Turban Searches Enforced in Afghanistan as a Result of Turban Bombers

Afghanistan now strictly enforces a turban-searching rule at the presidential palace as a result of assassinations involving bombs hidden in turbans. Those killed on three separate occasions include, the head of Afganistan’s peace process, Kandahar’s senior cleric, and Kandahar’s mayor. These three killings took place over the short span of four months.

Most Afghan men are not satisfied with this new rule and find it deeply disturbing. Turbans have a special place in their religion, as well as a special place in the nation. The turbans are worn throughout the Muslim world because it is believed that the Prophet Muhammad wore one. Throughout Afghanistan there is a wide array of styles, colors, and materials to choose from, although, in terms of colors, most wear “subtle grays and charcoals, deep olive greens, lighter soft greens and browns.”

It is important to consider how the Afghans feel about those who are using the turbans to perpetuate violent acts. Many feel that the are trying to “defame the Afghan turbans and chase the Afghans from their ancient traditions and try to scare them into not wearing their turbans.” Some also feel that it is Americas fault. They argue that turban bombers and turban searches were never an issue until the Americans came around.

Although many seem very hostile towards the turban searches and turban bombers, others feel that “faith transcends costume.” They believe that even if you are not wearing a turban God will hear your prayers. They do however believe that it is “an honor to God to dress properly,” but God will accept your prayers regardless.

Are these turban searches justified considering the recent streak of assassinations? Is it America’s fault that these turban bombers have come into existence?

Source: The New York Times


  1. I think that the searches are justified. The fact that people are continuing to hide bombs under their turbans shows that this is not a one-time problem or something that will just go away. And, while I understand that the turban has special meaning, the fact is, it is being used to kill people. A small inconvenience that could save lives, seems worthwhile to me. And really, what other alternative is there? Ban turbans completely?

    It also seems unfair to target anger over this towards the Americans. There would still be instability in the region regardless of our presence. And if it wasn’t bombs hidden in turbans, it would just be something else. The real bad guys here are the people who have chosen to take a religious symbol and use it for violence.

  2. When it comes down to it, civilian populations are forced to make sacrifices in order to ensure great security. There is no greater example of this than passing through an airport in the United States. Certainly if a Muslim man wanted to board a commercial flight, he would have to remove his turban in order to pass through the security screening. Muslims would not be singled out for this either; likewise an Orthodox Jewish man would similarly be asked to remove his yarmulke. Given the protections America has in place for a person’s right to practice his/her religion, surely far more than exist in Afghanistan, it seems completely reasonable for Afghanistan to subject men to remove their turbans to search for bombs if the want to enter the Presidential Palace. The United States would expect nothing less for a person entering the White House. Especially given the recent string of assassinations, the Afghan government is justified in requiring the removal of turbans and subjecting them to search for a person entering the Presidential Palace. It doesn’t sound like they are forbidding the turbans from being worn in the Palace, they are only imposing the temporary removal for the purpose of the search. While many Americans empathize with such an inconvenience, they would completely understand the imposition and would expect nothing less at potentially sensitive targets for terrorist attacks.

  3. Since bombs are being hidden in turbans, the turbans must be searched. Unfortunately, safety concerns dictate that clothing of religious significance must be intruded into in order to maintain safety. Security and privacy interests must be weighed, and it seems here that security interests prevail. There is not simply a threat that bombs will be hidden in turbans, but this has actually occurred. The possibility of another bomb being hidden in a turban is a real one and therefore must be taken seriously by Afghan security forces. In order to maintain safety and order, they have no choice but to search turbans.
    The United States is not to blame for the turban searching, but rather the terrorists that are using a garment of religious significance to conceal murder weapons are. Should the United States be blamed for turban searching because they freed the Afghan people from the oppressive rule of the Taliban? Aren’t the people in Afghanistan in fact much better off now than they were before?

  4. Given the severity of the security situation in Afghanistan, I believe the Afghanis are left with no choice but to enforce measures like the turban-searching rule. Preserving life and safety takes precedent over the inconvenience of individuals and even the potential offensiveness associated with ensuring safety.

    Nevertheless, the Afghanis are not justified in using the concept of ensuring security as a veil to further unrelated, possibly antagonistic, measures. The exigencies of the situation should help determine whether or not a security measure is reasonable and meets the necessities of the situation, or if a measure has gone too far, and moved into the realm of the unrelated or unreasonable.

    My sense is that the turban-searching rule is reasonable and necessary given the exigencies of the situation. As some of my other colleagues have noted, it is not as if the Afghanis are preventing individuals from wearing turbans in the palace. Rather, they are requiring those who wish to wear turbans to submit to a search because on multiple occasions individuals have successfully detonated bombs hidden in their turbans.

  5. It is an unfortunate fact of the world we live in that bombs with extreme potency can be manufactured to be hidden inside of a turban. As a result, it is understandable that a security-measure involving turban searching is now being implemented. The safety and security of public citizens must come first. It appears that this security protocol is being implemented only in the presidential palace. Essentially, those who are not interested in having their turban searched can choose not to attend the palace. In my opinion, it is a minor inconvenience to ensure the safety of others.

  6. Unfortunately, I have to agree that the turbin searches are necessary. Safety is a number one priority and the misuse of the religious garment is breach of safety. I agree with th others who have posted that not allowing the turbins to be worn at all would be too far, but simply requiring them to be serached to me is good common sense. In fact I think it would be down right negligent not too, given the situation.

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