When was the last time you heard of the U.S. Army building a church, or a synagogue? What’s that? A wall of separation? Well, the wall is down in Afghanistan, where a plaque in front of one mosque proclaims: “Matachina mosque, reconstructed in 2002… with the help of the American people.” From AFP, with thanks to Daniel Pipes:
“Matachina Madrassa” reads a rusty, battered metal plaque. A metre away is a brand-new stone on which is written in fresh lettering: “Matachina mosque, reconstructed in 2002… with the help of the American people.”
On November 16, 2001, during the heat of the US-led war against the Taliban regime, at least 34 people lost their lives here. The dead included fighters but also religious students, women and children, killed during the bombardment of this Islamic school and mosque in the suburbs of Khost.
The building has since been reconstructed almost identically with the financial support of the United States army.
Some rubble and a toppled brick wall are the only evidence of the bombing.
And a new mosque has been rebuilt on the site of the carnage. A wooden door, decorated with Arabic writing, opens on to a large, empty vault. Inside, a painted niche indicates the direction of the holy city of Mecca, towards which the faithful pray.
An already dusty plastic floor covering sits between the imposing stone pillars supporting the building. The only exaggerated decoration in this spartan decor is a made-in-China plastic gold clock fixed high on the wall.
Nobody ever comes
“Nobody ever comes into this mosque, what are you doing here,” asks a soldier from a neighbouring garrison.
The mosque’s guard lives just metres from the building, in a mud-brick home. The door is padlocked shut. “The man has gone to pray in another mosque.”
The new Matachina mosque is almost always empty. Hardly refinished, it is already abandoned as the faithful prefer to pray elsewhere.
So the American taxpayers financed a mosque in Afghanistan as a gesture of good will, and nobody goes to it anyway. I hope the Army will henceforth stay out of the mosque-building business.