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No justice for Aafia: No CHANGE for America


Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s case is one that I have tried to follow as much as possible over the last year or so and is one of the most puzzling things in the news for me at the moment. I have only in the past week seen how she is portrayed in the Western media as I was made aware of her case by my parents who have been following the case on Pakistani news channels available on satellite here in the UK. I am simply shocked. Now I am beginning to understand why I am sometimes at a loss at how some people are just so ignorant of the truth. I have all too long seen the arguments put forward by my co-religionists about the media being against Muslims etc etc and a lot of the time, I do agree that in the past decade and obviously post-9/11, it does seem that way. This past week has shown me why a lot of my compatriots and other members of Western societies would have a negative view of Muslims.

A few days ago, I went onto youtube and searched for “aafia siddiqui”. One result popped out so I clicked it. The title of the video read: “Lady al-Qaeda…”. It was a report taken from the news channel, Russia Today. This was the first time that I had heard this phrase and I was horrified at the way Dr Siddiqui was being portrayed in this tabloid-style, sensationalist “report”. If the reporter in question was displaying the extent of her knowledge about this case, then I’m sorry to say that I, a mere student, am far more qualified to do her job than she is. With no mention of how Aafia was abducted in Karachi along with her kids (one of whom was only 6 months old at the time) on her way to Islamabad and being imprisoned for six years prior to this current trial in New York, she was being spoken about as if she was some sort of terrorist who had the training and “messed-in-the-head”-edness to commit the crime she has been shamefully accused of committing. After only getting information about her case through my parents and their Pakistani news channels, I was simply bewildered at the character being portrayed. This was the polar opposite to what I had been following.

Here is an innocent woman, educated at MIT as a neuroscientist before moving back to Pakistan with young children, described by her family as never really being overly religious, being torn apart by people who simply have no idea of the facts. The point that I wish to stress here is that a lot of the mainstream news outlets that I have come across in the past week since her “guilty” verdict was given have not made a mention of her young children being missing, since her abduction, which was also conveniently omitted. If you miss out these details, it paints a very different picture. The “official” US Military version of the story goes something like: she was picked up in Afghanistan, wandering around in the street (why was she picked up and how did she get there in the first place guys?? Oh yeah, Pakistan and Afghanistan both end in –stan so nobody will notice) and once in custody, she had the strength to overpower two FBI agents and attempt to murder them with a far too conveniently placed firearm on the floor next to her. What kind of joke facility has readily-available guns for prisoners to gain access to anyway?

I just wanted to highlight these points. Even I can tell you she’s been set up and I’m sitting thousands of miles away in Leeds. This is just the tip of the iceberg with countless other people apparently going missing in countries like Pakistan, post-9/11 and ending up in US custody in Afghanistan. What ever happened to due process? We have to stop turning the other way when innocent people are being so harshly treated and having their lives taken away from them, just because we assume that they are guilty because they are a different colour to us or worse: a Muslim! Because when the chickens come home to roost, how do you know the same won’t happen to someone you do care about? I’ve never been impressed by lefties or conspiracy-theorists but from now on, I am going to think twice before taking the news I read at face value. I’m going to start appreciating The Huffington Post and Democracy Now a lot more.

And I was happy when Obama was elected but I’m sorry; CHANGE has not come to America.

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