Rory Stewart’s trek across Afghanistan allowed him to meet some colourful characters.  Here he questions one of them to understand why he took up arms, first against the Russians and then against the Taliban.

It boiled down to fending off unwelcome interference in the choice of head-gear for the women in his family, and in the equally unacceptable requisitioning of his donkeys.


‘Why did you become a Mujahid?’ I asked Seyyed Umar.

‘Because the Russian government stopped my women from wearing head-scarves and confiscated my donkeys.’

‘And why did you fight the Taliban?’

‘Because they forced my women to wear burqas, not head-scarves, and stole my donkeys.’

It seems that if the government did not interfere with his women’s headdress and his donkeys he would not oppose it.


Source: Rory Stewart, The Places in Between (London: Picador, 2014), p. 167

Photo credit: ArmyAmber at pixabay


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