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An Afghan Kent State Student Fears for Safety of Family in Afghanistan

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The Taliban has taken over much of Afghanistan. American troops are still working to evacuate the capitol city, Kabul.

As the United States military continues to withdraw from Afghanistan, thousands of Afghans already in the U.S. are watching in horror. Noorulbari Mal is a master’s student studying journalism at Kent State University. He says his family is still in Afghanistan and unable to join him in the U.S.

"I feel so broken. I'm watching social media and the news. Everything is so heart-wrenching for me and for my family and for my wife," he said.

Mal has been in contact with his parents and brothers in Afghanistan and says they don't feel safe. However, they are unable to leave the country. All the airports are closed aside from the one in Kabul being used by the U.S. and other countries to evacuate their personnel and Afghans who have helped them.

"Not everyone can leave," Mal said.

But that's not stopping people from trying. Afghans are showing up to the airport in Kabul in droves, even when they don't have the proper documents, with hopes they can make it on a plane.

"It's a mess right now, but the military is trying to manage it and to filter out only the ones that they want to bring into the United States or other countries, but not everyone can come," Mal said.

There have been several reports of the Taliban directly targeting journalists. Before moving to the U.S. in 2017, Mal worked as a journalist in Afghanistan. He says he's been hearing from female journalists who say they are no longer allowed to work.

"On the ground, they're not allowing female journalists, at least the way it was before," he said.

Although the Taliban claim they will allow journalism, freedom of the press, and women in the workforce, Mal says these statements are too vague.

"They say it will be written into Islamic law, so I don't know. There's no clear definition for that Islamic law," he said.

Mal still hopes these claims are true but right now, journalists and citizens alike are living in fear.

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Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women's studies. Additionally, Abigail is starting her second semester copy editing for The Burr.