Monday, January 2, 2017


When the ultra-conservative and Islamic extremist regime of the Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan by American military intervention back in 2001, it seemed like a beacon of hope for young Niloofar Rahmani. Although a girl living in a strictly traditional society, she wanted to do something out of the ordinarily expected in an Afghan woman: she wanted to be a pilot of aircraft, an ambition supported by her more open-minded father. Responding to a recruitment ad, Rahmani enlisted in the Afghani Air Force and by 2013 was a qualified pilot for large fixed-wing aircraft, as well as a shining example to the world of what women in Islamic countries can do if not held back by tradition.

These salad days are over now for Rahmani according to The Wall Street Journal. Her inspirational success is now the subject of harsh criticism from more conservative quarters in Afghanistan, including the Taliban who are now insurgents in the same country they used to rule. After news came out of Rahmani carrying dead and wounded Afghan soldiers in her transport plane, despite traditional taboos forbidding women to handle the dead across such distance, that’s when the harsh words mutated into death threats, not only against her for her “sin”, but against her entire immediate family for supporting her unorthodox career choice that led to her “sin”. Already Rahmani’s family has been forced to relocate multiple times to avoid attempts at honor killing.

But now matters have come to a head. Back in 2015 Rahmani had gone to the US on an exchange program that would have her training with the US Air Force on piloting C-130 Hercules transports. Her year-long special course ended last December 22 and was supposed to have returned to Afghanistan and her posting there on Christmas Eve December 24. She opted not to fly back, going AWOL and petitioning the US government for political asylum, explaining that she could be killed by extremist elements in her country if she returned.

She’s now the highest-ranked Afghan military personnel to seek asylum in the US after being sent there for exchange course training. Three Afghan Army personnel have pulled the same stunt back in 2014; one was accepted, another immigrated to Canada, and a third is still on appeal. Afghan military brass have spoken out on such actions by their rank and file going to America; Gen. Mohammad Radmanish requested that the US junk Rahmani’s request, believing that she was simply lying to garner sympathy for asylum.

It’s a bad time anyway for Niloofar Rahmani, considering that Donald Trump will be sworn in as President the following year, the very same who has slammed immigration trends and discussed measures ranging from a
total Muslim immigration ban to a Muslim database. Good luck to her anyway.

Photo  Credit to


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