Peace Education

Afghanis and UPF-Netherlands Honor Massoud, Afghan National Hero

“Some people think of Afghanistan as being occupied by Western soldiers, but those boys are giving their lives for Afghanistan; a boy from America, Holland, France giving his life, we always admire him. Massoud could not be successful without the help of other Afghanis and the world, but he was abandoned. I wish he could be alive today, to see the world is now helping Afghanistan.”

 



So spoke Massoud Khalili, a brother in arms of the Afghan national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, himself a hero in his own right, and now Afghanistan's envoy to Turkey, in an address on September 14 in the VIP Lounge, Beverwijk, Netherlands, commemorating the death of Massoud, the "Lion of Panjshir," on September 9, 2001, just two days before 9/11, in an attack probably linked to the attacks in the US.

Khalili was also severely injured in the attack on Massoud and required extensive reconstructive surgery, but the man that addressed more than 650 Afghanis and friends who had traveled from all over Europe for this event radiated warmth and love that was returned to him tenfold by his enraptured listeners.

Khalili spoke mainly in his native language, Farsi, but he made his remarks of gratitude in English, at the request of Sayed Nezamuddin Taheri, Director of the Nasr Foundation, who, with his brother Sayed Ekramuddin Taheri, Secretary General of the foundation, had invited UPF-Netherlands Secretary General Wim Koetsier to attend this "Seventh Commemoration Ceremony of the Martyrdom of Ahmad Shah Massoud National Hero of Afghanistan."

The hall was decorated with many pictures of Massoud and bouquets of flowers. On the left was a screen showing film clips of Massoud, usually addressing his followers. He was always with his people, S.N. Taheri explained, and unlike most leaders, he always dressed and ate and lived like everyone else.

The meeting started with a traditional recitation from the Qurán by Qari Abdul Kabir Haidari, after which Shaikh Zakarya Kabuli, a tall dignified politician, praised Massoud for being steadfast against communism and terrorism and called upon Afghanis to take responsibility for building a new and united country.

Former Kabul University professor Abdul Rasoul Rahin testified to Massoud's love for books and care for Kabul University and its library. Ajmal Shinwari, of the Youth United Foundation, proclaimed that it was “because of the blood of our martyrs that we are free. Massoud united all people in Afghanistan and wanted to build one strong nation, that is why we love him and he is our national hero.”

Film clips of Massoud were shown between every speaker; in one, he said that while some might flee Afghanistan because of the difficulties, he would always stay (all too tragically true), which raised intense applause. It was clear that for the bulk of the audience Massoud was still vitally alive, not just as a theological concept or political icon, but in reality and in their hearts, as the ideal leader, friend, elder brother, even father, their admiration for him only surpassed by their love.

Additional speakers included M. Ikram Andishmand, who praised Massoud for facing challenges, striving to rebuild the country, and preparing for peaceful elections. Fereshta Hazrati, a journalist living in Sweden noted for her devotion to helping Afghani women, asserted that “If we Afghanis are really one nation, we could face the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and international terrorism together; but unfortunately, we are still divided in different tribes." Shaikh Mobayyin praised Massoud as a good Muslim, even calling for peace with his enemies.

The audience rose to its feet as the chairman invited Khalili to the stage. "Massoud was a great leader, a great strategist, a great politician, a great lover of peace, a great friend to his nation," he said, "and that is why his loss was a great loss ... for me, Massoud means everything.” Many stories about Massoud followed, the audience not wanting him to stop.

Afterwards, Wim Koetsier spoke appreciatively about the Afghan hero and then described the background of the Universal Peace Federation and its goal of building “One Family under God.” An Ambassador for Peace certificate in the name of Massoud was presented to Taheri, who responded, "This certificate shows respect not only for Ahmad Shah Massoud but for all of you and all who work and live for humanity."

Khalili was awarded a certificate for his continual work for peace, his people, and country. A third certificate was presented to Fereshta Hazrati for her work to establish democracy and human rights in her native land.

Ending the Ramadan fast, everyone enjoyed a traditional Afghan meal.
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Note: The Nasr Foundation is a partner in the Global Peace Festival in London in November.

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