Afghan Pilot Says She Can't Go Home From US

She applies for asylum, citing death threats
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2016 3:57 AM CST
Updated Dec 27, 2016 6:15 AM CST
   (Wikipedia/Senior Sgt. Scott Saldukas)

(Newser) – Capt. Niloofar Rahmani's story seems to sum up the dismal state of women's rights in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Taliban were forced from power. The 25-year-old is the first female fixed-wing pilot in her country's air force, but she says she has received death threats both from Taliban insurgents and from distant relatives who believe she has disgraced the family, the Times of London reports. Rahmani, who became famous in her homeland after graduating from a pilot training program run by the US-led coalition, finished another 15 months of training in the US last week and has applied for asylum in the US, saying that she would love to fly for her country, but she's scared for her life, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Rahmani, who was honored with the State Department's Women of Courage Award in 2015, says distant relatives outraged by her career choice have tried to kill her brother and have forced her family to move several times. She tells the Journal that if she's allowed to stay in the US, she will fly either for the US Air Force or as a commercial pilot. "Everything I went through, all my suffering, was because I really wanted to fly. That was my dream," she says. She also says she was harassed and treated with contempt by male Afghan colleagues, though a Defense Ministry spokesman accuses her of lying, reports the New York Times. The Journal notes that Donald Trump declined to answer a reporter's question last year on whether his proposed ban on Muslim immigration would apply to people like Rahmani. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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