Conflicts & War

Allahu Akbar! How Afghans seized Taliban’s Islamic slogan to rally for peace

By Baber Khan Sahel

Kabul, Aug 13 (EFE).- Anti-Taliban rallies, which first erupted in Herat, have spread to other Afghan provinces as people chant Allahu Akbar (Allah is the greatest) to defy the insurgents, who used the Islamo-Arabic phrase as a war cry in their military campaign against foreign troops.

Loud chants of “Allahu Akbar” are now echoing across the country in the revival of one of the most influential religious slogans that had become intertwined with terrorism because Islamist extremists worldwide used it in their violent campaign.

The Afghans first used the slogan in Herat earlier this month as they took to their rooftops and the streets in defiance of the Taliban and in support of the government forces.

A similar rally in the capital followed after Taliban suicide attackers exploded a car bomb outside the house of Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Muhammadi.

Videos of the uprising movement by the people soon flooded the social media after residents took to the streets.

“Allahu Akbar” cries rented the air in Kabul with protesters implying that the utterance was not synonymous with extremism and violence.

Among them was Jawad Yusufzai, 24.

“We shouted Allahu Akbar so loudly around the site of the attack that our cries completely overshadowed the sound of the guns,” Jawad told EFE.

“We showed our voice is stronger and louder than the sound of the bullets and bombs.”

“Allahu Akbar” is the first phrase of the Muslim call for prayers. Muslims use it while praying and in several contexts in their daily lives.

The Afghans believe that the slogan became more popular during their war in defeating the British in the 19th century and Soviet forces in the 20th century.

“Our fathers and grandfathers used the slogan when they fought the British and the Soviets,” Qais Roman, 27, another Kabul protester, told EFE.

“Now we use it against the invasion of the Taliban to support our security forces, who sacrifice their lives for our peace,” Roman said.

The pan-Afghan “Allahu Akbar” rallies prompted Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid to say that the slogan belonged to them and “not to the American slaves and secularists.”

“We will hold the slaves accountable for the sake of god.”

But the Afghans generally are not ready to succumb to the Taliban threats.

“For two decades, the Taliban misused the peaceful slogan to shed blood, bomb infrastructure and destroy the roads,” Timor Khan, another Kabul resident, told EFE.

“We will no-longer let them misuse it. Every time we chant Allahu Akbar, we say no to the Taliban atrocities and violence,” Khan said.

Safiullah Mullakhil, a political analyst with the Rana think-tank, said the slogan was a vital part of every victory and defeat for the Afghans.

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