What are some examples of racism towards the Hazaras in The Kite Runner?

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of the common insults used to harass Hazaras in Hosseini's The Kite Runner include "flat-nosed," "donkeys," and "Babalu." Hazaras are a minority ethnic group in Afghanistan and are treated as inferior by many members of the majority group, the Pashtuns. Some of the prejudice is based on ethnicity and some is based on the associated religion; most Hazaras are Shi'a Muslims, while most Pashtuns are Sunni. In the novel, Hassan and his father Ali are Hazara, and Amir and his father Baba are Pashtun. However, Baba and Ali grew up like brothers, as did Amir and Hassan; therefore, their relationships are an oddity in their world. In fact, Amir is bullied along with Hassan, simply for being seen in public with a Hazara. Despite the emotional connection between these Hazara and Pashtun characters, the Hazaras are an uneducated servant class and the Pashtuns in the novel are upper class, so that creates a very complex relationship between Amir and Hassan.

In Chapter Two, Amir begins to detail his childhood relationship with Hassan and sets up their ethnic and religious differences, as well as their relative class status. We learn Hassan's family history; his mother was apparently promiscuous and his father is crippled. Ali, his father, is referred to by the neighborhood bullies as "Babalu, or Boogeyman" (8). This insult is probably partly based on his disability and partly an ethnic insult. Amir describes the Hazaras as having "Mongoloid features ... they were Mongol descendants" (9). Amir also learns from one of his mother's textbooks that the Pashtuns oppressed and "killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women" (9). This is an example of systemic oppression that goes beyond simple name-calling. However, name-calling is also an everyday experience for Hazaras. Amir tells us, "people called Hazaras mice-eating, flat-nosed, load-carrying donkeys" (9). These insults are drawn from their physical features and their inferior socioeconomic status.

Later, Amir and Hassan encounter Assef, the most prominent of the neighborhood bullies, who torments both of them because of Hassan's Hazara heritage. Even more terrifying than his use of the common insults mentioned in the previous quotes, Assef admires Hitler and thinks Hazaras should be exterminated: "Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns ... We are the true Afghans ... not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood" (40). This is the epitome of racism. Assef later becomes a member of the Taliban and continues to abuse Hazaras; he even keeps Hassan's Hazara son as his personal slave and abuses him. Both verbal insults, prejudiced and dangerous mentalities, and physical aggression characterize the racism against Hazaras in The Kite Runner.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Two, Amir tells a story that demonstrates how Hassan was ridiculed because he was a Hazara and his mother was supposedly promiscuous. When Amir and Hassan walked by a group of soldiers, one of the soldiers shouted,

"You! The Hazara! Look at me when I'm talking to you!...I knew your mother, did you know that? I knew her real good. I took her from behind by that creek over there" (Hosseini 9).

Amir also recalls how Hassan's father, Ali, would be ridiculed for his appearance by the neighborhood children. They would call him Babalu and ask,

"Who did you eat, you flat-nosed Babalu?" (Hosseini 10).

The Pashtun children continually make racist comments about the facial features of the Hazaras. Amir also mentions that Sanaubar, Ali's wife, taunted Ali by saying, "I have seen old donkeys better suited to be a husband" (Hosseini 11).

Amir proceeds to describe the various derogatory names that Pashtuns call Hazaras. Amir recalls hearing people calling Hazaras "mice-eating, flat-nosed, load-carrying donkeys" (Hosseini 10). Since Hazaras are Shia Muslims who are of a different ethnicity, they are oppressed and discriminated against in a majority Pashtun country.

mkcapen1 | Student

The Hazaras are a race of people who descended from the Mongolian race.  In the book "The Kite Runner" Hassan is a Hazara.  On page 9 it mentions in a book that Amir is reading that "the Pashtuns had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras."

Ali, who is a Hazara, is mocked by the neighborhood people on page 10.

When the boys, Hassan and Amir, run into Assef, he taunts Hassan by calling him flat nose.  He makes reference to Hitler being a great man and that had he completed what he had intended the world would be a better place.  He is referring to the extinction of the Hazaras.  This is foreshadowing as later on it will be Assef who will kill the Hazaras to help rid his country of them.


Assef asks Amir "How can you play with him?  How can you touch him?"(41)

Hassan as an adult and his wife were interrogated by investigators.  They had done nothing but were caring for Baba's home while Baba was in America.  They shot him in the back of the head.  When his wife came out screaming they killed her as well.  Then they took the son and used him as a sex toy.  They had no rights as Hazaras. (Page 219)

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The Kite Runner

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