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Message from Dr Aafia's family on the ocassion of her birthday

Dr Aafia's birthday March 2nd to be celebrated, not mourned.


white rose-afia

2nd March 2010 marks Aafia’s 7th birthday and approximately 2,540 days in captivity. Many supporters decided to mark the occasion by celebrating the day.  True, it is odd that we will celebrate without Aafia being amongst us. In fact, Aafia was not much for celebrating birthdays. But we will celebrate to remind us that Aafia is not forgotten and remains very much among us, in spirit, even if she is physically locked up in a coffin sized US prison cell.

This day marks the first birthday when the US claims to have taken the rest of Aafia’s life (even though 7 years have already been taken away from her and her children). But we will use this to mark the first birthday of Aafia, the daughter of the Pakistani Nation. We have come to realize that Aafia is no longer just our sister and daughter or just another political prisoner from the “War of Terror”; she is the living symbol of all that has become of her nation and its honor. So, on March 2nd, we remember on behalf of the entire nation.

We use this as the beginning of a calendar and a commitment to seek not only Aafia’s restoration to her family, but also the safe return of all missing persons and, most importantly, the restoration of peace and security in the nation that stood up for its daughter when others hid in fear.

While we celebrate, we will ask all supporters to let this truly be a celebration, not a venue for anger or excuse to harm any person or property.  Let it be a message to those who would like to propagate the lies that Aafia is violent or her supporters are radicals, that while we are determined to defend and fight for our honor and expose the lies, we will do so in a dignified and restrained manner.  We will not let the perpetrators of the “War of Terror” be our teachers. We will show, InshaAllah, that Aafia can be brought back and the Pakistani nation can unite and act with resolve – and do so in a manner that shows the best of our Islamic and Pakistani heritage. We want to show that emotions can be channeled into action and slogans into results instead of rants.

This is also the month of Rabi-ul-Awal, the month in which our blessed prophet Muhammad (SAAW) both entered and also departed from this world. And so, it is an opportunity to not only celebrate life but also reflect on what one makes of it. In the end we enter and exit alone. We enter with nothing and leave with nothing except the account of how we lived.  The day to day trials and triumphs, the joys and sorrow, the wealth and poverty, the arrogance of power and the burden of oppression – these are all transient conditions that never stay the same. In the end it is only how a person reacts to these that matters and is remembered.

Our lives are testimony to this. What we learn from this is to maintain perspective.  Not easy nor always successful, but essential to maintaining sanity. When this is attempted, it is surprising how the blessings of God become evident even in the worst of circumstances and humility becomes essential in each success.  This is how we come to find reason to celebrate at a time when the world would have us mourn.

Yes, an American court, out of fear, condemned Aafia, but through that trial it also exposed the total lack of any evidence against Aafia and the naked cover up of all that was done to her. Yet, this very act of condemnation also raised her status in the entire Muslim world from a victim to a heroine. She went from being a name to a symbol, from a mother’s daughter to the daughter of a nation. Yet, we know labels are also transient. We remember when she was a pariah, the most dangerous woman in the world and to some she still is. But, then, as now, to us she remains a simple human being – a sister, a daughter, a mother.

So, whether people celebrate a national symbol, the rise of a heroine, the face of all missing persons or the memory of a terror victim, we hope they will also remember that underneath all that is a tortured human being named Aafia Siddiqui and it is for her living memory that we celebrate – in joy and not in sorrow.

May God Bless You

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