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The First Female Afghan Air Force Pilot is Seeking Asylum in the U.S.

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Niloofar Rahmani fulfilled her lifelong dream to become a pilot in 2013, and was the first woman to earn her wings in Afghanistan's air force, CNN reports. Her dream to become a pilot a way of honoring her father, who had also wanted to become a pilot, and to show girls that they could do the same jobs that men can do. She's flown over 1,000 hours and received the Women of Courage in 2015 from the U.S. State Department, according to The New York Times. But now, her rise as a role model for women is threatening her ability to stay in her home country.

Rahmani’s attorney, Kimberly Motley, said that Rahmani has received numerous threats from insurgents and criticism from government officials. Rahmani’s family has also received numerous death threats, and has been forced to relocate several times.

“If she were to return to Afghanistan, she would be in fear of her safety,” Motley told CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper.

“There is a war, there is a violence, there is discrimination against the female in Afghanistan," Rahmani told CNN.

As a result, Rahmani is now seeking asylum in the United States. However, military officials in Afghanistan have asked the United States to reject Rahmani’s request, saying that her life is not at risk.

“I am sure she lied by saying she was threatened, just to win the asylum case. It is baseless that she claimed her life was at risk while serving in the Afghan Air Force. Since Captain Rahmani’s claim is new, we expect her to change her mind and return to her own country and continue serving as a pilot. We request from our American friends and government to reject her asylum case and send her back, because knowing the truth, Captain Rahmani’s life isn’t at risk at all,” General Radmanish told the Times.

According to Rahmani, things are only continuing to get worse in Afghanistan. Her asylum application is pending.

 

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