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Behind the Burqa

The full title is Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom by “Sulima” and “Hala” as told to Batya Swift Yasgur. I’ll do a quick review in light of the fact that this book is propaganda, not in a bad sense, but propaganda nevertheless. The purpose of the book is to “anger you, frighten you, and ultimately, inspire you with the compelling and suspenseful stories of these women.” The author wants you and me to care about the plight of Afghan women and about the difficulties of illegal immigrants who are seeking asylum in this country, and she even includes an appendix at the end of the book on “how you can help” with ideas, addresses, and websites for those who want to do something in response to the stories in the book.

I already find that I care just as much or more about what is happening to the people, especially the women and children, of Afghanistan as I do about Iraq. I would say that reading The Kite Runner last year was responsible for bringing my interest in Afghanistan to the surface. So after seeing Behind the Burqa in the bookstore, I was interested in reading this account of two sisters’ lives in Soviet and Taliban ruled Afghanistan and of their escape to the United States. My evaluation: the book is good, well-written, and accomplishes the purpose the author set out to accomplish. I did come away from the book wanting to do something to help those who flee to the U.S. to escape persecution only to be trapped inside our immigration system. I’m not sure what that “something” will be yet, but the appendix again suggests several websites to go to for more information about helping both Afghanistan and asylum seekers in the U.S. I don’t know enough about them to recommend all these organizations, but if you are interested, I would suggest you check out the websites for yourself.

Women for Afghan Women
Equality NowEquality Now
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Physicians for Human Rights
Hebrew Immigration and Aid Society

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