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AAFIA MOVEMENT

Aafia Siddiqui and Nelson Mandela: How do they compare?

The aforementioned message is an example of the depth of feeling that exists for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in different parts of the world; awareness of Aafia's plight, and empathy for her struggle, is growing significantly, both here and abroad.
While I fully understand and appreciate the passion behind Kay Tayyib Quadri's defense of her sister in Islam – both for the sake of accuracy and to safeguard Quadri's well-intentioned argumentation – a number of corrections/clarifications are in order. Over the past decade a certain mythology (compounded by sometimes innocent, and sometimes deliberate, untruths) has surrounded the personality of the former [secretly held] Bagram Detention Center Prisoner 650, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
It is very important – both for the effectiveness and for the integrity of struggle for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's freedom – that we dispel these untruths (on both sides of the equation) whenever possible.
 
1.      Aafia does not have a PhD from Harvard, honorary or otherwise. Her sister (Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui) is the one who received neurology training from Harvard University. 
 
2.      Aafia does not have 144 degrees and/or certificates in neurology. Her degrees are a Masters from MIT and a PhD from Brandeis in Cognitive Neuroscience – which, as I understand it, is very different from Neurology (a medical specialty). Aafia Siddiqui's doctoral thesis was on how children learn through imitation.
 
3.      While Aafia has received numerous awards and certificates over the course of her highly impressive academic life and community service, to characterize these as honorary degrees would be a huge stretch to say the least. It is also worth noting that in addition to her secular academic achievement, Aafia is also a committed student and practitioner of Islam, who, among other things, memorized The Noble Qur'an.
 
4.      Aafia has not yet lost her memory, but over 10 ? years of systemically brutal incarceration has taken its toll (physically and mentally).
 
5.      Aafia is incarcerated in an institution comprising female prisoners only (as far as we know), but men are employed as guards, and in other positions of authority at FMC Carswell; and there have been, according to reports, serial rapists and other abusers among Carswell personnel.
 
With that said, while there are significant differences between Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and Nelson "Madiba" Mandela, there are also a number of thought-provoking similarities. Some of the same forces that erroneously labeled Mandela a terrorist erroneously labeled Aafia "terrorist" as well.
 
Mandela served 27 years as a political prisoner; on March 30, 2014, Aafia would have completed 11 years of political confinement. On the day of their sentencing, both made statements of principled resolution. Mandela became a huge symbol of resistance for the oppressed masses of South Africa, and eventually for freedom-loving people the world over; while Aafia has become a huge symbol of resistance for the oppressed masses of Pakistan, and is steadily growing as an international symbol of how the so-called "war on terrorism" has gone terribly awry.
 
Nelson Mandela was committed to armed struggle in defense of his people's freedom (if that's what it took), and he never backed away from that position. He also demonstrated his willingness – after 27 years of unjust imprisonment – to be an instrument for reconciliation in a post-apartheid South Africa.
 
Aafia Siddiqui, for her part, on the day of her sentencing – after spending five years of torturous [secret] imprisonment overseas, followed by two and half years of brutal pre-trial confinement in the United States – pleaded to her supporters to forgive those who had committed these injustices against her; and to even forgive the Zionist judge (Richard M. Berman) who callously and unjustifiably condemned her to 86 years of confinement.
 
In my humble opinion, Nelson Mandela and Aafia Siddiqui share a rare internal quality of goodness and faith-based resistance; a quality that reminds us all of how truth and justice crushed into the earth will rise again, and again, and again. For most of his active life Nelson "Madiba" Mandela was castigated as a criminal terrorist, but he died the most celebrated person on the planet (in these contemporary times)!
 
I sincerely believe that Aafia Siddiqui will also have her day. (Surely ALLAH knows best!)
 
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
A Note on the story of the East Indian diplomat

In reading the story (below) of the female Indian diplomat, who's treatment by the NYPD has caused an international uproar (and rightly so), I couldn't help but be struck by an assortment of ironies. Let me state for the record that in my humble opinion, "diplomatic immunity" is an affront to genuine justice. If you commit a criminal offense, no matter who you are, and no matter where you are, you should be held accountable.
One of the biggest moral and socio-political delimahs in the world today are the two-tiers of justice; one for the haves, and the other for the have not's. Let me also note that I have long been dismayed by the manner in which rights of imported workers (esp. domestic workers by "diplomats" and other prominent foreign nationals) are routinely violated with virtual impunity – from being forced to work oppressively long hours for way below the minimum wage, to at other times being reduced to virtual slaves.
While the report below alleges that an Indian diplomat underpaid her domestic help and lied about it in her visa application, even if she is guilty as charged, the manner in which she was treated was brutally excessive to say the least. (I doubt seriously that a female diplomat of equal credential from Britain, France, or Germany would have been treated the same.)
I really appreciate the response from the Indian government to this inhumane affront. If either of the [now three] Pakistani governments (over the past decade) had been willing to demonstrate similar indignation for the arrest, detention, and treatment of their respected female citizen, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui would have been home a long time ago!
This serves as yet another reminder that at the end of the day, both as individuals and as nations, we only get the amount of respect that we truly deserve! – MS

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