US Denies Entry Visa to Afghan Feminist

The US Government has absurdly denied an entry visa to  Malalai Joya, a prominent Afghan politician, author and critic of fundamentalist, authoritarian and violent elements of her own society and US policy in her country. Joya was told that she was denied her visa because she was "uneployed" and "lived underground" even though she has a book out in the United States ("A Woman Among Warlords")--and lives underground due to repeated death threats and assassination attempts in her own country.

But it's not her involvement in heated Afghanistan debates that seems to have caused the problem. Instead, it's her opinion about US Policy. The press release from the Afghan Women's Mission reads:

Joya has also become an internationally known critic of the US-NATO war in Afghanistan. Organizers argue that the denial of Joya’s visa appears to be a case of what the American Civil Liberties Union describes as “Ideological Exclusion,” which they say violates Americans’ First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the United States.

Perhaps the authorities are afraid of the message Joya brings, which is the crucial message that not everyone who is opposed to misogyny or tribalism in Afghanistan is necessarily big fan of US imperialism there. Or perhaps it's just a petty bureaucratic decision. Either way, it's a failure of justice and free and open discourse.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at March 17, 2011, 5:28am

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