From the Book
RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War
By William T. Hathaway
Published by TrineDay
Jamal Khan is an Afghan journalist who fled his country because of Taliban persecution and now lives in Germany. We met in the apartment of a mutual friend from the Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft, the German Peace Society. Jamal is mid-forties, thin, with curly brown hair, tan skin, and clear green eyes that take everything in. We spoke in German, then later reworked the interview from my English translation.
Hathaway: "Do you miss your country?"
Khan: "Only when I'm drunk, which isn't very often. Then I get stupidly sentimental.
"Actually I'm not a big fan of any country. They're all inhuman. They exist mainly as platforms for power. The rulers promote cultural rituals that make people identify with the place they live. Then they manipulate the people's patriotic emotions to get them to fight wars for them. We cling to the identification because it gives us a sense of security, of belonging to something greater. But the insecurity we feel is actually generated by the power the rulers have over us.
"Nationalism is really a mental illness. Breaking the hold these national identities have on us would be an enormous improvement for the world.
"Afghanistan has the same patriotic crap, the fatherland, hierarchies of male power. So I don't miss it. But every day I miss my family and friends there."
"What did the Taliban do to you that made you leave?"
"Threatened to kill me. That was enough."
"Was that because you're gay?"
"No." Jamal lit a cigarette and gave me an irritated look. "Not everything about a person revolves around their sexuality, you know. The Taliban didn't know I was gay. I was discreet about that. They threatened to kill me because I'm a journalist and I ridiculed them in my articles. They actually did kill the newspaper editor. After that I left.
"But yes, it's much easier to be gay in Europe than in Afghanistan, and that's another reason I'm glad to be here."