Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanese Activist Encourages Afghan Women to Vote in Upcoming Elections | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55288958

Activist Lina Abirafeh

Activist Lina Abirafeh

Activist Lina Abirafeh

Kabul, Asharq Al-Awsat- With the parliamentary elections set for 18 th September 2005, life in the Afghan capital Kabul goes on as normal with thousands of election posters and billboards appearing on walls and electricity polls around the city, next to pictures of the late Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Masood, assassinated by al Qaeda two days prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Many Afghans decry the last twenty-five years lost to war and bitter internecine feuds with thousands killed, injured, and displaced. The evidence of past conflicts is still visible around Kabul with dozens of badly damaged building littering the streets.

In six weeks, the country will hold its first free parliamentary and provincials elections since the fall of the Taliban, with 12 million eligible voters expected to head to the polls.

The committee overseeing the elections is made up of individuals from different nationalities working together to prepare for this momentous event which will announce a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan.

Asharq Al Awsat met with a female member, Lina Abirafeh, who is of Lebanese origin and has spent the last two years in Kabul encouraging women to take part in the elections as candidates and voters.

Lina, born in Saudi Arabia from a Lebanese father and a Palestinian mother, left Riyadh aged 9 for Washington D.C where she lived until obtaining an M.A in International Relations from John Hopkins University.

She removed her veil after Afghan women asked her to so as a model for them to follow. She moves around the streets of the capital freely and has not been hassled.

Lina, who is in the process of submitting her PhD thesis at the University of London said, “The upcoming elections will be one of the most complicated that the international community has ever organized, given the mountainous terrain in Afghanistan and the difficulty in accessing a number of areas, as well as the high illiteracy level, and the growing number of candidates which is nearing 6000.”

She revealed that some women were forced to withdraw their candidacy after receiving threats, adding that Afghans were looking forward to a bright future for their country.

Last year’s presidential elections won by Hamid Karzai were largely peaceful in spite of a campaign of fear launched by remnants of the Taliban regime. Accusations were made of vote rigging and multiple voting.

In the last few weeks, the committee overseeing the upcoming elections has received 1034 complaints from 32 Afghan provinces linking candidates to drug cartels and criminal activity.