[lg policy] When Truth-Tellers Must Hide, Societies Collapse

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Apr 18 15:25:43 EDT 2019

When Truth-Tellers Must Hide, Societies Collapse

By Wahab Raofi <https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/author/wahab-raofi/> | Apr
16, 2019 | Asia Pacific
Culture <https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/category/topics/culture/>,
<https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/category/features/viewpoints/> | 0
[image: When Truth-Tellers Must Hide, Societies Collapse]
Mountains in Afghanistan (US Air Force/Public Domain

Nashenas, an Afghan who had to hide his identity to exercise his freedom of
speech, exemplifies the dangerous trend toward squelching free speech.
[image: The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Collection of Essays by Jeremy R.
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In his famous essay “Why I write,” George Orwell (1903-1950) revealed,
“When I sit down to write, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a
work of art.’ I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some
fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a

To follow the path of George Orwell requires courage and dedication, if one
wishes to dig out the truth. But sometimes, doing that can be costly.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Journalist, was assassinated in Turkey last year,
allegedly by Saudi authorities working at the behest of Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman. Hundreds of journalists have been kidnapped,
persecuted and even killed, like Khashoggi, simply for doing their jobs to
expose wrong-doing, human-rights violations, corruption or crimes that have
been covered up by governments or the powerful.

Consider the story of legendary Afghan singer Sadiq Fitrat, who adopted the
pseudonym *Nashenas* (which means *unknown*) to hide his identity, even
from his own family, because singers were relegated to the lower strata of

In his autobiography, *Nashenas Is No Longer Nashenas*, he writes that the
Pashto language is not as rich as Farsi, and *The Pata Khazana*(Hidden
Treasure) – a book purporting to contain Pashtu poems from the 11th century
— is a forgery. And Nashenas himself was Pashtun.

In an interview on BBC’s Pashto program, Nashenas said that the *Pata
Khazana* was written in 1944, not in the 11th century, as it had been
promoted by the Afghan government. Nashenas’ remarks touched a raw nerve
among his fellow Pashtuns inside and outside Afghanistan, but was welcomed
by non-Pashtuns, who took a “we told you so” attitude.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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