When dictators fall, so do their banknotes

The following now defunct or possibly soon-to-be defunct banknotes are imbued with the symbols and iconography of their leaders, past and present.

5. Afghanistan afghani

Pictured: 10,000-afghani note, acquired in Khwaja Bahauddin in 2001

After the Islamist  government took control of Kabul in 1992, it began to purge things in Afghanistan’s public space that it judged to be in violation of Islam’s general taboo on human imagery. It was also a convenient way to erase the visages of the country’s previous heads of state.

The man-less currency issued in 1993 by Da Afghanistan Bank intersected neatly with the Taliban government’s even more extreme edicts when it wrested control of Kabul in 1996 from the weak government of the late Burhunaddin Rabbani.

This 10,000-afghani note features the arch of Qala-e-Bost in what is now Lashkar Gah, the capital of the troubled Helmand Province. Dating back to the 11th century, it remains a stunning relic of Ghaznavid architecture.

In October 2002, the civil war-era currency was replaced, and the magnificent ancient arch was placed on the new 100-afghani note.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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