Must See TV: Malalai Joya
Malalai Joya is a very young woman who stood for election in the new democratic Afghan Parliament. Her campaign was based in speaking out for an end to rule by warlords and for the rights of Afghan women. She has faced innumerable attempts on her life and has now been thrown out of the Parliament for pointing out that Donkeys in a stable do more for the Afghan people than the current representatives (a notion we might find familiar!) Back in May, Jane had sent me a news clipping about Joya and the resulting post has more background: This is How It’s Done. Joya could certainly teach our party a few things!
Mulvad traveled to Afghanistan and followed Joya as she campaigned – and her film has won recognition from Sundance (World Cinema Jury Prize:Documentary), Festival Amsterdam’s Silver Wolf Award and the Nestor Almendros Prize from the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.
We are among mystics, refugees and neglected animals. It is hot and the people are poor. Every day is full of bargaining and debate. These are days of apprehension and apprehension creates distance. The nights become hostile. People reveal intentions they may or may not have. The enemy is abstract but feels real. The enemy could be every one and no one. Car lights shine on rifles. I yearn to leave this place.
This film was made in spite of this apprehension: Malalai Joya’s apprehension for her own life, our apprehension for being in Afghanistan and among people we did not know.
How does the story we choose to tell effect our society, our world? The great “mono-narrative” has to be broadened. The world hungers for more dimensions, more voices so that the we can create our own opinions, our own sense of awareness about what is really happening in the world—especially when it comes to Islam.
This film was made to tell another story from one of the world’s most talked-about regions: Afghanistan. The stories we hear are always full of bombs, torture and terrorists, stories full of apprehension that create distance: between “us” and “them”.
The world is not about villains who lurk outside awaiting us. The world is more than that– full of everyday people who fight everyday battles for their and others right to life, dream and happiness. Muslims are not a monolithic villainous entity just like we in the West are not. We can understand each other. There are many who profit from making us think that we can not. But in them we can not believe. They create our apprehension for the world and each other, an apprehension that leads to distance.
Joya has continued to speak out even knowing she is risking her life daily to stand for the women of Afghanistan and against the warlords. I can think of no better way to mark September 11th than to watch this documentary – and work for the day when we have representatives with half the courage of Malalai Joya.
You can check your local PBS listings for Wide Angle by clicking here.