The Family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is very distraught at the disturbing news items regarding a so called Aafia Brigade. Once again, terrorists, murderers and kidnappers have chosen to hide their crimes behind the name Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Not the woman. Not the mother. Not the sister. Not the daughter. Not the kind and tender heart.... Just the name.
Our family denies all connections to such acts of outrageous violence. We believe in a struggle that is peaceful and dignified, associating Aafia's name with acts of violence is against everything we are struggling for.
Now some people will make their own claims about what Aafia thinks and with whom she associates. The reality and facts don't even get a mention.
Again we want to set the record straight. We are Aafia's family. We are speaking for her. With every atom of our hearts and souls we condemn evil, and we pray to God that the suffering of the victims are eased just as we pray for Aafia.
In the fall of 2010, after being sentenced to eighty-six years in prison for a crime she did not commit, Aafia spoke to the public for only the second time since she and her three small children were kidnapped by Pakistani agents and turned over to representatives of the United States government in 2003.
She spoke of forgiving the judge, and the people who had wronged her, and asked that no violence be done in her name.
Recently members of al-Qaeda made statements demanding her freedom. Similarly Algeria and now TTP.
None of them had mentioned her before. Never when she was suffering in Afghanistan, nor when the Quran was being desecrated and she was being beaten. They just didn't care. Why this sudden sympathy for Aafia now ?
Do they hope that by associating her name with their acts of violence they hope to borrow Aafia's moral stature as their own, making this their claim as the leaders of the Muslim World?
Because Aafia has become a litmus test for who is for and who is against Pakistan, its honor and dignity, everyone wishes to use her name. Everytime movement for her return home shows a positive outcome these forces like her ex-husband and agency touts emerge from out of nowhere and try to influence public opinion. Well times have changed and people are not blind. They see the pattern.
The indiscriminate campaign of murder and mayhem has disgusted all but the tiniest minority. The war On / Of terror has failed, whether it is bomb blasts or drones or extrajudicial kidnappings it is wrong.
Cases like Aafia's generate great support and emotional involvement because the suffering she has endured can't be ignored. Her story touches anyone with a conscience and those are the emotions that extremists like to exploit.
At the time of the Algerian incedent we had issued a statement
"One tragic result of this event is that once opportunists have committed violence in her name a taboo will have been broken and we will see more of this as some people lose faith in our appeal to reason.
We condemn violence. It is abhorrent to us. It violates everything we have been taught by our parents, God, and his prophets."
Those of us who know and love Aafia can tell you that she would be distraught if she knew that there are people bragging about this murder and mayhem and using her name to justify it. She would also be praying for the victims and their families. Aafia is one of too many people around the world who understands the toll that injustice demands from all of us.
New Year Message from the Family of Dr Aafia
Dec 31, 2012
A Message of Thanks from the Family of Aafia...
We send our thanks and prayers to all of our friends around the world for everything you have done for Aafia.
2012 marked nine years in chains for Aafia, but the movement to free her made huge gains. International support for the Free Aafia campaign has expanded to include groups in two dozen countries. Support for Aafia is nearly universal in Pakistan despite the government's limitations on press coverage, especially in the English language media, and several official "protective" roadblocks.
Some of you marched peacefully with thousands of other people on to the streets to demand her freedom. Some of you sent Aafia a postcard telling her that you love her, that you believe her, and that you are praying for her and her family. Some of you raised money. Some of you gave your time. Many of you prayed. Many of you were there among the thousands who joined the "Caravan of Dignity" (Karwan-e-Ghairat) rallies.
You proved that a quilt of interfaith harmony can be a powerful weapon against injustice as Aafia was remembered at Ashura, Ramadan, Naurooz, Easter, Holi, Diwali and Christmas, united under a banner demanding that our common humanity be recognized everywhere.
All of you are part of our family in a way that we can't explain but we will always be grateful for.
Below are some of the notable events of 2012.
A fatwa from a senior religious body in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is made public calling for support for securing Aafia's freedom. It is censored in the Pakistani media and Saudi officials asked the family not to make a public issue of it. Pakistani agencies have repeated this message to us and added "or else".
On February 10th a large peaceful rally near the US consulate in Karachi was violently assaulted. In the unprovoked attack coordinated by Pakistani and foreign security personnel using water cannons and baton charges, several people were seriously hurt and needed hospitalization including Aafia's sister, Dr. Fauzia and Altaf Shakoor. Our sources told us that the slogan "86 years=Bullshit" that had been displayed at an earlier demonstration offended someone in the consulate who demanded retribution.
Far from silencing us, it brought us an international spotlight and became a catalyst for a major series of events across South Africa. This kicked off a successful campaign which has now multiple active chapters with new ones opening in neighboring African countries. (more here)
The ninth anniversary of the kidnapping of Aafia and her three children is marked by candlelight vigils and rallies across fifteen countries including a vigil outside the United States' embassy in London, a rally outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, just a few miles from where Aafia is being held at Carswell Prison, and a large demonstration outside the US consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa. (more here)
For several years the Pakistani TV channel ARY has made a tradition of dedicating their Mother's Day morning show to Dr. Aafia and her children. A worldwide audience watched Ahmed and Maryam as they continue their journey from trauma to normalcy. (video here)
On this same occasion we were also reminded of the baby Suleman who was only 6 months old when abducted. His fate remains a mystery. Little interest is shown by Pakistan's authorities. As one official said to our family, "He was just a Pakistani kid - who cares?" *(Ahmad and Maryam were born in the United States and are American citizens. Suleman, born in Pakistan, was just a Pakistani kid.) (more here)
An Independence Day campaign to send tens of thousands of cards to the White House was launched and over 50,000 were mailed world wide.
As our successes grew, the shadowy security agencies were not idle. A malicious rumor of Aafia's death was spread. Aafia is kept is total isolation and had no contact with family or even lawyers so we were in no position to verify. This was eventually proven to be nothing more than a spiteful response to the campaign directed at Aafia's elderly mother.
During the Ramadan, two significant developments occurred. The American government confirmed that the Pakistani government had never made a formal request for Aafia's repatriation and so the United States could take no action. This exposed the complicity of some highly placed Pakistani authorities in keeping Aafia locked up. (more here)
The second development was perhaps the most dramatic of this entire ordeal. Aafia spoke. Her own words. Her own voice. A video from 1991 of nineteen year old Aafia giving a talk on the Role of Women in Islam appeared on YouTube. The video garnered 100,000 views in days, despite a news media black out by Pakistani, Turkish, and Arab TV stations. While acknowledging its authenticity, "editorial" decisions prevented the video from being broadcast or even mentioned. (video here)
Former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Pakistan. He described Aafia's imprisonment and the underlying premise as unjustifiable and called the American system in this case "unfair" and terming Aafia's trial "illegal". (more here)
Former United States Senator Mike Gravel visited Pakistan to emphasize that this was purely a political case and its solution lay in the political arena. He urged action, making the famous comment, "If the Pakistani government took serious action, Aafia could be home in two days". (more here)
A delegation of US antiwar groups led by UNAC and Code Pink came to Pakistan to protest the evils of the "collateral damage" of the war on terror, including the drone attacks and the case of Dr. Aafia. (more here)
Former United States Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and International Action Center (IAC) director Sara Flounders visited Pakistan and spent a "Free Aafia Week" across Pakistan, again highlighting the inaction on the part of the Pakistani government. (more here)
Our campaign websites were hacked and selective data damaged. Aafia's sister was detained multiple times and her family threatened. Her livelihood placed at risk when her clinic, one of the few in Pakistan that treats epilepsy, was targeted under the guise of "extortion".
Also in 2012, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, the foreign minister for the former military dictator Pervez Musharaf, admitted in his infamous tweet: "I'm so sorry for handing over the innocent @DrAafiaSiddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever!.Khurshi Kasuri"
Not surprisingly, after this tweet went viral, Mr. Kasuri removed it, but he has not repudiated it either.
And these are just the highlights!
By God's grace, 2012 was eventful and has set the stage for more in 2013. We are energized by the success of so many events and the growing international support.
We wish all sincere supporters a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2013...
2012 Seasons Greetings to All Sincere Supporters
Christmas is a time of magic and miracles.
The miracle of a virgin mother and her son.
The magic of a child smiling at the falling snow.
Silent night. Holy night.
The beauty of the holiday of giving to others.
The hope of a better new year.
Success is a road to destiny for those who trust and have faith.
We are thankful for the prayers from those who believe in God, whether they pray in churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, or just in their hearts.
We are thankful for the prayers from those who believe that people are willing to work for what is right, what is just, and what is merciful.
And just maybe this will be the year that Aafia comes home.
Happy Holidays from the family of Aafia Siddiqui.
What Eid Al Adha Meant for Aafia...
Oct 26, 2012
This Eid we want to share something with our supporters: What Eid Al Adha meant for Aafia.
This is a based on a conversation involving Aafia where she discussed Eid Al Adha and what it meant beyond performing the ritual acts.
It was a casual social conversation sometime in the 1990s. The Hajj was about to conclude and Eid Al Adha was approaching. A point was made that perhaps this Eid is really only a celebration for those attending the Hajj as it marked the successful conclusion of their pilgrimage. For the rest of the muslim world it was only about the sacrificing of animals. As symbolic, solemn and beneficial to the poor as the ritual was, what was the cause for celebration?
As was the case with many of Aafia's perspectives, the response was neither traditional nor focused solely on the logic of obedience to God, blessings for the hereafter and remembering the enormous tribulations of the prophets of God. These reasons provide satisfaction and comfort to those already in the fold of "believers" and are popular when one is preaching to the proverbial choir. But the root of the question was a challenge seeking a more pragmatic response that would resonate more universally.
To Aafia, Eid Al Adha, as a celebration, was not just about the rituals themselves even though it is the culmination of perhaps the most ritual laden event of the Islamic calendar – Tha Hajj. In order to truly celebrate and enjoy this Eid universally, she suggested the examination of what the rituals were highlighting:
The Hajj essentially marks the challenges posed to the Prophet Abraham and his family as believed in the Islamic tradition.
First, the taking of Hagar and Ismail to a seemingly barren spot in the "middle of nowhere" and leaving them with no sustenance other than a faith that an unseen God will provide. Then, later, the Hajj marks the willingness of a father to sacrifice his son, again on the order of that unseen God. So, is the lesson here one of blind obedience regardless of how seemingly harsh the commandments seem? To Aafia the lesson was not one of slavish obedience but one of faith and trust – faith in knowing that God would always be reasonable. She argued that this is the faith we place in those we trust completely and know they will not betray us – the faith that is demonstrated when tested in adversity. Hence, she argued, that God called Prophet Abraham not his servant or slave but His "friend". In Arabic, Prophet Abraham is called "Kahlil-Ullah" – The friend of Allah. True Friendship is generally considered the most valued relationship in almost every human culture because it is voluntary and not tied to blood but earned by actions. To Aafia, this was the lesson here – for each of us to examine whether we are selfish, slaves or friends? Do we follow blindly or do we have faith and trust? Whom do we call our friends and are we worthy to be friends the way Abraham stood by God? In India there is a saying "Only a tested friend is a true friend."
The Eid also reminds us of the anxiety and alarm of a mother as she dashed back and forth in desperate search for water for her gasping son. Just as one would wonder why God would warrant such a situation, we are reminded of the miracle that the water so desperately sought sprang from under the very heels of Ismail's feet. To Aafia this was a reminder of the value of perseverance and the sanctity of life. Hagar's struggle to seek water repeatedly over the same ground in an impossible terrain showed her refusal to surrender in despair despite the odds and also demonstrated her desire to preserve the life of her son.
To Muslims life is considered God's most precious gift to humanity and Aafia suggested that this ritual showed the value of preserving this. In the end God produces the water at the child's feet but not until Hagar had earned it with her sincere effort. To Aafia this was the embodiment of the Islamic creed that people are obligated to persevere and do their part sincerely despite the odds and leave the results to God.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood rituals of the Hajj is the "stoning of the devil". Seemingly archaic and superstitious in this age of space travel, the symbolic shunning of the devil is often mocked. Historically it represents the appearance of the devil in different forms to try to dissuade Abraham on his way to sacrifice his son. Aafia suggested that these are to serve as reminders to hold firm to one's principles and path to do the right thing despite challenges whether they come in the form of temptations or threats. But a more remarkable point she made was that this also highlights the need for people to act with free will and not follow blindly or take convenient ways out when they know what is right and what is not. The Prophet Abraham was asked to do something difficult and given multiple opportunities and pressured to excuse himself but the free choice of both him and his son proved to be stronger. Aafia commented that free will did not mean the easy choice; often it was the opposite.
So in the end Aafia surmised that Eid Al Adha was a celebration not just of rituals but of faith – faith in friendship, loyalty, perseverance, free will and perhaps most importantly the faith that God's Mercy is ultimately always greater than His test.
This is the consciousness Aafia left with us during that discussion about Eid Al Adha. As with many impressions and with the passage of time, we may remember them differently in details but when something leaves a lasting impression, the essence always remains.
We do not know how Aafia feels about Eid today as we are rarely allowed to speak with her. All we have is the memory of a conversation and the ironic twist of fate that almost all the points she made and the lessons she put forth, she is having to experience.
To all sincere friends and supporters and those who seek fairness for all humans without fear or favor, we wish you a very pleasant, safe and health Eid al Fitr.
This is the 10th year that Aafia will be passing this ocassion in a solitary cell away from her children and family.
Ramadan Greetings - 1433 AH (2012 CE)
A Christmas Gift
by Andrew Purcell
Dec 21, 2011
Okay. I got my Christmas gift seven weeks early. A complete surprise considering it came directly from Aafia.
How did this happen?
She is too dangerous for me to be allowed to visit. Certainly doesn't have a lot of opportunity to go to the mall and shop.
During the first weekend of November I drove to Fort Worth with Aafia's brother. The prison officials would not confirm the visit. Come up and maybe, we'll see. He made the five hundred plus mile round trip expecting to be turned away. He was surprised that after some discussion they were allowed a four hour visit.
A good visit has a much different definition at Carswell Prison than it does in the real world, and this was not a good visit. When he got back to the hotel he proceeded to tell me about it.
In the middle of this he paused and said that Aafia had a question for me. She asked me to read books about Islam because she wanted to make sure that I go to Heaven.
This is the woman we are fighting for. Living through nearly nine years of hell and she is concerned about my soul.
As Christmas greetings go, this is not the traditional carols and a light snowfall on Christmas Eve, but I can't imagine many gifts that I will cherish more.