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After Karzai Speech, Afghans Call Out U.S. Journo's Analysis on Twitter

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 14 2013

Hamid Karzai at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos (image: World Economic Forum/Flickr)

A Daily Beast article that was critical of Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier this week has sparked social media backlash from Afghans, who say that the American author glossed over real political conditions in the country for the sake of an inflammatory argument. 

In a speech last week, following a first visit to the country from newly appointed United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the president of Afghanistan blamed recent Taliban bombings on US interests, claiming that they “were in the service of the Americans to keep foreigners longer in Afghanistan.” 

Leslie H. Gelb's article “To Hell with Karzai,” was posted Tuesday in response to the remarks.  Railing against Karzai’s rhetoric, Gelb speculated that it could have been a political move, intended to net votes in next year’s election from “non-Pashtuns, who make up around 60 percent of the Afghan people,” as opposed to the Pashtun ethnic group in the country, who he stated were largely Taliban supporters. 

Afghan Twitter users took offense to this oversimplification of their country’s ethnic makeup.  Aljazeera posted a Storify on Wednesday with reactions to the article.  Many users said that his claims exaggerated the tensions between Pashtuns and minority ethnic groups in Afghanistan. 

Backlash to the article has been circulating at the hashtag #EvacuateTheWomen, a sardonic reference to sympathy expressed by Gelb to Afghan women.  “I wish we could evacuate all of those who wish to flee their mistreatment and enslavement,” he said in the article. 

Afghan women were quick to shut down the narrative of the American liberators.  “Lets [sic] #EvacuateTheWomen because Afghan women are endangered species according to Leslie Gelb,” tweeted BBC Pashto columnist Peymana Assad.

Deutsche-Welle editor Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi added, “After hours of investigative research @TheDailyBeast style, we found out what the "H" in Leslie H. Gelb means: Harami” – a term denoting “forbidden” in Islamic teaching. 

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