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Dr. Fawzia Siddiqui visits Johannesburg

When I heard that Dr Fawzia, sister of Aafia Siddiqui was coming to South Africa, I was overjoyed! Reason being, that she would now be able to meet the people who had given her their undying support and the entire country would finally be aware of sister Aafia’s suffering. I attended the “Free Aafia Campaign” in Johannesburg which was held by C.I.I and The National Muslim Women’s Forum Of South Africa on Tuesday evening, 21 February 2012. Tickets were sold at a mere R150, real value for what was to come. Accompanied by Mr. Altaaf Shakoor of the Pakistani human rights group, Pasban, Dr. Fawzia would tell us the plight of her sister Aafia.

As I sat in the hall eagerly awaiting Dr Fawzia’s arrival, we were informed that she would be with us in a few minutes time. She arrived a while later and informed us that her mother, Ismet was on the line, telling her that her neice Maryam, (Dr. Aafia’s daughter) was ill. Many of us following Dr. Aafia’s story knows that her second child, Maryam Khan was left outside the Siddiqui residence in Karachi on Sunday, April 2010 by an American whom the child referred to as ‘Uncle John’ and who has since disappeared into thin air. She could not speak Urdu but English and did not recognise any of her family members. The American born child was kept in incarceration for seven years in what she described as a “cold and dark room in Bagram air-base”.

Dr. Fawzia Siddiqui given the phone and the first thing Maryam said to her was “When are you coming home? I miss you!” Dr. Fawzia’s voice quivered with emotion as she expressed her joy at Maryam’s warmth, and sadness at the same time that she was away from Maryam. Dr.Fawzia is the closest thing to a mother in Maryam’s life. Dr. Fawzia said that the feeling of joy that overcame her was knowing that Maryam had finally accepted her as a special person in her life.

With regards to Ahmed Khan (Dr. Aafia’s son)- In late August 2008, Michael G Garcia, the US attorney general of the southern region confirmed in a letter to Dr Fawzia Siddiqui that Aafia’s son, Ahmed had been in the custody of the FBI since 2003 and was he was currently in the custody of the Karzai government. Ahmed Khan was briefly held by the Interior Ministry after his arrest in July 2008 and was thereafter transferred to an Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), notorious for its brutal treatment of detainees, despite the fact he was too young to be treated as a criminal suspect under both Afghan and international law. Ahmed was finally released to the custody of Aafia’s family in Pakistan in September 2009. He later gave a statement to police in Lahore, Pakistan, that he had been held in a juvenile prison in Afghanistan for years. On being reunited with his father for the first time, he ran away screaming in horror, claiming that his father was amongst those who used to beat him in Afghanistan. (JFAC)

“Alhamdulilah, the children have progressed greatly in terms of trusting again”, she said. She mentioned their resilliance and their perseverance in therapy. Subhaanalllah! Allah is Most Merciful. Dr Fawzia highlighted how comfortable she felt amongst all the beautifully clad women in Islamic garb. All the women from the Women’s Forum were elegantly attired in black cloaks and cerise scarves.” For once,” she giggled,” I actually fit in! ” She also expressed her sincere gratitude to the South African people for their undying support. I felt so honoured to be at such an event, in that Allah has chosen me, amongst many to share concern for sister Aafia and the many others who are being held in black sites. Brother Altaaf Shakoor spoke with emotion and sincerity of the plight of hundreds of tortured Muslims, Pakistani nationals who were sold out to America. “Aafia’s test is completed. It is now time for our test. We go for Umrah every year. We go for Hajj every year. But what are we doing about the honour of our sister,” he said.

Dr. Fawzia reminded the crowd not to forget those detained in black sites all over the world, whom the world has never heard of, tortured for years with no end in sight. Muslim or non-Muslim, these tortures go against what was taught to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam). I learnt so many lessons that evening. As my face was awash with tears beneath my veil, I realised how petty we sometimes are. When Dr. Fawzia mentioned Aafia’s vision of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallhu Alayhi wa Sallam) telling her to forgive Judge Berman and all those who tortured her, I don’t think there was a dry eye nor dead heart in the hall. Forgiveness, concern for our muslim brethren and using our abilities to stand up for the truth was what Dr. Fawzia left us with. Not only for Deenul Islaam but for human rights. To develop a constant awareness of our akhlaaq and imbibe this spirit into the hearts of our children and acquaintances is essential.
For as long as the people are united, no nation can demoralise them. May Allah unite the hearts of the ummah for in it lies the true success in both worlds.

by Dr Fawzia Siddiqui

Aafia My dear, Today Aafia you are missed
While the Nation celebrates, Aafia you are missed
As friends and family rejoice,
Your little daughter, I embrace
Aafia, You are missed

I hug and kiss little Maryam,
My hands and lips are numb
Aafia, You are missed

A scared, fearful little girl cries
Holding on to cousin’s friendship ties
Aafia, you are missed

Longing for mommy’s reassurance
Her woeful eyes full of innocence
Aafia, you are missed

Longing for comfort and security allied
Alas, only mother’s love can provide
Aafia, you are missed

Mubarak, Mabruk, congratulations
Soars in the air, my heart weighs tons
Aafia, you are missed

I cannot stop my tears rolling
I cannot hold my heart sinking
What can I do, what can I say
I thank God Almighty for this day
Aafia, you are missed

Lord, I am both weak and sinful
You are always Kind and Merciful
As brother sister re-unite
Lord end my sisters plight
Aafia, you are missed

Missed more than ever,
Aafia, you are missed

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