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MWA Rejects Ideological Exclusion as U.S. Denies Visa of Afghan Women's Rights Activist Malalai Joya
Ideological exclusion violates Americans' First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the U.S. Let the Obama administration know you want to hear Malalai Joya.
By: Aishah Schwartz
Joya, named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2010 and listed as among the top 100 women activists and campaigners by The Guardian in March of 2011, was set to begin a three-week U.S. tour on March 20 from New York, in promotion of an updated edition of her memoir, "A Woman Among Warlords", published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
"The right of authors to travel and promote their work is central to freedom of expression and the full exchange of ideas," stated Scribner publisher, Alexis Gargagliano.
In a March 17 statement colleagues of Joya reported that when she presented herself as scheduled to the U.S. Embassy, she was told she was being denied because she was "unemployed"
Because of her harsh criticism of warlords and fundamentalists in Afghanistan, as the then 27-year old youngest woman elected to Afghanistan's parliament in 2005, Joya has lived underground due to constant threat of death and bodily harm for her courage in speaking up for women's rights. "It's obscene that the U.S. government would deny her entry," said Sonali Kolhatkar of the Afghan Women's Mission, a U.S.-based organization that has hosted Joya for speaking tours in the past and is a sponsor of this year's national tour.
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 yet another 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.
Foreign nationals also previously denied visas include Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer; Fulbright scholar Marixa Lasso, Oxford's Tariq Ramadan; respected South African scholar and vocal Iraq War critic Dr. Adam Habib; Iraqi doctor Riyadh Lafta, who disputed the official Iraqi civilian death numbers in the respected British medical journal, "The Lancet", and others.
The ACLU was instrumental in resolving the visa issues of prominent scholars, Habib and Ramadan, as announced in January 2010 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose to "exercise her exemption authority" for the pair's benefit, thus lifting the ban on their entry into the United States.
In agency reports on Clinton's announcement, State Department spokesman Darby Holiday was quoted saying, "Both the President and the Secretary of State have made it clear that the U.S. government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect."
"Clinton's decision should be equally as applicable today as was in 2010 in the cases of Professors Habib and Ramadan," stated MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz.
The January 2010 decision on behalf of Habib and Ramadan, and the MWA supported April 2010 visa approval of Mohammed Omer served as beacons of hope that the practice of ideological exclusion was nearing an end, however, the decision in the case of Joya indicates that we must continue to urge the Obama administration to transition from words to a comprehensive move through actions.
Here's how you can help!
Contact President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry by telephone, fax or email and urge them show us that they are willing to facilitate the professed pursuit of a new relationship with Muslim communities on the basis of mutual interest and respect, and that they are willing to renounce the subjugation and erosion of the First Amendment rights of American citizens to hear constitutionally protected speech by facilitating the entry visa of Malalai Joya with all due haste.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Fax: (202) 456-2461
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
ATTN: Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Fax: (202) 647-2283
Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry
Embassy of the United States
Sunday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Telephone (Visas): +93(0)700-10-
Fax: +93 (0)700-108-564 or (0)202-300-546
Media Inquiries: KabulPress@state.gov or call: +93 (0) 700 108 239
Sign the Petition: Let Malalai Joya Speak in the United States http://www.ipetitions.com/
In her March 8, 2011 International Women's Day message Sectetary of State Clinton stated, "The United States continues to make women a cornerstone of our foreign policy. It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing. Women and girls drive our economies. They build peace and prosperity. Investing in them means investing in global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for everyone—the world over.
So let us mark this day by finding ways to ensure women and girls’ access to education, healthcare, jobs, and credit, and to protect their right to live free from violence."
Schwartz added, "What better opportunity could possibly exist, in this, International Women's History Month, for merit to be given to the words of Secretary Clinton, than to grant a visa to Malalai Joya; a woman dedicated, at the risk of her own life, to the very values of which she has spoken."
US government denies entry visa to Afghan women’s rights activist and author Malalai Joya http://www.afghanwomensmission.org/?
Malalai Joya Named by Guardian Newspaper as Top 100 Women http://www.afghanwomensmission.org/?
Announcing Spring 2011 U.S. National Tour for Malalai Joya (Scheduled to begin in New York on March 20, 2011) http://www.afghanwomensmission.org/?
MWA Rejects Ideological Exclusion as U.S. Delays Visa of Palestinian Journalist, Mohammed Omer http://prlog.org/
Visa Secured: MWA Welcomes U.S. Visit of Palestinian Journalist, Mohammed Omer http://prlog.org/
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Established in 2006, MWA is an internationally-