Afghani Gambling Laws
By Reno Rollins
Gambling in Afghanistan is illegal. When the Taliban government took control of the country, they outlawed most forms of entertainment. Since gambling is forbidden by Islam, it was one of the first to be made illegal. During the Taliban reign, these laws were enforced by the Vice and Virtue police.
After the downfall of the Taliban government, gambling is still illegal, but the police force is not as likely to enforce the laws. While there are no casinos, popular pastimes such as quail fighting and kite fighting can be found all across the nation.
Afghanistan Kite Fighting
The objective of kite fighting is to cut the string of your opponent’s kite before he can cut yours. Very popular with the masses, many will wager as much as 600,000 Afghanis (equal to $5) per match.
Most matches take place on dirt fields on Friday afternoons, with the actual duels occurring as high as 400 feet in the air. Serious players spend hours strengthening their stings with a mixture of ground glass and glue, and many even wear gloves to protect their hands from the sharpened string.
Most kite teams are made up of two people. One holds the sting and controls the dips and swerves of the kite, while the other holds the spool so that the kite can quickly be pulled in or slackened.
Matches can last anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. When a string is finally cut, children scramble to tear it apart and collect a souvenir. Some have even rigged bamboo poles with barbed wire attached to try and snag the losing kites before they reach the ground.
Animal Fighting in Afghanistan
While dog and cock fighting take place, the most popular event of this type is quail fighting. A traditional Afghan pastime, especially in the capital of Kabul, two birds are placed in a circle and allowed to attack one another. The fights usually end when one bird runs away, and deaths are uncommon.
More Afghani Information
Located in the center of Asia, Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. Afghanistan is the 41st largest country in the world, and it is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas. Its name means the “Land of Afghans.”
While it is divided into 34 provinces, the only city with more than a million residents is the capital of Kabul. Other major cities include Herat, Mazar-e, Sharif, Ghazni, Kunduz, Jalalabad and Kandahar.
The official languages of the country are Persian and Pashto. Other spoken languages include Hazaragi, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Nuristani, Pashai, Brahui, Pamiri and Hindko. It is not uncommon for residents of Afghanistan to speak more than one language.
Over 99% percent of citizens are Muslim. Of those, nearly 80% are Sunni, with a smaller percentage being Shi’a.
Afghanistan has suffered through periods of war since the 1970s. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded the country in a military effort which lasted 10 years, then there was the US-led invasion in 2001 to oust the Taliban. NATO troops are currently stationed in the country, helping to establish order and rebuild key infrastructure. The United States has committed billions of dollars towards the reconstruction of the country.
The country continues to struggle with issues of unexploded land mines, poverty, poor infrastructure and an illegal opium trade. There is still occasional Taliban insurgency, and the average citizen lives on less than 2 U.S. dollars per day. From 1998 until 2001, a severe drought also ravaged the country.
The national sport of the country is Buzkashi. It is similar to polo in that two teams of horsemen play, but it differs in that each team is trying to grab and hold a goat carcass.
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