KABUL: The Meshrano Jirga, or upper house of parliament, on Tuesday opposed an Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) proposal about a home for the elderly and said the idea was in conflict with Afghan traditions and Islamic principles.

The ARCS plans to build a care centre for the elderly Afghan men and women in Kabul. The project, a relatively new initiative in the deeply conservative country, is to be completed in a year.

Minority member Anarkali Honaryar denounced the centre as a Western idea that was inconsistent with the Afghan traditions. “If ARCS wants to assist the needy Afghans, there are others ways of doing so. But there is no need for such a home.”

Mohammad Daud Ihsas, a senator from southern Zabul province, slammed the proposed centre as a cultural invasion of Afghanistan. He asked the humanitarian organisation to help the mentally-challenged individuals and child labourers.

He added the Afghans had a lot of respect for their elders, who they would never allow to live away from their homes. Proponents of the idea should be prosecuted, he demanded.

Islam is pretty clear on dealing with the elderly and its principles guarantee human dignity and prosperity, according to Maulvi Abdul Wahab, a legislator from northern Takhar province. He also said the suggestion was violative of Islamic teachings.

“Islam doesn’t allow its followers to say even oof to their parents. It says paradise is under the mother’s feet. How Muslims can send their parents to such a centre,” the lawmaker asked.

Deputy Chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who chaired the session, said the house was averse to the creation of the proposed home. “Its construction will run counter to the Afghan culture. We should thwart it so that our culture isn’t altered.”

ARCS head Fatima Gilani would be summoned to the next session of the house to brief senators on the issue, the deputy chairman announced. A majority of senators supported the ruling.

Speaking exclusively to Pajhwok Afghan News, ARCS spokesman Walid Akbar Sarwari said they planned the centre after noting that a large number of elderly beggars in Kabul had no guardians. Initially, the centre will house poor people without custodians.

In response to a question, he said: “The discussion is still at an initial stage; we will build the centre in Kabul on a trial basis.” The society would do its best that the move did not impinge in any way on the Afghan culture, he promised.
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