Shaima Rezayee was a groundbreaking young television host on Tolo TV, a private television station in Kabul, Afghanistan.
She was also controversial because she was one of very few Afghan women who wore Western-style dress and appeared on television and walked around the capital without any burqa or headscarf.
Her liberal manners and her MTV-style, daily music show Hop drew the ire of conservative Muslim clerics, who condemned her un-Islamic manners.
One of the most outspoken critics of Hop was Fazl Hadi Shinwari, a chief justice of the Afghan Supreme Court. He was quoted as saying “Hop will corrupt our society, culture and most importantly, it will take our people away from Islam and destroy our country… This will make our people accept another culture, and make our country a laughing stock around the world.” Rezayee herself was a central focus of the criticism, mainly for her western style of dress. This was believed by the religious authorities to be ‘corrupting’ the youth of Afghanistan.
As a result of constant criticism she was fired from Tolo TV. Several weeks later, Shaima paid the ultimate price. On May 18, 2005, she was found dead in her home with a gunshot wound to her head. Investigations are continuing into her mysterious death (her two brothers are currently in jail suspected of involvement), though one emerging theory is that Shaima may have committed suicide under the pressure of Afghan society. Press freedom organisation Reporters Sans Frontières and local authorities believe her killing was linked to the “dishonour” associated with her work as a presenter on Tolo TV.
There was something that had to be said,
And the words were coming from within me,
There was something that had to be done,
And the will was coming from within me.
Within me is a vast ocean of thoughts and feelings,
Strength and love.
Its source can be just One,
the One who created me.
So who are you to silence these words?
Who are you to suppress this will?
Freedom my dear, is not mans to give.
Don’t you know that a freedom is in a form,
That can never be chained?
So if voice comes with that freedom,
If decision strengthens that freedom,
If will is that freedom,
If I am the being of that freedom,
Then I can never be denied it.
The strength, the will, the voice in me is forever free.
Messages in “Shaima Rezayee”