NATO troops in Afghanistan try to adapt to local culture

ISAF soldiers in Afghanistan have been distributed with information cards on Ramadan, a major festival for Muslims, to better understand and respect local religion and culture, said a spokesman of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Sunday.

Every ISAF solider in this Islamic country has been given a plastic "2006 Ramadan - ISAF soldier smart card", which tells knowledge of Ramadan and the "Do's and Don'ts" in this festival, Euan Downie told Xinhua.

"We want to make soldiers know the importance of Ramadan to locals, and be sensitive to their needs and customs," he said.

Ramadan, which lasts from the evening of Sept. 23 to the evening of Oct. 22 this year, is a month-long period of fasting held from sunrise to sunset during the ninth month of the Islamic Year.

"Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship," the card says.

It also says "Do remain especially sensitive of Islamic cultural practices during the month of Ramadan. Don't eat, drink, chew gum or tobacco in the presence of Afghans (or other Muslims) during the day."

According to the card, ISAF soldiers shouldn't enter mosques " unless it is an absolute operational requirement," and should " avoid planning meetings with Afghans in the afternoon unless the issue is urgent."

About 21,000 ISAF troops are being deployed throughout this country except the eastern region to fight anti-government militants and facilitate reconstruction.

Source: Xinhua



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