Rula Ghani, the wife of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is Christian.
Ashraf Ghani and Rula met in Beirut, Lebanon, while Rula, a young Lebanese graduate from Sciences Po Paris, works for Agence France Presse, and the future President is studying at the American University. In 1978, the one who became her husband, was a professor at Columbia University. It was at this moment that the communist coup d'état took place in Afghanistan, which upset the fragile balance of the country and made it impossible for the young couple to return to Afghanistan. They will finally spend 30 years in the United States. Ashraf will go on to positions at the University of Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and the World Bank.
It is after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the fall of the Taliban that the destiny of the Ghani couple will change. Ashraf is then asked to participate in the reconstruction of the Afghan state. After various positions in diplomacy, he became advisor to Hamid Karzai and participated in the Afghan interim government. He became President in 2014 of a country plagued by 35 years of war.
A rare occurrence in an Islamic republic, Ashraf Ghani pays tribute to his wife and thanks her during his inaugural address as President.
“They don't mind that I'm a Christian, because in the Qur'an it clearly says that a Muslim can marry a Christian. "
But Rula, the Lebanese-American, who speaks English, French, Arabic, Farsi and Pashto, does not recognize the country she had known in the early 70s, and in which women were fully active and integrated into society.
From the election of her husband, the first lady of 65 years, although Christian, must wear the veil and begins the mandate of her husband in a discreet way. However, an event will mark his commitment. As she walks through the streets of Kabul, she witnesses the lynching of an Afghan woman, who was finally burned alive in front of her eyes, due to an alleged blasphemy.
" It's not acceptable. "
She then decides to campaign for women's rights in her adopted country, which sadly made famous the blue burqa hiding the entire body, and only letting the eyes appear through a woven grid. She wants to help Afghan women to be respected, more self-confident and to take their place in the city.
“What I ask for women is respect. "
The first lady, who has become a symbol of emancipation, has therefore finally decided to make her voice heard to bring hope to the women of her country.
“I didn't realize what symbol I was going to become. "
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