Meanwhile, in the West, schools and universities hold Hijab Days to show their solidarity with Muslim women who are supposedly persecuted for wearing the hijab. In reality, women who dare not to cover their heads in Sharia nations are the ones who are really threatened, but no one cares, or dares, to stand up for them.
Afghan actress Marina Golbahari and her husband have been chased from their Kabul home to the brink of suicide in a French asylum shelter, after a photograph appeared of her without a veil.
Fearful for their lives, the couple has kept a low profile since their arrival in France just over five months ago for a film festival. “We never thought of staying,” said Azizi, the feted star of an internationally-acclaimed film. “We hardly packed anything.”
But death threats in Afghanistan to them and their family, they said, ruled out a return.
Golbahari was only 10-years-old in late 2001 when she was plucked from the streets of Kabul and thrust to stardom as the heroine in the Golden Globe-winning film “Osama.”
She was then selling magazines on the streets of the capital, and had witnessed the violence of the recently-toppled Taliban regime first hand when her father was beaten in front of her.
In the film set during the Taliban’s rule, she played a girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can walk freely on the street.
“Osama” was a hit and made Golbahari, now 24, an instant star in her country. “Cinema is my life,” she told AFP. “In a film, I can say everything about my people.”
Her husband, Noorullah Azizi, also found a way out of grinding poverty through Afghanistan’s burgeoning film industry. He grew up in Pakistan among the millions of Afghan refugees who had fled the Soviet war of the 1980s. Now 28, he recalls a childhood spent sleeping under a tent and working in a shoe factory, before returning to Kabul and trying his hand at a thousand and one jobs.
He finally turned to acting, where his muscular physique and square jaw brought him roles as police officers and soldiers fighting the Taliban. “I was happy. I had everything,” he said.
Azizi and Golbahari met on Facebook and quickly fell in love, but the match was not welcomed by Azizi’s family, who refused to attend the marriage last September.
“They were ashamed of my wife because she is an actress and the whole world can see her photo,” he said. It did not take long for more serious trouble to arise.
A picture of Golbahari, head uncovered, at a festival in South Korea drew the ire of conservatives.
The imam in her local village of Kapisa announced that she should not return, which Azizi said translates as: “She must die.” Soon after a bomb was thrown into their garden in Kabul, but mercifully failed to explode. Telephone threats started to pour in, and the couple was forced to move from house to house. In mid-November, they flew to Nantes in western France, where Golbahari was to appear in a festival, the Festival of Three Continents.
But their families, who had also received death threats, told them they had to stay away. The couple have found themselves in a decrepit shelter for asylum seekers in Dreux, 90 kilometers (56 miles) outside of Paris. Their small green and violet room looks out over a roof full of discarded rubbish.
Golbahari has struggled to cope with the forced exile, attempting suicide and now on anti-depressants. “I dreamed of living in France, but not like this,” she said. They are particularly worried about running into fellow Afghans. “It’s very important that no one recognizes Marina,” said Azizi, who locks his wife in the room every time he leaves, to make sure no one gets to her and carries out the death sentence passed by conservative imams a world away.
To avoid detection, Golbahari remains tightly veiled in public spaces – a cruel twist in the tale, given the way their nightmare began. “When you are an actor or actress in Afghanistan, or part of a film, you are accused of being an infidel, you are always in danger,” said Siddiq Barmak, the director of “Osama,” who also became a refugee in France one year ago….