The Media School will welcome Afghan journalist Fatema Hosseini at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Franklin Hall Commons and on Zoom as part of its Speaker Series. Hosseini, who was a reporter for a leading media agency in Afghanistan and is a freelance writer for USA Today, fled from Kabul to the United States this August after the city fell to the Taliban.
Hosseini was in a dangerous position when the Taliban encroached on her city this fall. According to a USA Today story detailing her escape, being a female journalist, member of the Hazara minority ethnic group and daughter of an Afghan soldier, would have made Hosseini a target for Taliban forces.
Hosseini said when she graduated from the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, she had no intention to become a journalist. She said she instead wanted to research corruption and gender issues in Afghanistan, but realized that not enough information existed on these subjects.
When she was offered a job by Afghan news outlet Kabul Now, she started working as a reporter, despite the danger that came with the position.
“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’re taking. I had to take that risk.”
Hosseini wrote stories to raise awareness about Afghan women who are victimized by war, sexual assault or workplace harassment.
“For Afghan women, I think in our entire life, from the point we are born to the point where we are living, I think there wasn’t a moment where we did not stand for ourselves,” Hosseini said.
As Hosseini fled Kabul, she endured harassment and gunfire from the Taliban. At certain points during her escape when Hosseini said she felt she may not survive, she said her desire for freedom allowed her to persevere. Still, she said she thinks any person would do the same in her position.
“Every human being has that bravery inside them,” Hosseini said. “When it's a matter of life and death, we've got so many things to fight for.”
IU journalism professor Kelley French, who also works as a project editor at USA Today, invited Hosseini to come speak in the series. French worked with Hosseini to edit her story in USA Today.
French said she’s excited for Hosseini to speak to students.
“I spent five days with Fatema in Washington, D.C., just talking to her and listening to her story and helping write it,” French said. “I was so inspired by her that I immediately wanted to bring her to Bloomington.”
She said she hopes that Hosseini’s talk helps students to realize the values of truth and freedom in journalism.
“You can’t hear her story and not appreciate what you have,” French said.“To me, her story is the most moving example that I’ve personally touched of what freedom is and what it costs.”