The agony in Mejgan Massoumi’s voice is palpable even when a cellphone connection falters.
“I happen to be of Afghan origin,” Ms. Massoumi, age 41 and a June 2021 doctoral graduate in modern Afghan history from Stanford University, said. “My family left in the early 1980s because there was another war,” she added, referring to the failed attempt by the Soviet Union to take over the country.
Ms. Massoumi is now a teaching fellow in the school’s Civil Liberal and Global Education program. In a telephone interview, she described the violently changed circumstances in the nation.
“My cousin tells me of a woman whose cousin in one of the provinces was approached by a Talib soldier who told her, ‘You need to come with me and get into a nikah, which is the Islamic marriage. And she said, ‘What are you talking about? Get out of here. Can’t you see that I have a husband and children?’ A Talib soldier point-blank pointed his gun at her husband and killed this husband. And he said, ‘Now you can come and marry me.’”
Ms. Massoumi insisted the Taliban takeover of the Afghani capital of Kabul in recent days that prompted President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country was “very much a staged coup.”
“The United States engaged in a peace agreement with the Taliban, initially, without any consideration of including the Afghans themselves in this conversation,” she added.
Of the Americans, she said, “they’re the ones who negotiated with the Taliban, and then imposed whatever came out of those peace agreements on the Afghan people.” Ms. Massoumi insisted the Afghan people “never agreed [and] do not want the Taliban in their country,” as is evidenced by the hordes trying to flee Kabul.
“There’s no way in hell that the United States did not know about this happening,” an emotional Ms. Massoumi said. “At some point, the USA is going to have to claim accountability for what they’ve done. … 9/11 happened and [they] carried out a war of revenge. They called the Afghan people their allies. And what did they do? They left a country stranded at this moment.”
A little-known aspect of the past few weeks, Ms. Massoumi asserted, was on-the-ground resistance by Afghans who oppose the Taliban. She said Afghans began chanting “Allah-u-Akbar,” or, “God is Great,” as a means of protest against the terrorist group.
“They started chanting this because they are reclaiming these powerful and sacred and beautiful words from the religion of Islam, that the Taliban have bastardized,” Ms. Massoumi explained.
These protestors, beginning in the city of Herat, she said, were “saying Allah-u-Akbar, as their countrymen are dying. They’re saying it as a reminder that God is watching all of this. And we are, we are believers [in] greater power than you and you have no right to co-opt the religion of more than a billion people on this earth, and, and claim it as something disgusting, disgraceful that you’re doing inside of this country.”
Recalling the global campaign that ended apartheid in the Republic of South Africa, Ms. Massoumi said the world needs to intensify its response to the Taliban’s rapid takeover.
“Right now the world needs a call to action, get these a———s out of power,” she said. “Put pressure on multilateral organizations, put pressure on your governments put pressure on your representatives, put pressure on the world.”
According to Ambassador Sam Brownback, the former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom said the tragic circumstances described by Ms. Massoumi can be traced in large part to the absence of true religious liberty around the world.
“Anybody that that does not support things like religious freedom, this is what happens in radical places around the world when you don’t have it,” Mr. Brownback, a former Kansas governor, said. “Anybody that does not agree with the ruling ideology suffers terrible consequences,” he added.