|85,410 to 300,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|California, Northern Virginia, New York, Florida|
|American English, Persian, Pashto and other languages of Afghanistan|
Predominantly IslamMinority Judaism and Christianity
- 1 History and population
- 2 Culture
- 3 Religion
- 4 Economic status
- 5 Notable Afghan Americans
- 6 Relations and other information
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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.
Afghan Americans are composed of the various ethnicities that exist in Afghanistan, reflecting the ethnolinguistic mosaic of their homeland in the U.S. Namely, they draw from Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Baloch, Aimak communities, as well as other ethnic backgrounds.
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 as "Afghan Day". It is a commemoration of the Afghan Independence Day, which relates to August 1919, the time when Afghanistan became fully recognized after defeating the British in the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Small 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.
Afghan adherents of Shia Islam include the Hazara people of Afghanistan, who have traditionally been associated with Shia Islam, and Afghans of Qizilbash background, who are also traditionally known to be Shiites. A small number of Tajiks follow Ismailism, as well as mainstream Twelver Shiism.
There is a community of Afghan Jews in New York City, numbering about 200 families in 2007. In addition, a group of Afghan Americans in the Los Angeles area follow Christianity. Hussain Andaryas is an Afghan Christian televangelist who belongs to the Hazara ethnic group.
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 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
- Ali Ahmad Jalali - Distinguished Professor at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
- Said Tayeb Jawad - Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States from 2003 to 2010
- 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
- Mohammad Qayoumi - President of San Jose State University
- Nazif Shahrani - Professor of anthropology at Indiana University
- Ishaq Shahryar - Afghan Ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2003
Business and finance
- Mahmoud Karzai - Brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and owner of Afghan cuisine restaurant
- Quayum Karzai - Brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and owner of Afghan cuisine restaurants in the Southern California and Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area
- 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
- Tamim Ansary - Author of West of Kabul, East of New York, a book published in 2001, shorty after the "9-11" attacks.
- Khaled Hosseini - Famous author, his work includes the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
- Fariba Nawa - Journalist
Media and art
- Azita Ghanizada - Actress and TV host, she appeared in a number of films and TV shows
- Anwar Hajher - Filmmaker who directed 16 Days in Afghanistan, a documentary about life after the Taliban.
- Youssof Kohzad - Artist, Poet, Painter and Actor
- Zakia Kohzad - former Afghan actress and news anchor
- Mithaq Kazimi - Filmmaker, producer of 16 Days in Afghanistan
- Nabil Miskinyar - Television anchor
- Jawed Wassel - Writer/Director of first Afghan Oscar contender Feature Film called FireDancer.
Afghan music singers
- Ehsan Aman - Artist and music composer of Afghan music
- Farhad Darya - Singer of Afghan music
- Jawad Ghaziyar - Singer of Afghan music
- Rahim Jahani - Singer of Afghan music
- Naim Popal - Singer of Afghan music
- Haidar Salim - Singer of Afghan music
- Mariam Wafa - Singer of Afghan music
- Ahmad Wali - 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
Relations and other information
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, a mosque run by Afghan-Americans in New York City donated blood held a vigil for World Trade Center deceased and funded a memorial for the fire fighters. Since late 2001, after the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, some Afghan-Americans began working for the U.S. government as interpreters. A number of them were killed in action or by stepping on improvised explosive devices that were planted by enemy forces.
In late September 2001 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 October 2006, Alia Ansari, a mother of six children, was shot dead in Fremont, California, 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.
- "First Ancestry reported". 2011.
- 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
- "U.S.: Afghan Jews Keep Traditions Alive Far From Home". Nikola Krastev. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). June 19, 2007. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- 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.|
- Afghan American Demographics
- Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce
- 'Little Kabul' immigrants apprehensive (2001)
- In Va.'s Little Kabul, Joy; Afghans' Celebration Tempered by Fears Of Renewed Division