Disturbance at Women's Residence

Disturbance at Women's Residence

The incident happened the night that Malalai Joya, a female representative from Farah province, had dismissed some of the delegates and leaders of the Loya Jirga as criminals who destroyed the country and said they should be put on trial. Her remarks caused an uproar among the jihadi delegates, who wanted her removed from the assembly and called her a communist and an atheist.

The arrested man, who has not been named, woke the women early Thursday morning as he stood outside shouting for others to attack the residence. According to witnesses, a few moments later there was more shouting and abusive remarks were directed at the women.

Kabul female delegate, Suraya Parlika, believes the men were pro-mujahedin delegates because they were shouting, "Allahu Akbar (God is great)."

"The group was encouraging others to attack women to break the doors and windows of [their residence]," she told IWPR. "Then others came out shouting and bad words that I cannot repeat."

Parlika added, "The women were very frightened. They locked their doors and didn't come out."

Nuria Wesal, another woman delegate, said the women informed Loya Jirga chair Sibghatullah Mujaddidi about the incident. Mujaddidi promised to find the perpetrators, but deputy chair Safia Siddiqi suggested that the matter should not be pursued.

Siddiqi told IWPR said that the issue should not be exaggerated "because in their upcoming work the women will be faced with fear and hopelessness, and they will lose courage".

Jamila Mujahed, one of the gathering's secretaries, confirmed the attack and said that it highlights that women trying to gain their rights are being intimidated.

Waqef Hakimi, a Kabul delegate, chief editor of Mujahed Weekly and a spokesperson for Jamiat-i-Islami, denied that one of his constituency could have been responsible for the disturbance.

"If anybody has gone [there], shouting a slogan and saying bad things, we can't call them a mujahed," he said.

Joya's remarks have been celebrated by ordinary people and demonstrations have been staged to support her in western Afghanistan, according to BBC Afghanistan reports.

A cultural group formed by Afghans living in Germany announced Thursday they were awarding a gold medal to Joya for her bravery and truth-telling.

Rahimullah Samander is an IWPR editor/reporter in Kabul.

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