In an undated entry in her diary, 16-year-old Marzia Mohammadi drew up a list of all the things she wanted to do in her life. At the very top was her wish to meet the best-selling Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak, followed by a visit to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and having pizza at an Italian restaurant.
Like Shafak, Marzia wanted to write a novel someday.
But Marzia’s dreams came to crashing end on Friday, after she was killed in a suicide bombing attack on the Kaaj learning center in Kabul’s predominantly Hazara ethnic neighborhood. Her cousin and best friend, Hajar Mohammadi, 16, was also among the 53 deaths, the majority of whom were girls, according to a U.N. agency.
Marzia’s list included everyday things like wanting to ride a bike, learn the guitar, or walk in the park late at night — simple tasks women and girls could not aspire to while living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
But Marzia was different, said her uncle, Zaher Modaqeq, who found her diaries with her belongings after her death. “She was creative and had such clarity of thought. Some of her thoughts were so profound that I couldn’t believe [they] were expressed by such a young child,” he said, the grief evident in his voice.
The murders have evoked widespread condemnations and calls for justice globally, including from Marzia and Hajar’s idol, Shafak. “It broke my heart to learn how they loved reading literature and how they loved reading my novels. The tragic death of Marzia and Hajar alongside dozens of other Hazara Afghan girls in a horrific suicide bombing at a learning centre in Kabul is utterly heart-wrenching,” Shafak told NPR in an email.
“These girls were targeted and attacked both because they were female and because they were from a persecuted minority [Hazaras]. They have been systematically discriminated against and denied their most basic human rights,” she said.
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