Afghan women’s rights icon denied US visa

Malalai Joya (AFP Photo / Pierre-Philippe Marcou)
The US government has denied an entry visa to Malalai Joya for her upcoming book tour for "Women Among Warlords.”

According to a press statement released Joya, she was denied entry into the US because, “She was ‘unemployed’ and ‘lives underground’… Because of her harsh criticism of warlords and fundamentalists in Afghanistan, she has been the target of at least five assassination attempts.”

“The reason Joya lives underground is because she faces the constant threat of death for having had the courage to speak up for women's rights – it's obscene that the U.S. government would deny her entry," explained Sonali Kolhatkar of the Afghan Women's Mission.

Joya has been a prominent critic of the war in Afghanistan, leaving many to argue the visa denial may be a case of “ideological exclusion” and in turn a violation of Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech.

In 2012 Jaya was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and in 2005 at the age of 27 she was elected to Afghanistan's parliament.