Behavior and Etiquette – Other Situational Etiquette

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Remember, the most important way to avoid social blunders is to show respect for the dignity of the individual and his or her way of life.  Sensitivity to proper behavior and gestures will help in understanding why Afghans act as they do and will assist Americans in working side-by-side with the Afghan people. 

At all times, it is important to be honest when interacting with the Afghan people.  Try to avoid blunt refusals when asked to perform a favor for an Afghan. Such refusals are considered rude or impolite.  A response that suggests that an effort will be made (“I’ll see what I can do.”) is usually more appropriate.

Always request permission before taking photographs.  Afghan men generally like to be photographed, but ask first and give them an opportunity to refuse.

Dogs are kept at a distance and are not house-pets in Afghanistan.  Rather, they are used as guard dogs for their flocks. Like other Muslims, most Afghans consider dogs unclean and will be very reluctant to touch one.  An Afghan who has touched a dog will want to wash his or her hands, either immediately afterwards or most certainly before eating.  Muslims do, however, like cats. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was once said to have cut off the hem of his robe rather than disturb the cat sleeping on it.

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