Mohammad Wazir Razi “Kabuli”, now about 52, was very young when the Soviet Army invaded his country. But his memory of what followed in the years after is impeccable.
“I was in grade six and everything changed overnight, our school, our neighbourhood. The Soviets hadn’t just invaded the country, they invaded our culture and religion too,” he recalled.
“They imposed the national anthem on us, they made young boys forcefully attend pro-Soviet meetings and join national marches. They even tried to stop people from praying and attending religious events,” he told Al Jazeera.
The Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to support a communist government that was facing internal threats.
The largely Muslim population did not welcome a Russian intervention in support of an already unpopular regime.
‘They jailed hundreds of people’
Armed Afghan fighters, labelled the mujahideen, launched a rebellion against the superpower that resulted in a decade of bloodshed and destruction.
For Kabuli, the horrors of the invasion came too close to home. As a family of religious scholars, they faced persecution from the Soviet-supported communist regime.
“They targeted not just the young men, but also women, children and the elderly. They tortured religious leaders, removed their nails. They jailed hundreds of people,” he said.
Witnessing the suffering of those around him convinced Kabuli it was his duty to join and fight the Russians, and at a very young age, he left school to help the fighters.
“Being young, I was mostly given logistical responsibilities and in the few battles that I did participate, I was given the role of a nurse to provide first aid to the injured,” he said.
“In the end, after nine years of fighting, we won. We defeated the Soviets, with few resources. And today, we celebrate that victory of Islam against the communists,” he added with pride.
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