By Mark Ellis –
Shirin Taber is passionate about giving women a voice in the Middle East, training journalists, producers, TV, radio, and social media personalities.
She is the director of the Middle East Women’s Leadership Network, based in the U.S.
The unexpected fall of Afghanistan in the last week to the Taliban strikes terror in the hearts many of the women and their families trained by Shirin.
“We are hearing directly from women and families inside Afghanistan asking to leave. They are terrified of the Taliban,” Shirin told God Reports. “These are journalists, media producers, NGO workers, people who have worked with the U.S. to rebuild the country and promote democracy.”
Many can’t make it safely to the airport. “It is a complete bottleneck,” Shirin says. “I tell the women to find shelter and stay undercover. Some of them are moving house to house. They have heard reports the Taliban are coming for them because they are recognized media personalities on television or social media. Apparently, their name is on a list, so they have to move from house to house to hide.”
“They don’t have any hope. At the same time, the underground church has been growing significantly in Afghanistan, like Iran. These are things that might not have happened if we weren’t there for the last 20 years, so we’re grateful for that. That is one part of lasting fruit we can hope for.”
Shirin predicts there will be difficult days ahead. “There is going to be a wave of persecution and possibly killings and imprisonments if the Taliban truly take control. It is definitely grim.”
She is half Iranian, with a Muslim father (now deceased) and an American mother who is a Christian. She has worked more closely with Iran than Afghanistan, but because both countries speak Farsi, there has been great impact for Christian media.
“They can watch the same satellite TV and radio. There is a lot of Farsi Iranian Christian media being sent into that region of 100 million Farsi speakers including Tajikistan, so we can assume Afghanistan is receiving that content also. They have their own dialect, but we can speak to each other. Media is one of the best ways to reach those countries when we can’t cross the border,” she explains.
During the current crisis, she has also spoken to contractors that have worked with the U.S. Defense Department. “They are very worried because they have daughters, and they don’t want their daughters to grow up with this. They are trying to get out. It’s pretty sad.
“The country was being built during the last 20 years. To be painfully honest, it is a debacle. I have been befuddled. How could this happen? We are the strongest nation in the world with the best military. There is a fog that has fallen over our leaders…
“The people got a taste of democracy and it’s being reversed overnight.”
To learn more about the Middle East Women’s Leadership Network, go here