|Zalmay Khalilzad • Lina Rozbih
Khaled Hosseini • Ali Ahmad Jalali
|85,410 to 300,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|West Coast (California), Northeast (Virginia), South (Florida)|
History and population
Afghan Americans have a long history of immigrating to the United States, as they may have arrived as early as the 1920s. Due to the political borders at that time period, some of these Afghan immigrants may have been ethnic Pashtuns from British India (present-day Pakistan and India) or Afghanistan. Wallace Fard Muhammad, credited for being the founder of the Nation of Islam, may have been from Afghanistan. A World War I draft registration card for Wallace Dodd Ford from 1917 indicated he was living in Los Angeles, California, as an unmarried restaurant owner, and reported that he was born in Shinka, Afghanistan in 1893. During the 1930s and 1940s, well-educated Afghans entered America. Between 1953 and early 1970, at least 230 migrated into the United States. Some of those who entered the US were students who won scholarships to study in American universities. After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, around five million Afghan citizens were displaced, being forced to immigrate or seek refuge in other countries. These Afghan refugees mostly settled in neighboring Pakistan and Iran, and from there, many made it to the European Union, North America, Australia, and elsewhere in the world.
Those who were granted asylum in the United States began to settle in California (mainly the Los Angeles-Orange County area and San Francisco Bay Area) and in the Northeastern United States, where large Muslim community centers keep them closely bonded. Fremont, California, is home to the largest population of Afghan Americans in the U.S. Smaller Afghan American communities also exist in the states of Texas, Illinois, Florida, Washington and elsewhere.
According to the United States Census Bureau, there were approximately 65,972 Afghan-Americans living in the country in 2006. By 2011, this number grew to 89,040. According to the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC, the over-all Afghan population in the United States in 2011 is around 300,000. While 30,000 reside in Northern Virginia, approximately 65,000 Afghans comprise the diaspora community based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some figures estimate that there may only be about 80,000 Afghan-Americans but the actual number may be 200,000 to as high as 300,000. Nevertheless, such higher figures may be an exaggeration, as a recent census of 2001 found approximately 9,000 of Afghan ancestry living in New York metro area, considerably lower than the 20,000 regularly cited. Although, the 300,000 figure is a commonly accepted number.
Although the majority of Afghans have assimilated into the American way of life, some migrants from Afghanistan have attempted to not assimilate into American culture as they have valued their traditional culture even after several generations. Afghan Americans value their oral tradition of story telling. The stories they tell are about Nasreddin, history, myths and religion.
Afghan Americans celebrate August 19 in the United States as "Afghan Day" or "Afghanistan Day", it is the day that their former nation had won the war against the British in 1919. Smaller festivals are held in cities that have Afghan communities, usually at the parks where black, red and green colored Afghan flags are spotted around cars.
Most Afghan Americans are Muslim, the majority of whom follow Sunni Islam, while a sizable minority practices Shi'a Islam, reflecting similar statistics as in mainland Afghanistan. While Shi'a Muslims in Afghanistan are generally ethnic Hazaras and Qizilbash (a smaller number of Tajiks follow Ismailism), it is difficult to determine the exact ethnic background of the Afghan American Shi'ites beyond the extrapolation of trends observed in Afghanistan, since no such census actually exists in the U.S.
While the early immigrants were well-educated, the subsequent waves of migrants have not been as educated. The first immigrants came to the US by choice and were well-educated. In contrast, current immigrants have fled Afghanistan after it destabilized during the Soviet occupation as this group has had trouble coping with learning a new language. Those who have pursued their education in America in the middle 20th century and traveled back to Afghanistan, faced trouble attaining employment when returning back to the US since their education, often in medicine and engineering, is frequently viewed as outdated. After the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan's education system worsened, causing many migrants in the late 20th century to place less emphasis on educational attainment.
A sizable number of Afghan Americans who do not seek higher education often enter into food industry, mainly in running Afghan cuisine restaurants and fast food establishments such as Kennedy Chicken. The newcomers to America can be sometimes found vending coffee and bagels in Manhattan where they have replaced Greek Americans in the field.
Notable Afghan Americans
Politics and academia
- Wali Ahmadi - Associate Professor of Persian Literature at the University of California, Berkeley
- Zalmay Khalilzad - United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2007 to 2009. He previously served as United States Ambassador to Afghanistan and United States Ambassador to Iraq.
- Ali Ahmad Jalali - Distinguished Professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
- Ishaq Shahryar - Afghan Ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2003
- Said Tayeb Jawad - Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States from 2003 to 2010
- Nazif Shahrani - Professor of anthropology at Indiana University
Business and finance
- Quayum Karzai - Brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and owner of Afghan cuisine. restaurants in the Southern California and Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area.
- Mahmoud Karzai - Brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and owner of Afghan cuisine restaurant.
- Fauzia Karzai - Sister of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and manager of Helmand restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Ehsan Bayat - Business entrepreneur who founded Afghan Wireless.
- Abdul W. Haqiqi - Economist and co-author of a number of published and cited works concerning Islamic banking accounting standards.
- Baktash Khadem Zaher - Founder and CEO of Paramount Business Jets, Graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
- Khaled Hosseini - Famous author, his work includes the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
- Tamim Ansary - Author of West of Kabul, East of New York, a book published in 2001, shorty after the "9-11" attacks.
- Fariba Nawa - Journalist
Media and art
- Anwar Hajher - Filmmaker who directed 16 Days in Afghanistan, a documentary about life after the Taliban.
- Mithaq Kazimi - Filmmaker, producer of 16 Days in Afghanistan
- Jawed Wassel - Writer/Director of first Afghan Oscar contender Feature Film called FireDancer.
- Azita Ghanizada - Actress and TV host, she appeared in a number of films and TV shows
- Zheela Noori - TV Producer and writer at Voice of America, Afghan TV, based in Washington DC
- Nabil Miskinyar - Television anchor
- Lina Rozbih - News anchor at Voice of America's TV Ashna
- Zakia Kohzad - former Afghan actress and news anchor
- Youssof Kohzad - Artist, Poet, Painter and Actor
Afghan music singers
- Ehsan Aman - Artist and music composer of Afghan music
- Farhad Darya - Singer of Afghan music
- Naim Popal - Singer of Afghan music
- Ahmad Wali - Singer of Afghan music
- Haidar Salim - Singer of Afghan music
- Rahim Jahani - Singer of Afghan music
- Mariam Wafa - Singer of Afghan music
- Jawad Ghaziyar - Singer of Afghan music
- Bashir Hamdard - Singer of Afghan music
Beauty pageant contestants
- Crown Prince Ahmad Shah Khan - Former Crown Prince of Afghanistan and current pretender to the throne
- Prince Muhammad Zahir Khan - Son of Ahmad Shah Khan, Hereditary Prince of Afghanistan
- Prince Muhammad Emel Khan - Son of Ahmad Shah Khan
- Princess Hawa Khanum - Daughter of Ahmad Shah Khan
- Princess Khatul Begum - Wife of Ahmad Shah Khan, Crown Princess of Afghanistan
After 9/11, a mosque run by Afghan-Americans in Flushing, New York, donated blood, held a vigil for World Trade Center deceased and funded a memorial for the fire fighters. Since late 2001, after the U.S. war in Afghanistan, large numbers of Afghan-Americans work for the U.S. government as translators and others. Many of them lost their lives in the war, the same way US soldiers have.
Victims of hate crimes
Around the time of 9-11 an individual went on a shooting rampage in Mesa, Arizona, where he shot at a home owned by an Afghan-American. Additionally, vandals defaced an Afghan restaurant with red liquid intended to appear as blood. Moreover, the Afghan Mission to the UN received a letter that contained quotes from Osama Bin Laden along with a dried pig's ear.
In more recent acts, Alia Ansari, a mother of six children, was shot dead in California on October 20, 2006, an incident which the victim's family and local leaders deemed a hate crime. While wearing her hijab, Ansari was gunned down in front of her children. The incident eventually led to local politicians to call November 13 "wear-the-hijab-day".
Other Afghan-Americans, like U.S. Air Force veteran Mustafa Aziz, have faced long delays in obtaining their US citizenship. The ACLU consequently filed a lawsuit and accused government officials of improperly delaying background checks and allowing applications to linger indefinitely. In 2006, the ACLU claimed victory as Aziz ultimately received his citizenship.
- Afghanistan – United States relations
- Demography of Afghanistan
- Culture of Afghanistan
- Afghan diaspora
- "First Ancestry reported". 2011.
- "Afghan Christian Fellowship, Los Angeles". Afghanchurch.net. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- Eigo, Tim. Countries and their Cultures. "Afghan Americans." 2006. July 6, 2007. 
- Ancestry.com database, Registration Location: Los Angeles County, California; Roll: 1530899; Draft Board: 17
- San Francisco Chronicle, Fremont's Little Kabul eyes election with hope, August 21, 2009.
- "Total Ancestry Reported". 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Afghan Diaspora
- USA Today, 'Little Kabul' immigrants apprehensive (2001)
- New York Afghans Divided
- Afghan Embassy news letter
- http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/6/c837c590-c06b-4c30-9017-36f29fc98437.html U.S.: Afghan Jews Keep Traditions Alive Far From Home
- The New York Times - KFC v. KFC
- The Face Behind the Bagel ; Afghan Newcomers Use Coffee Carts to Succeed As Vendors of New York's Rush-Hour Breakfast
- List of Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University alumni
- BBC. Troubling Times for Afghan Americans. 2001. July 6, 2007
- Human Rights News. "Stop Hate Crimes Now." 2001. July 21, 2007
- Stewart, Anne. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Massachusetts. "Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination Against Arab Americans." 2003. July 21, 2007. 
- NBC 11 News. "Assaults On Bay Area Muslims On Rise." 2007. July 21, 2007. 
- San Francisco Chronicle. 2007. July 21, 2007
- Lisa Fernandez. 100 turn out in Fremont for "Wear a Hijab/Turban Day" Oakland Tribune, November 13, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
- Lawyers and Settlements. "US Governments." 2007. July 21, 2007
- American Civil Liberties Union. "ACLU/SC Wins Citizenship for Seven." 2006. July 21, 2007. 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Afghan Americans|
- The Afghan Diaspora
- Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce
- Afghan-American Youth Council
- Karzai Speaks to Afghan-Americans in Speech at Georgetown (2002)
- 'Little Kabul' immigrants apprehensive (2001)
- In Va.'s Little Kabul, Joy; Afghans' Celebration Tempered by Fears Of Renewed Division
- Afghan American Demographics