As a Washington DC jury convicted MIT-educated Pakistani-American scientist Aafia Siddiqui on seven counts for allegedly attacking US Military and Government officials in a high security prison in Bagram, Afghanistan in mid 2008 – pain and outrage spilled into the streets of her native Pakistan.
Allegations of prejudice, racism and injustice rented the charged atmosphere outside Aafia Siddiqui’s parents house in Karachi, Pakistan, as a gathering crowd – awaiting a rare press conference by Aafia Siddiqui’s mother – mirrored the debates raging on Facebook and in drawing rooms and tea shops across the country.
Surprisingly, though Aafia Siddiqui had been imprisoned in Afghanistan by US forces for her alleged links to terrorists, (a German reporter had in fact unearthed the “Ghost” or “Grey Lady” of Bagram,) yet, terrorism charges were not filed against Aafia Siddiqui.
The frail, distraught, 38 year old mother of three with broken teeth and a host of other injuries and ailments suffered since her disappearance in 2003 hardly seemed capable of lifting a gun let alone firing it. No person suffered any injuries in the alleged exchange of fire, but for Aafia Siddiqui herself -- who was shot. The court investigation also revealed that there was no evidence of machine gun firing in the room where the incident purportedly happened.
The Pakistani mission in Washington DC expressed its disappointment at the “un-expected” verdict and – to placate the sentiment on the streets back home and not to mention outside the DC courtroom – quickly added that it had done all within its power to support Aafia Siddiqui. In fact the Pakistani Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution of support to Aafia Siddiqui that included a payment of two million dollars for her defense team.
When Aafia Siddiqui’s mother finally appeared, a hush fell over the crowd. In the past one had heard that the mother was an emotional wreck herself and was going through hell because of her daughter’s incarceration. But today she was defiant: “ Thank you all for coming. The people and the media are my support. I pray for you. Let me say today, I would have been happy if Aafia Siddiqui had been freed, but now I am happier. My daughter has delivered a slap on America’s face. Today the decline of America begins.”
By the way this family is no “trailer trash”, this is no dreg of the third world. Quite to the contrary, Aafia Siddiqui comes from a highly educated and accomplished lineage. Her mother goes on: “Three quarters of a century ago, my paternal grandfather, the attorney general of his state was asked by the British Governor General to join the Government. But my grandfather refused because his Muslim brethren were subjugated by the (colonial, racist ) British.”
In fact, the theme of racism or prejudice has run throughout this trial. Aafia Siddiqui asked Jewish jury members to be removed and later attributed her conviction to “Israel” rather than to the “American People” just as she asked the “Pakistani People” to exercise calm in the aftermath of the court decision. Meanwhile, a youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8a
Aafia Siddiqui’s legal team plans to file an appeal. However Aafia Siddiqui’s sister claims that one victory has already been attained: “At least one thing is for sure, this will never happen again to anyone like Aafia.”