Are Instagram influencers just peddling advertisements?

Companies are increasingly relying on influencers to affect young people’s purchasing behavior. But the boundaries between recommendation and covert advertising are becoming blurred says DW’s Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi.

Social Media - Instagram (picture alliance/dpa/T. Hase)

Rock-hard six-pack, firm backside, full lips and glossy hair: Everyone seems to look the same on the social media platform Instagram. Radiantly beautiful women and men, all of whom appear to be on a non-stop holiday in some exotic country, sipping brightly colored smoothies and casually showing off their luxury handbag or latest fast car. Continue reading

Refugees in Afghanistan caught between winter and war

As Germany claims Afghanistan is a safe country, deteriorating security is forcing people from their homes into harsh winter conditions. Aid organizations and the government seem unable to provide adequate assistance.

Afghanistan Flüchtlinge (DW/H. Sirat)

The year’s first snowfall has blanketed the Afghan capital Kabul, and while some people can enjoy the winter scenery, for refugees in the city, conditions have only become more miserable. Kabul’s tent cities and slums that provide emergency shelter to refugees, provide little defense against cold and moisture. There is also a lack of winter clothing and waterproof footwear, with many children wearing only sandals on otherwise bare feet. All of these factors are creating a high risk of infection.

“There are no hospitals here,” Khayr Mohammad, a refugee living with his family in a tent in east Kabul, told DW. Continue reading

The Taliban and China’s quest for Afghan copper

Instead of attacking development projects, the Taliban now claim that they want to support and even protect foreign investments in Afghanistan. A Chinese copper mining project could be revived soon.

Afghanistan Hairatan Ankunft Cargo Zug aus China (DW/H. Safi)

It sounds paradoxical: The Taliban want to support and encourage big infrastructure and development projects in Afghanistan. That’s the bottom line of an unexpected statement the insurgent group published on its website on Tuesday, November 29. For more than a decade, the militant Islamists have been dominating the headlines because of their frequent bomb attacks on infrastructure in Afghanistan.

According to the Kabul government, Taliban attacks have caused a damage worth more than $2 billion since the start of their fall offensive alone. So it was hardly surprising that the government’s reaction to this latest statement was reserved. “How could we trust them now?” Shah Hussain Murtazawi, a spokesman of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. “They have to prove their promises in action.” Continue reading

Mazar-i-Sharif attack proves no Afghan city is safe

Mazar-i-Sharif is considered one of Afghanistan’s safest cities. But the Taliban attack on a German consulate there has shocked locals. Severe damage to the area means the consulate will remain closed for several months.

Afghan security forces and NATO troops investigate at the site of explosion (Reuters/A. Usyan)

On the morning after the Thursday night Taliban attack on the German consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, locals were still trying to recover from the shock. The consulate building, severely damaged from the bombing, and the shattered windows of nearby houses were witnesses to the ferocity of the assault, which claimed the lives of four people and left 128 wounded.

The number of casualties could have been much higher had the militants attacked the consulate during the day, when the area is usually crowded with people. Continue reading

Displaced locals reluctant to return to Kunduz

Afghan troops have recaptured the northern city of Kunduz, but those who fled the fighting are still afraid to return to their homes. Most of them are living in nearby areas without basic facilities, waiting for help.

Afghanistan Flüchtlingslager in Kundus (Getty Images/AFP/S. Marai)

“The fighting has destroyed everything,” said Abdul Latif. Latif fled the fighting in Kunduz with his family to take refuge in the neighboring Mazar-e Sharif city.

“Kunduz has been burnt down. Many people have been killed or are injured. It was only with great difficulty that I was able to save my family from the war. Before fleeing, we were stuck in Kunduz for many days. There was no way out and there is no bread and drinking water in the city,” he told DW. Continue reading

The Afghans – A different perspective

German photographer Jens Umbach travelled to the north of Afghanistan to pay tribute to the people affected by the German military mission.Photo project The Afghans

The many faces of Mazar-i-Sharif

This old man is one of more than 100 Afghans that German photographer Jens Umbach has captured during his visits to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

To see all pictures please click here.

Is Afghanistan’s friendship with India imperiling security?

After a spate of recent deadly bombings, the Afghan capital Kabul still remains in shock. Experts believe Afghanistan’s increasingly close ties with India are a reason for the uptick in violence.

Afghanistan Selbstmordattentat in Kabul

“As soon as you step into the city you can sense that there is only fear and horror,” says Sirajuddin Yuldash, a resident of Kabul. “People are even scared of police cars and try to hide from them as soon as they see them to avoid the next suicide bombing, which can happen anytime.”

Violence has never been absent in the Afghan capital, and the recent incidents are just another episode of suicide attacks and bombings that have rocked the city. Still, the increasing brutality and high number of casualties have left many Afghans shaken. Continue reading

Afghan diaspora fears blowback in the US

The worst mass shooting in US history carried out recently in the city of Orlando by an Afghan-origin person shocked the Afghan diaspora, with many in the community feeling a sense of guilt and rejection.

USA Orlando Trauer nach Attentat

The aroma of savory kebabs grilled with a touch of fresh, Afghan bread is blowing through the nose. Afghans are eagerly shopping for the Iftar meal. But no, it’s not a city in Afghanistan.

It’s on the other side of the planet, in “Little Kabul,” as Fremont is called in California – home to the largest concentration of Afghan-Americans, followed by Vermont in northeastern US.

Otherwise a busy and bustling city, a dark mist seems to have engulfed Fremont over the past couple of days, with the terror attack in Orlando becoming the sole topic of conversation among the Afghan community here. The 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen, whose parents are from Afghanistan, also belongs to the diaspora. Continue reading

Appropriation of Sufi poet Rumi sparks outrage in Afghanistan

Where is Rumi from? Should his character be played by Leonardo di Caprio? These are the questions currently preoccupying Afghans and Iranians alike. Now even the Afghan government has waged into the debate.

Mawlana Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi

Everyone knows him. Everyone has heard his poems and it is very likely that they know a few by heart. Jalal al-Din Mohammad Balkhi, also known as Rumi, is one of the most famous poets and Sufi mystics in Persian-speaking countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.

But the 13th-century poet is currently a source of heated debates. Continue reading