Escape from Taliban author shot dead after returning to Afghanistan

The rather sad news is that Sushmita Banerjee, the Indian woman who wrote a book about her dramatic account of escaping Taliban-ruled Afghanistan nearly two decades ago has been murdered by some religious thugs. The Guardian reports

The author Sushmita Banerjee, who married an Afghan and lived for years in a remote rural area, became a celebrity in India when her story was made into the Bollywood film Escape from Taliban.

She chose to move back to Afghanistan several years ago and was living with her husband, Janbaz Khan, in his family home just outside the main town in Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan, where she did healthcare work.

The Taliban apparently tracked her down to her old home and burst into the compound in the middle of the night. They dragged the 45 year-old away and left the rest of the family unhurt.

“Last night around 1.30am the Taliban came to their house, broke down the door and took her alone to a different area called al-Jihad, where there is a madrassa,” Daulat Khan Zadran, the provincial police chief in Paktika, told the Guardian. “After that they opened fire on her, there were 15 bullets in her body.”

So what exactly did she do to so enrage the Islamic lunatics? Basically she told the truth and spoke out …

Benerjee’s book, A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife, detailed the harsh lifestyle of women in rural Afghanistan that she had been expected to embrace when she moved there with her husband in 1989. The Taliban swept to power some time after he returned to India to work, and she decided to escape a life that had gone from difficult to unendurable when soldiers closed her small pharmacy.

“The members of the Taliban who called on us were aghast that I, a woman, could be running a business establishment. They ordered me to close down the dispensary and branded me a woman of poor morals,” she wrote years later.

“They also listed out dos and don’ts. The burkha was a necessity. Listening to the radio or playing a tape recorder was banned. Women were not allowed to go to shops. They were even prohibited from stepping out from their houses unless accompanied by their husbands.”

Extreme even by the standards of the radical group, the local commanders also forced women in her area to get a tattoo of their husband’s name on their left hand.

Her first escape attempt was foiled by her own brothers-in-law, who were enraged that she had brought shame on their home by trying to flee. During the second attempt she was caught by Taliban soldiers and nearly executed, but persuaded them that as an Indian she had a right to leave the country.

Despite that harrowing experience, she chose to move back to Afghanistan with her husband, apparently believing that she had put the Taliban years behind her.

When all you have is intolerance of all other views, including moderate variations of your own belief, and when the only response you have is the bullet, then there is only one word that fits … “evil”.

How will people respond to this? well here is a quote I found …

Muslims are the vilest of animals show mercy to one another, but be ruthless against Muslims.

How perverse are the Muslims, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them

Fight those Muslims who are near to you, those Muslim mischief makers should be murdered or crucified.

Is that quote acceptable, is it a valid bit of free speech?

No, not at all, it is a vile bit of hate speech that not only demonstrates an astonishing degree of intolerance, but is also inciting violence and murder, it should be robustly rejected.

So who would be stupid enough and immoral enough to publish such a generalization? To tar an entire culture on the sole basis that a few thugs have acted violently is completely irrational, most Muslims are not violent and do need seek to murder anybody, they are decent human beings who only wish to live in peace.

So who wrote the above lines that I quoted, who would stoop so low to pen such vile and repugnant intolerant comments? Actually, I played a bit of a trick on you, those quotes are lifted directly from the Quran, I simply exchanged the word “disbeliever”, “jew” and “christian” for the word “Muslim”. here are the original quotes …

Sura (8:55) – Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve

Sura (48:29) – Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves

Sura (9:30) – And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah… Allah (Himself) fights against them. How perverse are they!

Sura (8:12) – I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them

Sura (9:123) – O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness

My point is this – the problem with Islamic fundamentalism is contained within the fundamentals of Islam itself, they have not embraced a perverted violent irrational variation of Islam, but rather they have embraced the fundamental core of it literally, and have digested such words as the directives of a god that must be obeyed no matter how repugnant.

Seeds of violence have been sown in the Quran, and so those that do truly embrace it in all its fullness will reap a harvest of intolerance and violence. Embracing such violent rhetoric as literal “truth” has had many tragic consequences.

If there is ever to be peace then the only viable way forward is the truth; the Quran is not the message from a god, but rather is a book of superstitions intolerant irrationality and has nothing of any ethical or moral value to offer anybody.

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