This guide is
designed to help teachers and parents better explore the contents of
this special section and use it in discussions regarding the growing
conflict in Afghanistan.
1. After reading about the issues that have contributed to the
tensions between the West and many Middle Eastern countries
(specifically, issues involving U.S. policies, religion, Israel and
Western culture), discuss why you think such conflicts occur. Why do
you think some issues escalate from differences of opinion to
conflict and war?
Questions on Islam and
2. Historian Karen Armstrong writes that fundamentalists are
usually radical in their interpretation of religion. What does it
mean to be a "religious radical?" Can you think of other
examples of religious radicalism — by Christians, Muslims or Jews?
What happens when radicals use religion to justify violence?
3. Christianity, Judaism and Islam share sacred texts. Why have
different religions developed around the world? Reading over the
Islamic articles of faith, can you identify beliefs that Muslims
share with Christians and Jews? What are the main ways that they
differ? In what things do the Taliban believe?
4. The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has deeply
affected the lives of the people of that region. What actions and
religious beliefs have led to the continuation of the strife between
these two peoples? What do you think it would take to bring peace to
this region? Should Palestinians have their own homeland?
5. How do we usually resolve conflict here at home? When two
neighbors have a dispute, how do they resolve it? How do families?
Companies? States? What are the first steps that we take to resolve
conflicts in our homes and communities? What role does compromise
Activity: Take some time to look through the newspaper to
identify everyday conflicts and the many ways that people work
through them. When conflicts are resolved, what tools did the
parties involved use? What are the qualities of a good negotiator?
What happens when conflict negotiations fail? Can you find conflicts
that no one has tried to resolve? What happens then, when disputes
are left to fester?
Questions on Afghanistan and the region
1. Look over the large regional map of the Middle East and
Southwest Asia. With which countries does Afghanistan share a
border? With which country does it share its longest border?
2. Using the topographical map, locate Afghanistan's different
regions. Where are there mountains? Where are there deserts? Think
about the difference between the mountainous regions and the deserts
here in the United States. What kind of extremes in weather occur in
Activity: There are many different kinds of people living
in this area. Look in The Seattle Times, magazines and on the
Internet for photographs of the different cultural groups that live
in Afghanistan and surrounding countries. Collect them and attach
photographs of these people to the region where they live on your
Questions about turbans and veils
1. Have you seen men wearing turbans here in Washington? How
about women wearing veils? Talk about your first impressions of
turban-wearing men or veil-wearing women. Did you have any
preconceived notions about these men or women?
2. What are the reasons that men wear turbans? Think about your
own clothing, shoes or hats. Do you ever wear these things for any
of the same reasons?
3. Have you ever worn a piece of clothing to identify yourself
with a group, a school or with a team? What are you trying to say
with your clothes? What do you think the people of Afghanistan would
think about your clothes if you were to walk down the streets of the
capital city of Kabul tonight?
Activity: Imagine you are responsible for explaining the
different kinds of turbans or veils to the people of the Pacific
Northwest. Design an ad campaign that would accomplish this. Create
a billboard, a newspaper ad and a television or radio spot that
helps people understand turbans better.
1. In the midst of all the bad news, there has been good news as
well. Stories about heroes or generosity or community spirit. Look
for a hopeful and uplifting story in the news today. Read it aloud
to someone you care about. What is their reaction to this story?
Write or talk about why you think these stories are important enough
to appear in the newspaper.
2. Many powerful photos and graphics have appeared in the news in
the last month and a few are reprinted here. Pick your favorite
photo or graphic. Write a headline for the photo or graphic that
reflects your own feelings and your creativity. Write a short story,
poem or article based on the photo. Share them both with your class
or with your family.
3. Surprise is startling and unsettling to people. Since the
attacks on Sept.11 shocked Americans, there has been much talk of
actions to prevent these things from happening again. Look in the
news for articles that talk about such actions and make a list.
Discuss with your family or classmates which of these actions you
think are worthwhile and which are troublesome to you. If they are
troublesome, what are alternative actions you would take? Make an
outline of how you would undertake these actions. How can you
communicate these alternative ideas to the appropriate people?