-10-2009

• Yates, David (2007) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Warner Bros. Pictures

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