Monday, November 14, 2005

"My wings are closed and I cannot fly"

Afghanistan has made enormous progress in the four years since its liberation from the Taliban and al Qaeda. Unfortunately, the country still has a long way to go. This was demonstrated in horrifying fashion by the recent murder of female Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman. Yesterday's Sunday Times tells the story:

The 25-year-old Afghan had garnered wide praise in literary circles for the book Gule Dudi — Dark Flower — and was at work on a second volume.

Friends say her family was furious, believing that the publication of poetry by a woman about love and beauty had brought shame on it.

“She was a great poet and intellectual but, like so many Afghan women, she had to follow orders from her husband,” said Nahid Baqi, her best friend at Herat University.

Farid Ahmad Majid Mia, 29, Anjuman’s husband, is in police custody after confessing to having slapped her during a row. But he denies murder and claims that his wife committed suicide. The couple had a six-month-old son.

Anjuman's interest in poetry began under the Taliban, where she and other women in the city of Herat risked death by forming a secret literary society. Her loss is a tremendous blow both to Afghan literature and to the rights of women in that country.

The Taliban has been reduced to a small but still dangerous guerilla movement. The tribal culture that they sprang from, however, remains a powerful force. It will take a long, sustained commitment by America and the West to help the Afghan people overcome this legacy.


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