Media School lecture series to host Afghan journalist on Monday, November 8
The Media School will welcome Afghan journalist Fatema Hosseini at 6:30 p.m. on November 8 at Franklin Hall Commons and on Zoom as part of its lecture series. Hosseini, who was a reporter for a leading media agency in Afghanistan and a freelance writer for USA Today, fled Kabul for the United States in August after the city fell to the Taliban.
Hosseini was in a dangerous position when the Taliban invaded his town this fall. According to a USA Today article detailing her escape, being a female journalist, member of the ethnic Hazara minority and daughter of an Afghan soldier, would have made Hosseini a target for Taliban forces.
Hosseini said that after graduating from the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, she had no plans to become a journalist. She said she wanted to research corruption and gender issues in Afghanistan instead, but found that there was not enough information on these topics.
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When she was offered a job by the Afghan media outlet Kabul Now, she started working as a journalist, despite the dangers of 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 this risk.
Hosseini wrote stories to raise awareness of Afghan women who are victims of war, sexual assault or harassment on the job.
“For Afghan women, I think in all of our lives, from the point where we were born to the point where we live, I think there hasn’t been a time when we haven’t stood up for ourselves,” said Hosseini.
As Hosseini fled Kabul, she suffered harassment and gunfire from the Taliban. At times during her escape, when Hosseini said she felt she might not survive, she said her desire for freedom allowed her to persevere. Still, she said she believed anyone would do the same in her position.
“Every human being has this bravery in him,” Hosseini said. “When it comes to life and 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 editor at USA Today, invited Hosseini to speak on the series. French worked with Hosseini to publish his story in USA Today.
French said she was delighted that Hosseini was speaking to the students.
“I spent five days with Fatema in Washington, DC, just 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 her story and not appreciate what you have,” French said. “For me, her story is the most moving example I have personally touched on what freedom is and what it costs.”