Friday, March 3, 2023

Farheen Siddiqui Runs for Aafia at the Cowtown Running Festival

By Nadrat Siddique

I am incredibly proud of my young Pakistani-American sister-friend Farheen Siddiqui. In December, she and I, along with some of her family members, participated in the BMW Dallas Marathon Festival, a gargantuan athletic event which brings out tens of thousands each year. At that event, Farheen and I wore our respective shirts calling attention to the unjust imprisonment of Pakistai female scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

This time, Farheen ran/walked the 10k which is part of the Cowtown Running Festival in Fort Worth, TX, completely on her own, to call for Aafia's freedom. A few weeks before the event, she had ordered a hoodie with a graphic calling for Aafia's freedom. Unfortunately, it arrived devoid of the desired logo. Undeterred and determined to run for Aafia's freedom, Farheen made her own graphic and attached it to her sweatshirt. She then ran and walked the 6.2 miles in the chilly 40 degree temps, drawing questions and interested looks from fellow runners.

Farheen did that in what is a very "red state," with an open carry law, and an abundance of anti-Islam bigotry. If you truly follow the Islamic maxim of "Innal hokmo illah lillah" (Authority belongs to Allah alone), then you are unafraid. And there is always something you can do to stand up for justice, and against injustice. Ma'ashallah! Congratulations to Farheen!

(Fort Worth, where Farheen did her most recent race, is very near where Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is serving her 86-year prison term on bogus charges. Dallas, where Farheen and I ran in December, is the much larger, neighboring city.)

#FreeAafiaSiddiqui #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #cowtownmarathon

Sunday, February 5, 2023

On the Passing of Pervez Musharraf

By Nadrat Siddique

The former dictator of my country, Pervez Musharraf is dead. Among his other ignominies,

- Musharraf turned a Muslim woman scientist, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, over to the CIA, to be raped, tortured, and brutalized, her children forcibly removed from her and separately imprisoned. She was ultimately sentenced to 86 years in prison for a crime she could not have committed;

- Musharraf turned over the Islamabad-based Taliban ambassador, Mullah Abdus Salaam Zaeef, never mind his diplomatic status, to the U.S. The soft spoken, scholarly ambassador was then sent to the U.S. torture center at Guantanamo Bay and held for 4½ years before being released. He was never charged nor tried.

- During the early years of the WOT ("War on Terror"), Musharraf allowed the U.S. to put out a dragnet to seize all manner of innocents from Pakistani soil. These men and boys, including some as young as 14, were sent to secret prisons, where they endured horrific torture. Many of these were sent on to the U.S. torture center at Guantanamo Bay, where they were held for indefinite periods, without charge or trial, deprived of counsel.

- Post 9-11, Musharraf subverted Pakistan's economy to serve the U.S. WOT.

- Musharraf ordered the military assault and siege of Lal Masjid, a major mosque in Islamabad, which he perceived to be too hard line. He ordered the murder of its imam. The imam's mother and numerous other members of the mosque were also killed in the assault.

- In conjunction with the Lal Masjid assault, Musharraf ordered the Pakistan Army to attack Jamia Hafsa, an Islamic seminary for young Muslim women. Jamia Hafsa was contiguous to, and associated with Lal Masjid. Large numbers of Jamia Hafsa students were detained. Many of these "disappeared" indefinitely.

- Musharraf authorized the Pakistan Military to conduct the aerial bombardment of hundreds of mosques in the Northwestern frontier of Pakistan, setting off what became known as the Waziristan War.

- Musharraf authorized unfettered use of Pakistani air space by the U.S., allowing the latter to conduct thousands of drone strikes across the Pakistani frontier, as well as in Afghanistan. These resulted in the deaths of thousands of Pakistani and Afghan civilian deaths.

I, for one, will not be mourning Pervez Musharraf. He can most charitably be characterized as an imperialist sycophant and king of munafiqs. The pain of his medical treatment for amyloidosis will pale in comparison to what Allah (AWJ) has in store for this war criminal. Inshallah.

#FreeAafiaSiddiqui #PervezMusharraf #PakistanZindabad

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Running for Justice for the Maya Q’Eqchi

By Nadrat Siddique

December 29 – Tonight I ran 10k (6.2 miles) to call for justice for the  Maya Q’Eqchi’ in Guatemala. These are Guatemalan Indians, who have been violently evicted by the Guatemalan police at the behest of a multinational corporation operating on indigenous lands. Twenty-five Mayan Indian women and children were arrested, when they resisted expulsion from their homes. Mayan Indians have long been the target of extermination by successive U.S.-supported dictators in Guatemala.

According to the organizers of the virtual run, "On December 6th the ChapĂ­n Abajo community in El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala was violently evicted, affecting 50 Maya Q’eqchi’ families. There are 25 arrest warrants against Q’eqchi’ Ancestral Authorities. Women and minors were arbitrarily detained without any justification by the National Civil Police (PNC). This eviction was on behalf of the the company NaturAceites - a leading company in the production of African palm oil in Guatemala, and with a high rate of human rights violations."

The organizers website, further explaining the struggle of the Maya Q’Eqchi, is here:

Very often I run various races as an individual. But, to me the parallels between the struggle of indigenous Guatemalans and the Palestinians--who are routinely expelled from their homes so that upscale Jewish-only settlements may be erected—were so stark, I was compelled to set up a Muslim team in an effort to expand Muslim participation and solidarity with the Guatemalan Indians. The team, Team Jamaat Al-Muslimeen, named for one of the United States’ oldest Muslim social justice organizations of which I am a part, was, due to last minute organizing, unfortunately comprised only of myself. In spirit, however, we stand with indigenous peoples in their fight for human rights and self-determination.

A video of my run is here.

Nadrat Siddique is a Muslim marathoner of Pakistani origin.

Friday, December 23, 2022

National Prayer/ Healing Gathering for Newly Released Political Prisoner

By Nadrat Siddique

December 23 - Tonight I attended a Zoom National Prayer/ Healing Gathering for recently released political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur. Over 100 people attended, including former U.S. political prisoners, prominent activists, journalists, professors, Peoples' attorneys, imams, and others. These included Imam Talib Abdur Rasheed, former political prisoners Sekou Odinga, Bilal Sunni-Ali, and Jalil Muntaqim; Jericho's Anne Lamb, Kamau Sadiki, Imam Jamil Al-Amin Attorney Maha Elkolalli, Attorney Naji Muhahid, Attorney Nkechi Taifa, and SF Bay Chronicle writer Wanda Sabir

The meeting was presided over by National Jericho Chairperson Jihad Abdul Mumit, himself a former political prisoner. Introductory remarks were made by Imam Talib Abdur Rasheed, who was recognized for his long-time support for political prisoners. Then, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, sporting his signature dreadlocks and beret, came on. Chants of "Allah-ho-akbar!", "Alhamdulillah!", "Free them all!", and "Free the Land!" broke out as he appeared on screen. Dr. Shakur's voice was slightly weak from chemo, but he was in high spirits. A litany of audience members expressed love for the brother, thanked him for his sacrifice, told him he was looking good, etc. This writer offered him salutations from the Pakistani community and the movement to free Dr. Aafia Siddiqui (via the Zoom's chat).

But, Dr. Shakur did not stay long, saying he had to rest. It was clear that the Warehouse had taken its toll on his body, although they could not break his spirit.

The Zoom was accompanied by an in-person meeting at Masjid Islah in Los Angeles. The masjid's imam, its members, as well as others from the local community participated, giving Dr. Shakur on the ground support. Alhamdulillah for masajid which stand in the true tradition of Islam, and are not afraid to stand with our political prisoners.

The meeting closed out with a beautiful Islamic prayer for healing by Imam Jihad Saafir, who quoted verses from the Qur'an and asked Allah to heal Dr. Mutulu Shakur, as well as to ease the pain of other political prisoners who are not physically free.


Dr. Mutulu Shakur was locked up in sordid conditions for 36 years. In 2019, he was diagnosed with bone cancer, but his appeals for compassionate release were denied. On December 16, 2022, he was finally released. He is now 72 and in the throes of Stage 4 bone cancer. 

A visionary with a dream to liberate his people, he co-founded the Republic of New Afrika. In 1979, he founded the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America. In conjuction with this cutting edge organization, he effectively used acupuncture to heal young black men (and others) facing addiction; and went to the UN numerous times to bring the case of human right abuses against the U.S. Black population to that international body. For this, he was targeted by COINTELPRO, the counter intelligence program used to neutralize government opponents, from those in the Black liberation and indigenous rights movements, to environmental activists, socialists, and even Quakers. He was charged in the robbery of a Brinks armoured car, in which two people died. There was no evidence that Dr. Shakur had participated in the killing. Instead, the evidence pointed to an informant, who was involved in the incident, as the likely killer. However, this man took a plea deal, helped to convict Mutulu, and was paid $110,000. The trial was rife with bias, emotion, and illegalities, and Dr. Shakur was sentenced to 60 years. For years, his appeals were denied. In 2022, he was finally accorded compassionate release.

To learn how you can help Dr. Mutulu Shakur as he battles Stage 4 bone cancer, go to,

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Running Chicago for Aafia

By Nadrat Siddique

Special to the New Trend


October 9, 2022

Forty thousand (40,000) runners and I lined up to run the Chicago Marathon. It was my 49th marathon, and the eighth one I’d used to call for the freedom of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Running is all about freedom. Some people ride a motorcycle or drive a Corvette for the purpose. Others snort cocaine. Still others ski the Swiss Alps, or climb Mount Everest. I run for the elation, the ebullience, the high that comes with prolonged exertion.

In prison, there is no runner’s high. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is held in a tiny prison cell in Fort Worth, Texas. She is barely allowed out on the yard one hour a day, let alone permitted to run. She is a diminutive figure, who even the CIA agents who saw her categorized as “stick thin.” And she is accused of snatching a heavy duty assault rifle, an M-4, placed on the ground by a soldier at a U.S. army base in Afghanistan, and assaulting three big, burly U.S. servicemen. And if you believe that official U.S. government version, I have a bridge to sell you in California.

Lies and More Lies Against a Hafiza-e-Qur’an

If Aafia had shot at the servicemen, there would have been bullet casings at the scene. There were none. Aafia was the only person shot. In fact, she was shot three times in the stomach, and almost died from it, due to delayed or non-existent medical treatment.

Bullet casings aside, there were not even any proper bullet holes to tie Aafia to the case. Yes, there was a bullet hole in the wall where Aafia ostensibly fired at the soldiers. And yes, the prosecution did its best to attribute the bullet hole to Aafia’s putative firing of the firearm. But the incident occurred in a fort, which is a secured building, and thus has video-monitoring. And- the video clearly shows the existence of the bullet hole in question—prior to Aafia’s arrival at the fort.

But, the video was not available to the defense at the time of the trial, appeals of the verdict were (suspiciously) dropped by Aafia, and the 86-year sentence, which included a terror enhancement added by the judge (for a non-terror trial!), stuck. That’s even though (excepting Aafia) not one person was killed or even injured. Talk about Kafkaesque.

The Real Victim of the Victimless “Crime”

Later on, while in prison, Aafia lost part of her intestine. And one of her kidneys was removed. When she appeared in court in New York, she was in a wheel chair. Her condition was resultant from the injuries sustained during her capture and detention, as well as the dearth of proper medical care. All of this was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.

A Bit of Background About Me

(Skip to next section if you know me)

I am a Pakistani woman marathoner, one of very few. Leading up to today’s race, I’d run 48 full marathons. Today would be Marathon #49. As far as I know, I hold the Pakistani women’s record in terms of sheer numbers of full marathons run (keeping in mind that a marathon, by definition, is 26.2 miles or 42.16 km). And I may possibly hold the Pakistani women’s time record for the event as well. According to the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP), the Pakistani record was set by one Sadia Parveen, who managed a 4:12 marathon finish at the Hong Kong Marathon in 2002. My PR (record) is 3:41, achieved in 2015 at the NCR Marathon (Maryland, USA).

Sidebar: Women and Athletics in Pakistan

Although women are starting to run more and more in Pakistan, there are tremendous obstacles. There are stray dogs in many areas, which make it physically dangerous. The heat is stifling much of the year in many regions, with temperatures up to 120 degrees not uncommon.

Then, too, community support for women running long distances is scant. The reason for this may be the long-held and misplaced view that distance running interferes with women’s fecundity. And, since children are considered the greatest wealth of a community in many traditional cultures, anything interfering with conception is frowned upon. Hence I received many warnings early on to ease up on the running.

In addition to myths about running’s interference with childbearing ability, Pakistani female athletes face far more serious obstacles. In the Land of the Pure, women runners risk everything from character assassination, heckling, groping, threats, intimidation and assault while running outdoors. And unfortunately, hijab is no protection, as I can personally attest. While this is purely anecdotal, I was assaulted by a man I’d never met while running in loose fitting shalwar-kameez and dupatta (head cover) in Pakistan. And I have heard similar stories from other female athletes in Pakistan. Many who persist in the sport resign themselves to indoor running at the gym. But this, too, is a limiting solution, because in a poor country with no Planet Fitness, and gym fees being beyond the reach of many ordinary Pakistani women, the gym is frequently the domain of Pakistani upper class women.

All of that to say: Recognizing the privilege of my circumstance, I don’t think it fair to compare myself to Sadia Parveen or other athletes who have trained on Pakistani soil under extremely harsh conditions.

Why Run for Aafia?

I was in Chicago at my own expense. No one was paying me to run for Aafia. Nor was she a blood relative, despite the similarity in our surnames. I would gain neither fame nor fortune by running for a Pakistani Muslim woman political prisoner, unapologetic in her love for Islam, and who been labeled with the worst possible pejoratives. I ran for Aafia because I was absolutely certain of her innocence. But it was not all about Aafia. I ran in her name, too, because of what she symbolized: a completely innocent person rendered (kidnapped) by vicious security forces during the U.S. “War on Terror,” her life shattered through no fault of her own.

Many Aafias

Hundreds of such innocents were kidnapped, including children. Many of these were captured in Pakistan, by the government of then-dictator Pervez Musharraf, a staunch U.S. ally. They were taken to Guantanamo Bay, frequently after detention and torture at one of seven U.S. black sites (“secret prisons”). Of the 779 prisoners originally held at Guantanamo, 734 were released or transferred, with even the CIA admitting that they were completely innocent. Tragically, nine of the detainees died in Guantanamo, never to return home to the families who waited for them day after day.

Following their ordeal, a few of the released detainees somehow found the courage to write their story. For example:

Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment by the United States at Guantanamo by Moazzam Baigg


My Life with the Taliban by Abdul Salam Zaeef

Their health, sanity, and sense of safety in the world destroyed, the Guantanamo detainees struggled to rebuild their lives. Some detainees, of Arab origin, were returned to Arab countries ruled by dictators. In these cases, the regime continued to hound and harass them, as the label of “terrorist” had been smeared on them. While the British government paid restitution to a small number of the detainees who were British citizens, in no case was restitution made by the United States to the former detainees for the illegal, lengthy detentions, separation from their families, and tortures endured. This was despite the fact that the “War on Terror,” in the course of which the detainees (including Aafia Siddiqui) were captured, was instigated by the U.S.

A great book which powerfully documents the “War on Terror” and its terrible impact on Muslims is:

Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11 by Dr. Maha Hilal

Race Day

It is race day, and I rise to say the fajr prayer. I don my “Free Dr. Aafia Siddiqui” tee, and grab the few essential items I laid out the night before: Power Bars, water bottle, gloves, hotel room key.

The starting line is two miles away from the downtown hotel where I’m staying. There’s a free shuttle with a nearby pickup point, which could get me to the start, but I elect not to take it. I’m not a morning runner, and I need to wake my legs up, preferably before I’m surrounded by throngs of people. The streets are dark as I jog toward the start line. Luckily, I’ve walked the area in the previous days, and recognize various cross streets.

The race starts in Chicago’s renowned Grant Park. This is a huge city park, spanning many blocks. Numerous side streets lead up to it. The race is so large that the organizers, to avoid complete pandemonium, have assigned each runner a specific side street from which to access the starting line. This is based on how fast the runner was in a previous marathon, which she documented on her Chicago marathon application. On her assigned street (which race organizers call a “gate”) is the security checkpoint through which she—and all runners in her starting group—must pass. The runner must display her bib (race) number, which is unique to her. It is worn on the front of her shirt, and contains a timing device to record her exact start and finish time, which are later used to calculate her finish time. (This is done to ensure fairness, since, with 40,000 people running, everyone cannot possibly cross the start line at the same time.) Non-runners are not permitted into the area.

My assigned street is Ida B. Wells Drive. The symbolism does not escape me. My “gate’ is named after an extremely prominent, fearless Black woman leader. Originally a teacher in segregated schools in the American South, she fought against lynchings and for black women’s rights. And I am running for a Pakistani woman, Aafia, a brilliant orator, scholar, and visionary in her own right, who sought to revolutionize the Pakistani education system to benefit all Pakistani children, including those with autism and other learning disabilities—until she was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence and handed over to the U.S. for torture.

My wave starts at 8:00 AM, one hour after the elites (professional athletes and other very fast runners). So, I wait, praying, stretching, observing.

The Race Starts

The race started, as usual, after the singing of the National Anthem. Unlike some of the marathons I’ve run, this city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, did not come out to kick off the race. Perhaps it was just not a Chicago thing. Or it may have been that she, an openly gay woman who frequently leads Chicago’s annual Pride (LGBTQ) Parade, was too busy with her wife?

As a middle of the pack marathoner, I view marathoning as an opportunity to see a new city on foot. It is very empowering, and often changes one’s view of the city. In this case, I’d run Chicago twice previously, and had a general sense of the city’s layout.

According to the organizers, the Chicago marathon traverses twenty-nine of the city’s neighborhoods. Unlike some marathons, eg Baltimore and Washington, DC, which take runners through a variety of neighborhoods, including both affluent and downtrodden areas, the Chicago race seemed not very representative of the city. For example, it avoided large swathes of Chicago’s South Side, reputed to be poor and crime-ridden. It did, however, provide interesting glimpses into Chicago’s ethnic diversity.

For example, approximately 40% of Chicago’s population is Latino, a fact I’d been completely unaware of prior to my first Chicago Marathon in 2018. And evidently, the Windy City is home to a very large population of Latino distance runners. On top of this, runners from all over Latin America converge on Chicago just to participate in the race. Accordingly, marathon coverage by the sports channels was provided in both English and Spanish, the Spanish language coverage by Telemundo. Latinos lined the roads all along the route to cheer on their family members who were running the marathon. Perhaps the largest group of these was near Mile 18. They were playing beautiful, energizing Spanish music, waving the flags of various Latin American countries, and chanting “Si se puede,” and other words of encouragement entirely in Spanish. I noted with some amusement that they would yell out in Spanish not just to the Hispanic runners, but also to those who were clearly non-Hispanic.

As I ran, an old friend in Brownsville, TX, came to mind. He is a Mexican convert to Islam, and a long-time Aafia supporter. Prior to becoming seriously ill, he’d worked diligently to educate his community both about Islam, and about the Aafia case. His daughter, Aisha, frequently sported the “Free Dr. Aafia Siddiqui” tee distributed by our campaign several years ago. I also thought of Nahela Morales, a Latina convert and social justice activist with the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of  the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), who’d spoken passionately at a rally for Aafia outside of FMC Carswell (prison where Aafia is locked up), and then launched the “#IAmAafia” campaign, which reached thousands of people over social media.

I wondered if many Chicago-area Latinos were aware of Dr. Aafia’s case. Given the xenophobia, racism, and sometimes extreme hate directed at them, could they relate to her experience at the hands of the U.S. government? Or were they more likely to swallow the government propaganda against her?

A few miles down the road, we ran under a gargantuan, ornate arch, and suddenly all of the signs were in Chinese. It was the famed Chinatown Arch. For some reason, perhaps because it occurs around Mile 22, by which time I am heavily fatigued, I didn’t remember running under it during my previous two Chicago marathons. A member of my support team was there, and shouted words of encouragement to me. We ran through Chicago’s Chinatown. A Chinese band, complete with traditional Chinese gong and other instruments, was playing. Chinese restaurants, furniture stores, acupuncture shops, and herbalists—abounded. We left Chinatown, and headed back toward downtown and Grant Park.

In the course of the approximately four hours I was running for Aafia, fellow marathoners would pass and gave me fist bumps, thumbs up, or verbal kudos. The last, and most emphatic of these was a young Caucasian female runner. “Yes, yes, free ‘em all!” she said. She, like most of the other runners interacting with me during the race, was responding to the back of my shirt, which read “Free all political prisoners!”

I was aware that the front of my shirt, featuring a graphic of Dr. Aafia, and the words, “Free Dr. Aafia Siddiqui!” unfortunately, could not easily be read by other runners during the race. That is because it is a serious tripping hazard, to turn to read another runner’s shirt in such a large crowd. However, the message was visible to spectators. These lined every road we ran. And the shirt, with its message, was visible to other runners during the lengthy waiting period to start the race, as well as during the rest period afterwards, when exhausted runners who had completed the marathon lounged about the “Recovery Area” reserved for them in Grant Park.

All along the course, spectators held their national flags. I recognized those of India, Mexico, Canada, Britain, France, Norway, Spain, Italy, and many other countries. But there were no Pakistani flags. And certainly no “Free Aafia” placards. It was late in the race, and I was starting to get tired. I turned a corner, and saw a group of spectators holding a large Palestinian flag. Several of them were also wearing kaffiyahs (traditional Palestinian scarves). They were there to cheer on the runners from Team Palestine, which participates in the Chicago Marathon each year, to raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). As they had their eyes peeled for their own team mates who were running (ie Palestinians), and I was still moving pretty quickly, they didn’t see me at first. As I went past, I yelled as loud as I could “Viva Viva Palestina!” And they smiled and raised their fists. I have no idea why I yelled out in Spanish. But, it gave me a much needed surge of energy, which propelled me across the finish line a few miles away.

As one crosses a marathon finish line, one encounters a battery of volunteers. The first set of these give the runner water. The next one puts a finisher medal around the runner’s neck. The next volunteer places a heat shield (tin-like blanket) around the runner. I had been noticing all along the course that there were numerous volunteers of Pakistani appearance. Then, after I crossed the finish line, I encountered the volunteers (a different group) giving out finisher medals. A Caucasian male volunteer handed me a medal. I ordinarily don’t allow the medal to be placed around my neck, as do most runners, as I think it will obstruct the message of the Aafia shirt. The man congratulated me. Standing right next to him was a young Pakistani man. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Great job! And by the way, I support your cause. Free Aafia Siddiqui!”

It was my third time running the Chicago Marathon, and the slowest of the three. My times were 4:04 in 2018; 4:18 in 2019; and 4:22 this year (2022). So, perhaps I was slowing down with old age. Or not. Either way I could see the movement to free Aafia growing on many different fronts. And I was sure that the youth, who naturally gravitate to justice, would take the lead.

#FreeAafiaSiddiqui #ChicagoMarathon #RunningForJustice #BringInnocentAafiaHome #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #Pakistan

© 2022 Nadrat Siddique 

Nadrat Siddique was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but is currently based out of the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. She is a runner, marathoner, activist and blogger for social justice, with a focus on political prisoner issues. She is a member of the National Majlis Shura of Jamaat al-Muslimeen.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Running the MoCo Interfaith 5k

So this morning, I ran the MoCo Interfaith 5k in Boyds, MD. I ordinarily don't engage in interfaith activities, and registered for this race for one reason, and one reason alone, which I explain below. Numerous other faith organizations (Lutherans, Bahais, Ahmadiyyas, Catholics, and multiple Jewish denominations) all had sizeable teams registered. The number of members of each team was visible on the race website.

ISWA (Islamic Society of the Washington Area), which I occasionally visit, had a team set up. But, although they made announcements about the race (and the team they had set up for it) repeatedly on their Facebook page (and presumably at the mosque), no one had signed up for their team. Since I'm not a member of ISWA, I didn't want to pre-empt any ISWA members who wanted to join. So, I waited.

Finally, it was around the end August, and the race was on Labor Day. The Ahmadiyya team had ten members! And ISWA had zero. Finally, I buckled, and signed up. Right around the same time, three people from Potomac (a family) also joined the ISWA team. We were in business!

Race Day

The race itself was very well organized. It was held at the Maryland SoccerPlex, a huge outdoor park hosting 24 soccer fields. There was also a swim center, tennis courts, lacrosse fields, and even a cricket field.

I parked far away, as is my habit, and jogged to the packet pickup area as a warm-up. As I approached, I saw the Ahmadiyyas were out in full force. They, like a lot of the other religious groups, had a table set up. Their team was entirely male. Teams representing the other faiths all had mixed gender teams.

It was getting close to race time, and there were still hardly any Muslims. And there was no ISWA table. The saving grace was the presence of the ISWA imam. (He arrived quite late, sporting a traditional Muslim thobe.)

The preliminaries started. The RD (race director) called members of the different sponsoring faith organizations to speak. A member of the Shaare Torah Jewish Community spoke, as did a representative of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Then, ISWA’s imam took the mic and spoke briefly. He was very low-key and unassuming, as if trying not to offend.

The race started. We took off, running on a paved trail which traversed the soccer fields. It was relatively flat, and should have been a piece of cake for me. Instead, I felt every step, not being a morning runner.

The top finisher was a 14-year old boy named Ayaan Ahmad. When I checked, I was just a little disappointed to see he was not a member of Team ISWA. Then, I had a moment of panic, as I considered if he was Ahmadiyya (the names are similar or identical). I perused the Ahmadiyya team registry again. He was not listed there. Thank God! So, this young talented boy, who had just run 3.1 miles in 16:26 (16 minutes, 26 seconds), was an independent. And his pace was an astounding 5:18.

Alhamdulillah I was 3rd overall female, with the mediocre finish time of 24:44 (7:58 pace).

The sun was shining ever so brightly as I headed to work immediately afterwards. A boy with a Muslim name was #1 male, and a Muslim woman was #3 female. That almost never happened at local races in the DMV. Oh, and we beat all the Ahmadiyyas!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Pakistani Woman Marathoner Writes to Star-Telegram About Aafia

Following my running of the Fort Worth Marathon for political prisoner Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, I wrote the following letter to Fort Worth's main newpaper. Although I followed their guidelines to a "t," including number of words permitted (this is a slightly longer version of what I actually sent), they did not publish it.  -Nadrat Siddique

- - - - - - - - - - - 

To: The Editor

The Star-Telegram

I wonder how many Fort Worth residents realize their town houses a prisoner whom hundreds of thousands worldwide view as a political prisoner. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is serving an 86-year sentence at FMC Carswell for a putative crime in which no one was killed or injured. This past Sunday, I ran the Fort Worth Marathon to draw attention to her case. It's a case which former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark (himself a native of the DFW area) characterized as "the worst case of individual injustice I have ever witnessed."

Like Aafia, I hail from Pakistan, a country which boasts few women marathoners. So, in that regard, I am a rarity. Leading up to the Fort Worth Marathon, I'd done 47 marathons in 14 different states. Previously, I'd done two Boston marathons, two Chicago marathons, and a Washington, DC marathon--all to protest Dr. Siddiqui's plight. Fort Worth was my 48th full marathon, and the 6th one which I dedicated to Aafia.

It seemed particularly appropriate, given that Aafia had been attacked 2 1/2 months prior by another inmate at FMC Carswell who smashed a coffee mug on her face, burning and cutting her. Afterwards, the prison administration did nothing to protect Aafia, placing her in solitary confinement, as if she were the one at fault.

Running in my "Free Aafia Siddiqui" tee, I placed #3 in my division, which came as a shock since I was quite sleep-deprived, and lacked "home court advantage."

The next day, a friend and I headed to FMC Carswell to deliver a petition bearing around 750 signatures calling for Aafia's release on humanitarian grounds. We attempted, but were unable to deliver the petition, because administrative offices appeared closed. We left, resolving to return another day.


Nadrat Siddique 


© 2021 Nadrat Siddique

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Fort Worth Marathon for Aafia

By Nadrat Siddique

November 8, 2021
Fort Worth, TX

This weekend, I ran the 26.2 mile Fort Worth Marathon (race) to call attention to the glaring injustice of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's imprisonment in that town. For the crime of being an unapologetic Muslimah, she's serving an 86-year term. That means--if the authorities have their way--she may still be in prison after most readers of this post are dead.

Before her imprisonment, she was super-conservative; very family-oriented; and well known and active in her community, local mosques, and student organizations. And she was very focused on intellectual pursuits, earning advanced degrees from MIT and Brandeis in a short time.

I'm not sure how Aafia would view the enormity of my traveling 1,400 miles from the Washington, DC area to Texas to run a marathon in her name, and that, too, in funky red tights.

Some photos of my Fort Worth Marathon for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui are here.

The marathon, interestingly, is run on a portion of the Trinity Trail. This is part of a  huge system of trails- over 100 miles in total- called the Trinity Trails System. It is so expansive that you can basically travel the entire city on foot, bike, or rollerblade, relying solely on the trail.

During the marathon, an approximately 6.5 mile segment of the trail is traversed 4 times. Much of the route is flat and follows the Trinity River. I saw egrets, herons, and other waterfowl as I ran, repeatedly murmuring "subhanAllah" to myself. Along the way, there were water and Gatorade stops--and Saleema Gul.

What Gul Did

Saleema Gul, a staunch supporter of Aafia, came out to assist me in my marathon effort. In October, she'd helped organize a protest for Aafia (one of a five-city mobilization) outside the Pakistan Consulate in Houston, despite the strong objections of consular officials, including the CG, Abrar Hashmi. Seemingly in an attempt to disavow responsibility for the Pakistan government's essential role in Aafia's abduction from Karachi, and then her transfer to U.S. authorities for torture, the Consulate insisted that the protest not occur near their premises. "Any location but the Consulate" was the message. The Aafia Foundation and its coalition partners went ahead with the Pakistan Consulate protest anyway.

This time around, Gul again showed that she had more guts than most men. Fort Worth is nearly four hours from Houston. The Houston-based Gul woke up around 1:00 AM, chugged down some coffee, then jumped in her car and headed to Fort Worth. She was at the race with her "Free Aafia" sign well before me--and I was staying in a hotel literally 15 minutes away!

While I was running (sporting my "Free Aafia Siddiqui tee, prepared for me by an all-women's collective in Indiana), Gul was busily explaining Aafia's case to numerous bystanders.

As I passed by her, I was a bit concerned that she, a petite Pakistani hijabi, was standing in the midst of a largely White, largely pro-Republican crowd rocking a "Free Aafia" sign. And- Texas has an open-carry law. In other words, guns can legally be carried in plain view, on one's person in public places. Pro-Trumpers and others were known to use the provision to their advantage. Gul did not seem to be the least bit concerned. Afterwards, she told me the reception she got was generally positive, and that people were polite--even friendly--in some cases.

Torture in the Shadow of the Trinity

In the DFW area, everything seems to be about Trinity. As mentioned, there's the Trinity Trail, which runs along the Trinity River. Then, there's Trinity Park, Trinity Springs, Trinity High School, and Trinity Valley Middle School. There are churches of all denominations bearing the name Trinity. Then, there's Trinity Spine and Orthopedics, Trinity Valley School of Ballet, and Trinity Self Storage.

There is even a portion of the Trinity Trail a stone's throw from FMC Carswell, the prison where Aafia is held.

Although my understanding of the Trinity (in Christian belief) is limited, I do know that Jesus (AS) is a crucial component of this. To Christians, he is the Son (ouzo-billah). To Muslims, he is the revered messenger of God, sent to the people of his time to bring them to God's Word.

In either case, Jesus, like Aafia, was tortured horribly by the authorities of the time. And, like Aafia, he did not give up his faith under torture. 

As I left Fort Worth, I wondered what Jesus would say if he knew of an innocent Pakistani Muslim woman's continued abuse in an ostensible prison hospital, in the area popularly known as the "Bible Belt." Would he sanction Aafia being forced by her jailors, to walk on her holy book, Al-Qur'an?

#FreeAafiaSiddiqui #FortWorthMarathon #RunningForJustice #IAmAafia #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners 

© 2021 Nadrat Siddique
Nadrat Siddique is a Pakistani Muslim woman marathoner who lives in the Washington, DC area. She has done 48 marathons, frequently combining her twin passions of advocating for political prisoners and distance running by doing marathons to draw attention to political prisoners' cases. Previously, she did two Boston marathons, two Chicago marathons, and a Washington, DC marathon to draw attention to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's case.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Aafia More Guilty than Chauvin?

So Derek Chauvin, the cop who killed George Floyd--in broad daylight and on camera--got a prison term of 22.5 years. And he's appealing, so, if the pattern of police impunity holds, he may get out. Pakistani scientist #AafiaSiddiqui, killed no one and injured no one. But she got 86 years. Where is the justice in that?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Al-Jazeera Piece Reveals More U.S. Torture Techniques

A recent Al-Jazeera article talks about the US torture center at Baghram, Afghanistan. One of the former detainees interviewed, named Sultan, speaks of losing his teeth during interrogation (ie torture). Pakistani political prisoner Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who was also secretly detained at Baghram (her name did not appear in any prison registry, contrary to international law), similarly lost her teeth. This raises the possibility that this was standard practice by US forces, who claimed to be in Afghanistan to bring democracy there. The question remains: When will the US (and their equally genocidal predecessors, the Russians) be held accountable for the death and destruction it wrought on Afghanistan and its people?

--Nadrat Siddique