A young Olympic runner from Afghanistan is seeking asylum in Europe rather than return to her home country.
The Baron and I were discussing her decision to do this. He thinks that she is in danger in Europe, too, and that seeking asylum is problematic.
While I agree with him theoretically, I think her chances on a day-to-day basis are better in Europe than they are in Afghanistan, where she will be so much in the public eye that the fundamentalists are bound to come after her for being so immodest, unchaste, etc.
As you can see in the body of the report from Der Spiegel, below, they want her out of the limelight and back in the house.
Her parents will pay for this — her father has already spent time in jail — but if they are like parents everywhere, it is a price they will pay willingly for their daughter’s freedom:
Afghan Athlete Seeks Asylum in Europe
Mehboba Ahdyar was to be the poster-child for the Olympics but the 19-year-old Afghan runner ran away from an Italian training camp last week. She has since told her parents she is too scared of reprisals and plans to seek asylum in Europe.
Mehboba Ahdyar was shouldering the heavy burden of overwhelming expectations. And in the end, it proved more than she could bear. The 19-year-old from Kabul was to be the only female athlete representing Afghanistan in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing. Now the young woman has run away, leaving a training camp in Italy and telling her family she is applying for political asylum in Europe.
The young runner, who competes in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters, had become the poster girl for the Olympic movement, with her face adorning the International Olympic Committee’s Web site.
But being in the international spotlight had attracted the wrong kind of attention. Although Ahdyar always ran in a headscarf and wore long tracksuit bottoms she still received death threats from extremists who objected to a Muslim woman taking part in sports at all.
When she received visits from Western media earlier this year, her neighbors called the police telling them she was obviously a prostitute working for foreign clients. Her father, a carpenter, even spent time in jail until the issue was cleared up.
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The German coach of the Afghan women’s soccer team, Klaus Stärk, told SPIEGEL ONLINE earlier this year that he had to train his players on a small pitch at a US army base in Kabul because it would be too dangerous for them to play anywhere else. He even brought the female players to his native Stuttgart to give them the chance to play on regulation-sized fields.
While those women were happy to return to their lives in Afghanistan, Ahdyar took the decision to flee her country and gave up her chance to compete at the Olympics.
She had been training with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at a facility at Formia in Italy and was due to travel back to a high-performance center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 7. Instead she went missing, taking her luggage and passport with her. There were initially fears that she could have been abducted…
However, Ahdyar contacted her family late last week. She told them that she was in Europe and would not be coming back. She said she was scared of reprisals because of her sports career. Her parents are now reportedly under pressure from members of the Afghan Olympic Committee, who say that if she does not come back they will be held responsible and could be thrown in jail.
Thrown in jail again is what they meant.
Hat tip: insubria