The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Afghans are not allowed to serve alcoholic drinks

Posted by vmsalama on November 10, 2007

I’ve been growing increasingly interested in Afghanistan lately – perhaps even as a destination for future assignments.  I recently stumbled upon this great blog called Afghan LORD and this particular entry written on August 2, 2007 struck a chord with me.  I experienced similar treatment in Egypt during Ramadan – a time when anyone Arab/Middle Eastern (Christian or Muslim) is not allowed to drink.  I would often accompany my fellow expats to the various bars and restaurants around Cairo, but during Ramadan, would be forced to carry my passport to prove I am an American citizen.  The bottom line is, it’s the law of the land – but I understand how frustrating the experience below must have been for him.  I can only assume that the situation may have improved slightly since the fall of the Taliban.  (Although let’s be honest, the Taliban are still very much a part of life in Afghanistan!)

Afghans are not allowed to serve alcoholic drinks


A few days ago I was invited by a friend of mine to have dinner together in one of the foreign Restaurants in Kabul. He met a German and an Afghan-German friend there. We installed ourselves at the table. After a while, my friend ordered two beers but unexpectedly a muscle-man appeared in front of us in a harsh tone and asked me for my passport. I told him that I am Afghan, precisely the land he is now in. He started talking strictly to me: You are not allowed to drink alcohol in this restaurant!

Why? I asked him

Because we are not allowed to serve you alcoholic drinks.

On my left hand, the Afghan-German, a doctor, had also been asked for his passport. He was angry about it. For a few seconds he quarreled with his German counterpart. As I understood it he was telling him: ‘this is my land, this is my land, no one has the right to ask me as an Afghan how I should behave about this.’ They finished quarreling, but I got tense. How is it possible that in your own country you don’t have your freedom. Not only for me but for all other Afghans, I thought.

Foreigners here have a lot of luxury facilities and expensive cars while outside of these restaurants hundreds of human beings are suffering on the streets, begging, asking for food. Some time foreigners are accompanied by a number of security guards, blocking the roads and driving over 100 miles/hour. Some, in very fashioned restaurants drink Champagne, smoking marijuana and narcotics. They are allowed to do so, but the Afghans are not allowed to enter, to drink, to spend time there. I am seeing that some of the foreigners only work for themselves, they brought facilities in here for themselves; not to help Afghans. They take the money they make back out of Afghanistan..

I feel frustrated when facing with such a phenomenon. No one seems to trust us. A considerable number of aid workers come to our land, but they can’t understand our feelings. It was so frustrating while the muscle-man rudely told me I am not allowed to drink. The way it happened also is a thing you would not do in our culture, even if we have different codes, which in need can be flexible also. These day there are dozens of foreign restaurants, hotels, discos and prostitution houses in Kabul, for the foreigners, who call themselves ‘ex pats’ (for ex-patriots).


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