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The Murder of Malalai Maiwand - by Faith Brogdan

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    • Faith Brogdan at Pima Community College

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    In the year 2020, there were a recorded 32 journalists that had been killed with a confirmed motive. Amongst these 32 journalists was a woman who went by the name of Malalai Maiwand; she was only 25 years old when she was murdered.

    On December 10, 2020, in Jalalabad city in Afghanistan, Malalai was on her way to work with her driver Mohammad Tahir, when their car was opened, fired upon and they were both killed. The Islamic State came out and claimed responsibility for the shooting and called Malalai a pro-regime journalist. This attack may not have come as a surprise as Malalai had stated before she was killed that she was receiving death threats from the Islamic State and the Taliban. It was said that they wanted her to stop reporting.

    Malalai was a new presenter for Enikass Radio and TV and she had worked there for five years. She had spoken out against injustices, the ongoing war and violence, and the challenges of being a female journalist in Afghanistan. Since she was a journalist and a woman, she was given unique access to stories and was able to talk to widows and orphans. Malalai would often report on human rights issues and government corruption. She was described by her colleagues as “strong and compassionate”, “a brave, top-notch journalist with open eyes” (Razdan), and “a woman that gave confidence to other women” (Glinski).

    Malalai was inspired by her mother as her mother was also a women’s rights activist. But her mother was killed five years before Malalai by an unidentified gunman. Also, Malalai was not the first Enikas employee to be a target of an attack, in 2018 the station’s owner, Engineer Zalmay, was kidnapped and held for ransom (Janjua). This truly shows that Malalai was a brave woman to continue to speak out for what she believed in despite the violence going on around her and the threats she received.

    Now being a young woman that was a journalist in conservative Afghanistan gave her a good amount of attention. Aziz Tassal who is a director of the Kabul Press Club said that Malalai “rose to prominence three years ago after delivering a fiery speech in front of the president on rising corruption in her native Nangarhar province” (Razdan). During her speech, she said to the president “you are surrounded by corrupt people” showing that she was not scared nor was she going to let anyone stop her from speaking the truth.

    What is so terrible about all of this is Malalai is not the first journalist to be targeted simply because she was a journalist. Just 24 hours after Malalai’s death a television presenter, Fardin Amini, was found dead under mysterious circumstances (Razdan). Malalai was the fourth journalist to be killed in Afghanistan in 2020. The three journalists Elias Daei, Yama Siawash, and Zamir Amiri were all targeted and killed in explosions (“Afghanistan”). It is truly sad to see these journalists get killed because they want to use their voices and speak out. No one should have the fear of being killed just trying to deliver stories and do their jobs.   


    “Afghanistan: Female Television Anchor and Driver Shot Dead / IFJ.” International Federation of Journalists, 11 Dec. 2020,

    Glinski, Stefanie. “Female Journalist and Activist Malalai Maiwand Shot Dead in Afghanistan.” The National, The National, 4 July 2021,

    Janjua, Haroon. “Islamic State Claims Death of an Afghan Female Journalist.” OCCRP,

    “Malalai Maiwand.” Committee to Protect Journalists, 18 Oct. 2021,

    Poplazi, Ehsan, and Zahid Mahmood. “Afghan Government Condemns Murder of Female Journalist and Driver as 'Utterly Despicable'.” CNN, Cable News Network, 10 Dec. 2020,

    Razdan, Khushboo. “Malalai Maiwand - 'Brave Afghan Journalist with Open Eyes' Shot Dead.” CGTN,

    This page titled The Murder of Malalai Maiwand - by Faith Brogdan is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Faith Brogdan at Pima Community College.