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Old 05-22-2011, 03:53 PM
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Exclamation Canadian Raped, Stabbed - Invited to Embrace Islam

Canadian Raped, Stabbed - Invited to Embrace Islam
Abducted in Afghanistan:CBC journalist Mellissa Fung delivers a gripping, searching memoir


By Mellissa Fung HarperCollins

Imprisoned in a concealed hole in the ground in the Afghan countryside, Mellissa Fung interviewed her rapist the morning after he assaulted her.

The veteran CBC journalist had been stabbed and abducted as she was leaving a refugee camp near Kabul. That was the beginning of 28 days in captivity that Fung recounts in her poignant, harrowing, gripping and ultimately inspiring memoir, Under an Afghan Sky, which is already on the bestseller lists.

Fung also interviewed the man who had knifed her. Tormented, driven to the limits of endurance, alternately fighting the monotony and terror of being a kidnap victim, she shows herself to be the ultimate journalist, engaging her fundamentalist captors in dialogue about religion, elections, women, the Taliban. Fung recounts each moment vividly, her telling details and superb use of dialogue taking the reader into the dark heart of Afghanistan and a foreign correspondent's worst nightmare.

In October 2008, Fung had just finished filming interviews with refugee families when she was grabbed by three armed men who overpowered her "fixer."

When she fought against being dragged into a car, she was knifed. Although she doesn't spell it out, Fung was in shock -bleeding profusely, she felt no pain as her abductors spirited her away. They told her they were Taliban, bound her wounds and took turns photographing themselves -with her digital camera -while pointing a Kalashnikov at her head.

But their leader, an 18-or 19-year-old named Khalid, assured her, "I not kill you. We just want money." He guessed they could get $200,000 ransom for her.

Khalid allowed her a brief phone call to her boyfriend, CTV foreign correspondent Paul Workman in Kandahar, to tell him, "I'm okay. They're treating me well. They just want money." She added, "I'm sorry about everything. All the trouble I've caused everyone."

Arriving at a remote village, she was thrown into the hole that would be her prison. Six feet by three feet by five feet high, it had a light bulb rigged to a car battery for illumination and a bucket for bodily functions. She survived the next four weeks mainly on murky water, juice and chocolate cookies.

In that space, tiny even for one person and hidden by a canopy of dirt, she was constantly in the company of one or another of her captives. They were all young men and treated her well -except for Kahlid's "uncle" Abdulrahman, an older, fat man whose "breath reeked of garlic and onions."

He raped her at knifepoint on the one night she was left alone with him. She spent the next few hours rocking "back and forth in a fetal position, hoping I would wake up and realize this was all a horrible nightmare" as Abdulrahman slept beside her. When he woke, he asked, "You want to interview me?" and she did, to distract him, try to get information out of him -and because she's the consummate journalist.

During the ensuing weeks, she built a rapport with her captors, except of course with Abdulrahman, who was never left with her again.

In the culture clash of her debates and interviews with them, and as she relates those to her previous experiences in Afghanistan, Fung makes us realize just what a quagmire she -and we -have got into.

She tried to explain that Canada is different from the United States, that Canada is there to help the Afghans, but she was told, "Canada, America, Britain, you all same. You come, you fight in my country and kill my people." They also tried to convince her to become a Muslim. As one says, "You no go heaven. You not Muslim! You Muslim, you go."

A "clean freak," she became more and more filthy in that reeking hole and worried that her wounds would become infected. What sustained her were the prayers she recited with her rosary beads and the letters she wrote to Workman, knowing he might very well never see them. "There are times when it's very bad and the darkness of the place threatens to swallow me completely," she tells him.

The pair are truly kindred souls since, ironically, Workman also attempted to curtail his panic by writing letters to her: "I have imagined every horrible scenario and I shake with fear. I cannot begin to understand what you are going through."

Their letters are interspersed throughout the memoir, and the reader, already gripped by events, is taken by their love story.

It turns out that her captors, alternately naive and cunning, are not hard-core Taliban, but more a family business that kidnaps foreigners for ransom. But one tells her, "We are all the same. Taliban is Afghanistan. Afghanistan is Taliban."

She writes to Workman, "There are no excuses, P, for what the kidnappers have taken from me. My freedom. But all I can do is to try to understand why they do this."

She reflects that, for young men in the political and economic catastrophe that is Afghanistan, "criminal activity is often the only viable option."

Khalid proudly told her of his girlfriend and showed photos of her and her family he took with Fung's camera. Then he chillingly told her that they plan, a year or two after their marriage, to both become suicide bombers and go to heaven together.

In the end, no ransom was paid, Fung says, but a deal was made; her freedom in exchange for the release of a relative of her kidnappers.

As Adrienne Clarkson says on the book jacket, "the enormity of [Fung's] experience is matched by the brilliance of the writing. This is a must-read for anyone interested in what's happening in Afghanistan today."....

O Israel
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”

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