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Why Dr. Aafia’s Campaign is Cause for Celebration


Just ahead of Dr. Aafia’s sentencing ( on 9/23/10) please consider the following perspectives from Andrew Purcell, (who we have featured as a guest previously) a long time friend of the Dr. Aafia and her family:

I know very well how everything I do for Aafia keeps backfiring. It is just so frustrating. I am just hurt and overwhelmed, shocked at the situation here.”

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– Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui
the sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

From her place in the center of the eye of the hurricane I know how Dr. Fowzia could write those words. She is standing in the midst of a situation that nothing could have prepared her for.

She wonders if anything she has done for Aafia makes any difference at all. After all Aafia is still in an American jail, waiting to be sentenced to life in prison later this month. She is no closer to coming home than she was when she was found dazed and disoriented on the streets of Ghazni. So Dr. Fowzia sees herself as a failure…

…but not so fast. Take a few steps back and catch your breath. In 2003 Dr. Aafia and her three children vanished from the face of the Earth as agents of the military dictator kidnapped and sold them to representatives of the United States. Now step forward seven years. As a direct result of Dr. Fowzia’s work, her sister Aafia is no longer being held and tortured in an unacknowledged prison facility and two of her three children have been recovered and are living with their grandmother.

Traditionally the families and friends of those who have disappeared by secret government orders have been lucky if they can find a general location where the bodies might have been dumped. Dr. Fowzia and her supporters have achieved something unprecedented in the field of human rights; they have forced the reappearance of Aafia, her son Ahmad, and her daughter Maryam. Three living human beings.

It is true that Aafia is still being held in an American jail and there is still no sign of her youngest son Suliman. Is this the victory? Not yet. In this line of work few victories come easily. There are no rules. Progress is measured as a few steps here and a couple of inches there.

When Aafia is sentenced later this month it will not mean her case is over and lost. It will instead be the confirmation of a victory that freed her from torture in a secret prison and returned two of her children home.

The sentencing will also mark the beginning of the next steps in the campaign. Suliman, the child who may never have had a chance to live, must be accounted for. If he is still alive, return him to his family, if he is not, an explanation must be provided. Aafia must be cleared of the slanders and libels that have been thrown at her. And of course, return Aafia home.

This may seem to be a lot of effort for one woman and a child who may not even be alive. If it were just the two of them you might be inclined to count your blessings and quit. Aafia and Suliman were just born with bad luck.

But it isn’t just about them. Or Ahmad and Maryam. Or Aafia’s mother, sister, and brother. Or even her ex-husband or her crazy uncle. Hundreds of Pakistanis disappeared in very much the same fashion  during the rule of the military dictator. Bring Aafia home and account for Suliman and it will be proof that others can also be returned. It just takes the will to shine a little bit of light on evil, and evil gets very frightened.

In the Bible story, Moses brought God’s message to the Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Pharaohs come and go using different names, but the message remains.

Look at how Dr. Fowzia responded to her sister’s plight armed with only faith in God, a pure soul, and courage. Despite death threats, she and a small group of supporters stood up to a dictator and within a few days Aafia reappeared. A few weeks later the dictator was gone.

This can be repeated to help others. Human rights groups will be studying this case for years as proof that the evil can be overcome.

As a final note, when Aafia came to America she often spoke to me about Islam. She said that while many people focused on fasting and feasting during Ramadan, there was more to it. Ramadan is also a time of reflection. Reflection on the things you have done for others. Like Dr. Fowzia and the campaign for her sister. This has acomplished something extraordinary and it will acomplish even more. This campaign has rewritten the book on saving people from injustice.

Andrew Purcell

Originally published at

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  1. Justin

    September 19, 2010 at 6:30 AM

    What bothers me about cases like these is that I do not have facts, so I will not pass judgment. We learned a hard lesson from Anwar Awlaki (may Allah protect us from his evil) that Al-Qaeda agents use the good will of the Muslim community to promote their nefarious agenda. We want to believe our brothers and sisters in faith are innocent, but this inclination of ours is exploited by terrorists operating as wolves in sheep’s clothing. I refuse to naively support a cause like this until all the facts are revealed. I will not be duped into supporting the propaganda of some kharijite terrorist. Yet, even if she was in Al-Qaeda and was planning a “mass casualty attack” as they claim, the use of “enforced disappearances,” military dictatorship, and torture are deeply wrong, no matter who is involved.

    I ask Allah to bring out the truth of this matter and to provide comfort to all those negatively affected by this tragedy.,8599,1954598,00.html

    • Amad

      September 19, 2010 at 6:43 AM

      We are very careful of who we support and whose case we take on. I urge you to read tons of articles on this issue on MM. This is a clear-cut case of injustice.

      • Justin

        September 19, 2010 at 7:00 AM

        Thank you for the information. Forgive my initial skepticism. I have been stung in the past and “the believer is not stung from the same hole twice.” I hope you understand.

        I ask Allah to correct this injustice. I ask Allah to bless the families.

    • SYousuf

      September 19, 2010 at 8:01 AM

      What a pity!!! You have already labeled Anwar Al Awlaki as evil ,even though you started with saying you wont pass any judgment.You will believe your media channels but not the person who has never ever categorically said he wants to kills innocent people.

      Who knows his stature infront of Allah(swt) might be more than even you or me.So stop labeling people which no proof in your hand.

      If Anwar Al Awlaki is following the guidelines of Allah(swt) & Sunnah of prophet Mohammad i am with him & if he is not may Allah(swt) guide him.

      JazakumAllah Khayran.

      • Justin

        September 19, 2010 at 1:32 PM

        Anwar Al Awlaki, Yemeni Cleric, Advocates Killing Americans In Al Qaeda Video

        Dressed in a white Yemeni robe, turban and with a traditional jambiyah dagger tucked into his waistband, Anwar Al-Awlaki used the 45-minute video posted Sunday to justify civilian deaths – and encourage them – by accusing the United States of intentionally killing a million Muslim civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

        American civilians are to blame, he said, because “the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war.”

        “Those who might be killed in a plane are merely a drop of water in a sea,” he said in the video in response to a question about Muslim groups that disapproved of the airliner plot because it targeted civilians.

    • Andrew Purcell

      September 19, 2010 at 10:53 AM


      This article isn’t about Aafia’s case as much as it is about her sister Fowzia. I apologize if I did not make myself clear.

      It began as a series of e-mails Fowzia and I had exchanged over the years, and from conversations with their brother, Muhammad. Both Fowzia and Muhammad had wondered whether their efforts had actually done any good for their sister and her children.

      My first point is that this campaign has been successful on a scale that is almost unimaginable in the field of human rights. Four people disappeared and after seven years three have been located alive, and two of them returned home. Look at the families of the the victims of the Greek colonels of the 1960s and 1970s. Or the families of the victims of the generals in Argentina in the 1970s. Or the families of the victims of the Pinochet regime in Chile. The best they got was, “Well, we think the dead guys were dumped somewhere over that way.”

      My second point concerns the hundreds of Pakistanis who disappeared the same way who need to be accounted for. Dr. Fowzia and her supporters have demonstrated that this can be done.

      Which brings me to the third point. Standing up to evil in all of its guises is scary and can be dangerous, but once it has been done evil usually scurries away.

      Finally, let me assure you that I am neither a terrorist operating in sheep’s clothing nor some Kharijite terrorist with propaganda. I too would like to see all the all the facts revealed.

      • Justin

        September 19, 2010 at 11:26 AM

        Thank you for the clarification. My concern is that I have seen numerous Muslims to this day defending Anwar Awlaki, claiming he does not support terrorism, while we see him and hear his voice on national television issuing “fatwas” calling for the murder of innocent civilians, using the perverted logic of Al-Qaeda, lending support to criminal bombers like Omar Farooq Abdul Muttalib. So my knee-jerk reaction was to be skeptical, but I did not mean to imply you or anyone involved was a terrorist. I just didn’t know. Forgive me.

        I ask Allah to reward your efforts.

        • Amad

          September 19, 2010 at 1:06 PM

          Awlaki’s recent messages supporting terrorism are evil, there is no other way to describe it.

          But this post is about our sister Dr. Aafia, whose case is nothing like his, and who is nothing like him.

          So, pls lets stop with the comparisons totally as this moves focus away from a clear case of injustice.

          • Justin

            September 19, 2010 at 1:35 PM

            SYousuf proved my point exactly, so you can see why I am so disturbed by this phenomena. But your response is encouraging, Amad. I will no longer bring up this issue here.

          • Amad

            September 19, 2010 at 1:43 PM

            I think SYousuf’s phenomenan is what I call a case of sincere denial. People sincerely don’t want to believe that Awlaki, the guy who held so much promise and gave us so much good stuff in the past, would call for murder of innocent civilians.

            The same people (not talking about SYousuf anymore) who will give tons of benefit of doubt to Awlaki will not waste a second to take it away from anyone they don’t like, from leaders (not that they deserve it, but I am talking about consistency), and from “deviants”. If we adopt the stance of “hold your judgement” for every individual, even if they clearly espouse wrong ideas, then we might as well hold the same stance for all terrorists and all dictators. Sorry, we have to be careful, but we should not become blind.

  2. Abdullah Brown

    September 19, 2010 at 7:01 AM

    Al hamdulillah. I want to thank MM for reproducing this excellent piece. Good purposes are served here, one of the most important being the reminder and encouragement to the enemies of oppression and to the oppressors themselves that oppression will never work. No matter how dark the news, good will eventually come from resisting oppression and will eventually triumph. I like very much the positive note of the article and commend MM for reproducing it. Jezekum Allahu khairan.

  3. Justin

    September 19, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    I feel like I sullied the conversation. Perhaps I can make up for that by recommending anyone on facebook to join this page:

  4. Hannah

    September 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    May Allah make this a means for the highest paradise.

  5. Connie L. Nash

    September 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM


    I was impressed by the peaceful way the responders to Andrew Purcell’s piece have held this conversation.

    Just in case something here may be useful, I just transcribed a really well-spoken commentary on the trial of his sister by Dr. Mohammad Siddiqui. I posted this on both my sites. Also you may find other items there as well to help. And I look forward to coming back to learn more about this site.

    This is moving and offers helpful facts as well – along with injunctions as to the dignity and peace whereby actions for such human rights need be conducted..

    A.lso you may want to see:


    September 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    May ALLAH in His infinite mercy bless this our sister and accept her action as an act of worship.may ALLAH save us from the hands of evil men the dAjjAH of our time.please let us remember her in our daily prayers.

  7. Zulander

    September 23, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    86 years… that’s just ridiculous compared to the verdict’s of people who have actually killed civilians. The article also says that Afia denied that she was tortured, how can anyone actually believe that?

    • Bilal

      September 23, 2010 at 6:51 PM

      Salaam brother,

      I think the article meant that she is not _currently_ being tortured in US prisons, as some people were spreading saying inaccurately. This doesn’t change the fact of everything that happened in the past with her when she was in prison in Bagram.

      This is so unbelievably sad. I remember when a supporter came to our local mosque and gave a talk after the jumah khutba. He passed out CDs telling the whole story of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. I swear I couldn’t think straight for the next few days, it was just so unbeliveable everything she went through. Stuff that you cant even talk about without shivering.

      I hope there is some way to appeal her case, inshAllah I dont want to believe this is the end for her.

  8. Muslimah

    September 24, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    She got more than a serial killer Hasbun Allah wa ni’mal wakil … Ya Allah ease her hardship and bring her victory in both worlds. Ya Allah release all the ummah prisoners and bring justice to the lands ameen

  9. Connie L. Nash

    September 24, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    Thank you so much for the prayers asked for by one of the kind-hearted brothers here. By the way, I’m continuing to post items on my two blogsites on this case and the horrendous sentencing: oneheartforpeace and nomorecrusades . The calm and steadiness leading readers here is highly commendable and so needed in our world. Blessings and many du’as for each of you.

    By the way, I too believe firmly in the power of sincere prayer from depths of one’s heart and the only prayer I was able to pray was for calmness all the way through the sentencing – which was reported by the family on their official site.

    Time would be well spent indeed to continue such du’as for Aafia and for her entire family as well as their dear family friend, Andrew Purcell.

  10. Fatima

    September 24, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Sister AFIA SIDDIQUI’S sentencing really saddened me. i have tears in my eyes thinking about her three children and how she is sentenced for life in prison. her children separated from her. but Andrew Purcell really said something that was encourging: while families of others in the 60s were not returned. two of afia’s children were returned to the family. i will keep praying.

  11. sabirah

    September 25, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    inna lillahi wa inna lillahi rajoon, i got so upset when i heard it.. let’s not stop praying for sister Aafia and all the others too that have received injustice, such as Babar Ahmad

  12. Muslim Stranger

    September 28, 2010 at 11:14 PM

  13. Aafia Sketch

    December 7, 2010 at 7:17 AM

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