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What Trump Didn’t Know About Herat When He Barred Robotics Students From Visiting the U.S.

Posted on Jul 2, 2017

By Juan Cole / Informed Comment

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, has denied visas to six Afghan high school students from the city of Herat to accompany their invention in robotics to the United States for a demonstration.  The girls made the 500 mile journey from the western city to the capital of Kabul to apply for visitor visas.  They were rejected.

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Their project, however, was accepted by First Global Challenge, which organizes events for teenage high school students.

We do not know on what grounds they were turned down by the U.S., but [...] White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has implemented “extreme vetting” for visas for Muslims.  Afghanistan is one of six Muslim-majority countries from which Bannon has successfully barred residents’ travel to the U.S. under most circumstances.

Here are some things that Bannon and Trump do not know about Herat:

1.  The people of Herat are for the most part speakers of Persian and they have been bulwarks against terrorism.  They rejected the Taliban (a movement that appeals to Pashto-speakers).  They rejected ISIL (Daesh, ISIS). 


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2.  Herat is an ancient city.  Herodotus called it the breadbasket of Central Asia.

3.  Herat is one of the world’s great cities, which made important contributions architecture and science. 

4.  Fakhr al-Din Razi (d. 1290), from Herat, wrote on logic and philosophy as well as on: medicine, astrology, geometry, physiognomy, mineralogy, and grammar.

5.  Sa`d al-Din Taftazani (d. 1390) wrote four important books on logic and influenced the founder of sociology, Ibn Khaldun.

6.  The great Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jami (d. 1412) hailed from Herat.  Among his sayings, which Trump should study:

“Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.”

“Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.”

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