The media school will welcome an Afghan journalist Fatema Hosseini at 6:30 p.m. on November 8 at the Franklin Hall Commons and on Zoom as part of its Speaker series. Hosseini, who was a reporter for a major media agency in Afghanistan and a freelance writer for USA Today, fled Kabul to the United States in August after the city fell to the Taliban.
Hosseini was in a dangerous position when the Taliban encroached on his town this fall. According to a USA Today story detailing his escape, being a female journalist, a member of the Hazara ethnic minority and the daughter of an Afghan soldier, would have made Hosseini a target for Taliban forces.
Hosseini said that after graduating from Asian Women’s University in Bangladesh, she had no intention of becoming a journalist. She said she wanted to research corruption and gender issues in Afghanistan instead, but realized that there was not enough information on these topics.
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When she was offered a job by Afghan media outlet Kabul Now, she began working as a journalist, despite the danger that came with the job.
“In any field, if you don’t take the risk, you don’t understand how much you’re going to learn, how much you’re going to experience,” Hosseini said. “So the lessons will come with the risk you take. I had to take that risk.
Hosseini has written stories to raise awareness of Afghan women who are victims of war, sexual assault or workplace harassment.
“For Afghan women, I think in all of our lives, from the time we were born to the time we live, I think there hasn’t been a time when we haven’t stood up for ourselves,” Hosseini said.
As Hosseini fled Kabul, she came under Taliban harassment and gunfire. At times during her escape, when Hosseini said she thought she could not survive, she said her desire for freedom allowed her to persevere. Still, she said she thought anyone would do the same in her place.
“Every human being has this bravery in them,” Hosseini said. “When it’s a matter of life or death, we have so much to fight for.”
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Kelley French, a journalism professor at IU who also works as a project writer at USA Today, invited Hosseini to speak on the show. French worked with Hosseini to edit his story in USA Today.
French said she was thrilled to have Hosseini speak to the students.
“I spent five days with Fatema in Washington, DC, talking to her, listening to her story and helping her write it,” French said. “I was so inspired by her that I immediately wanted to bring her to Bloomington.”
She said she hopes Hosseini’s speech will help students realize the values of truth and freedom in journalism.
“You can’t hear his story and not appreciate what you have,” French said. “To me, her story is the most moving example I have personally touched of what freedom is and what it costs.”