Malalai Joya is a 28 year-old woman from Afghanistan who, since liberation from the Taliban, has run for parliament in Afghanistan. The documentary of her difficult campaign, Enemies of Happiness, won the World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentaries at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. You can hear a great interview with the film’s director, and see some amazing clips from the film, on a recent edition of NOW with David Brancaccio. She has amazing courage, but her conclusions about the possibility of democracy in Afghanistan are discouraging.
Here’s a snippet from the transcript:
BRANCACCIO: But [Joya’s]
since moved to the Afghan capital, Kabul, where the new Parliament
sits. And late this week, we got some email questions to Malalai Joya
herself. And she sent her responses to us which we have posted in their
entirety over on the PBS.org web site.
When we asked her a question, essentially "How are things going," and
she responded in part that things are going terribly. She writes
(quote) "The voice of me and a number of other democratic-minded
members of Parliament is not heard, and we are not given time to
speak." My microphone has been cut off a number of times when I
criticize the situation and want to express my point of view. Once they
even physically attacked me inside the Parliament and one of them
called (quote) ‘Take and rape this prostitute.’ A shocking state of
affairs for a Parliament that the Western community had so promoted in
the wake of the war.
MULVAD: Well, it just shows that nothing has really changed.
Like in the beginning of the film—you see that her microphone is turned
off one of—in one of the meetings that leads up to the Parliamentary
election. And it still goes on inside of the Parliament. And
it’s—difficult for Malalai Joya raise her voice because what she says
is really—powerful and provoking.
BRANCACCIO: She writes, "I think that no nation can donate
liberation to another nation. Liberation is not money to be donated. It
should be achieved in a country by the people themselves." The ongoing
developments in Afghanistan and Iraq prove this claim.
MULVAD: What she says is that we kind of support the bad guys
being very powerful in Afghanistan now. And she often says that
democracy’s just another word for power. So nothing has changed really.
Like it—it is a change that she has a—a seat in Parliament, but so many
of the other seats have been taken by people who are responsible for
all the crimes that have been committed in Afghanistan during the past years.
There are so many lessons to be taken here, one of which is that it takes time and blood to unseat years of enculturated injustice, discrimination, and hate. And we might also conclude that (radical) Islam is just not compatible with western democracy. Sigh.