Have the Courage to Name the Real Threat to Afghan Women: Islamist Rule | Opinion

The tragedy of Afghanistan today is not America's fault.

It's true that America has made many mistakes in Afghanistan. As far back as the Reagan era, we can clearly see heinous errors made by administration after administration. And it is certainly true that this latest crisis sits squarely on President Biden's shoulders. He failed to plan to get troops and allies out safely.

But the great tragedy of Afghanistan today—what the Taliban are doing to women—has nothing to do with America.

Americans did not train the Taliban to force women into blue body bags and to kill them if they disobey. America did not insist that they force women out of their jobs, that they force women out of school, that they force women to be housebound and to only leave if accompanied by a man. Americans did not instruct the Taliban to burn down amusement parks because they have statues in them. They did not insist that the Taliban hang gay people in the streets or throw them off of roofs before stoning them.

None of that training came from the American military.

The reason why families are handing their infants over to troops, why women are screaming at the airport, reaching their outstretched arms to American troops as if they are actively drowning and hoping someone, anyone, will extend a hand and save them, is not for a reason that is unique to Afghanistan. It is mirrored in across the world—in many other countries where women are enduring similar atrocities.

They are countries governed by radical Islamism. It's what the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and so many other countries all share. It is not culture; Afghans and Iranians are not Arab like Iraqis and Syrians are. They speak different languages, eat different foods, have different histories and different customs. They do not share a culture. But they share a radical interpretation of a religion.

Afghan women
Women wearing a burqa cross a road as they walk towards a local taxi in Kabul on July 31, 2021. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

Until the world is willing to admit the obvious truth—that radical Islamism sanctions atrocities against women—these atrocities will continue to happen.

Women living under radical Islamist rule are fighting for simple rights such as bodily autonomy, the right to wear what they want, the right to ride a bike, the right to enter a sports stadium, the right to sing and laugh loudly, to paint their nails pink and color their hair green—in short, the right of every woman to live as she pleases, work where she wants, travel where she wants, and marry who she wants.

These are rights that barely register for women in the West; they are so expected as to be taken for granted.

Meanwhile, women around the world risk their lives to attain those same rights and those women need to be supported. Instead, they are ignored. Worse, their abuse is facilitated by those who refuse to acknowledge what is happening to them, who refuse to help them out of fear of being called mean names.

The victims are left to be continually victimized because of the cowardice of those in the West who claim to be allies. Western liberals empower radical Islamism when they turn a blind eye to the women screaming for support in fighting an oppressive radical system that is crushing them and their daughters.

Women across the world are not sub-human. They do not have different wants and needs than you do. They also yearn to be free. They also want to enjoy the life that you enjoy. I know this first hand. I personally escaped a forced, abusive marriage to an Al-Qaeda operative.

The only difference between you and a woman living under Islamist rule is that you happened to be born in a different geographical location. If the tables were turned and you were born in one of the 50 states on this planet that used Sharia Law to crush you, I hope that powerful people from powerful countries would have the courage to address the core of the issue, and to help you in fighting the religiously sanctioned patriarchy and misogyny that is crushing you.

Yasmine Mohammed is the author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam and the Founder and President of not for profit human rights organization Free Hearts Free Minds.

The views in this article are the writer's own.