7/14/2008

Running For Freedom

Mehbooba Andyar, a 19 year old track star from Afghanistan, was slated to compete in the 2008 Olympics; however, she has disappeared while training in Italy. Andyar was going to be the only female Afghan on the Olympic team, which is a very big deal, considering the fact that during the Taliban's regime, women were outlawed from participating in any sports and even today, women are still treated as second class citizens. Andyar has had to endure taunts from her male neighbors and the possible threat of Taliban militants who oppose women's rights attacking her and her family, who live in the poorest parts of the capital, Kabul. Ahdyar also wears a headscarf, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt while running, in order to keep the tradition of Afghan women dressing moderately.

Eurasianet.org reports that Ahadyar is likely seeking asylum in a European country, terrified of death threats she had received from extremists in Afghanistan who oppose women competing in sports.
I find this situation really really sad. It's so easy as a US citizen, to take things like running track for granted. I hope that wherever Andyar is, she is safe and will be able to compete in the Olympics and inspire more Afghan women to participate in sports.

UPDATE: Mehbooba Andyar has resurfaced and will be seeking asylum in Norway.

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