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Kabul's New Street Politics

Protests Signal a Dramatic Shift in Afghan Politics

Women chat slogans during a protest against the killing of seven people from the Hazara community, in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 2015. Omar Sobhani / Reuters

On November 11, tens of thousands of Afghan men and women filled the streets of Kabul to protest the killing of seven civilians in the southern province of Zabul. The photograph of a nine-year-old victim, a girl named Shukria, became a symbol of the kind of violence meted out by either Islamic State (ISIS) militants or the Taliban. Protesters quickly reproduced her image on banners and placards in demonstrations in other major towns. The Afghan diaspora mobilized as well, staging rallies in Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, the United States, and elsewhere.

The protests in Afghanistan—the largest popular demonstrations ever in the country—reflect a dramatic shift in Afghan politics. Inspired by many causes and ideologies, Afghans are mobilizing against their government on a scale that is unprecedented in the country’s history.

With the economy flagging and armed groups gaining power, public dissatisfaction with the Afghan government is on

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