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Dreams of Hazara children smothered in attack on school


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – For the past four years, since the age of 14, the notebook has always been within reach. Shukria Ahmadi titled it “Beautiful phrases” and put it all in there. A poetry she loved – sometimes a single line, sometimes long lines. Her designs, like that of a delicate pink rose. His attempts at calligraphy in plunging Persian letters.

Now the notebook is torn and burnt. It was with Shukria on the day three consecutive bombings hit her school in the Afghan capital Kabul. The explosions of May 8 killed nearly 100 people, all members of the Hazara ethnic minority and most of them young girls who had just left school.

Shukria has been missing since the explosion. “She took this notebook everywhere with her,” said her father Abdullah Ahmadi. “I don’t remember seeing her without. She would even use it to shield her eyes from the sun. Everything she loved is here.

The attack on the Syed Al-Shahada school has been heartbreaking for the Hazaras of Afghanistan, even after so many attacks against them over the years. It showed once again how Islamic State militants who hate them for their ethnicity or religion – they are Shia Muslims – were prepared to kill the most vulnerable among them.

The school, which covers grades 1 to 12, offers classes for boys in the morning and for girls in the afternoon. The attackers waited for the girls to invade all the exits at the end of their day.

Thirteen-year-old Zahra Hassani recounted how she was run over by the first explosion.

“I saw bodies burn, everyone was screaming,” she said. She saw another student raise his hand to call for help. “I was going to help him, then the second explosion happened, and I ran and ran,” Zahra said.

Speaking in the nearly empty school, Zahra held back tears and shook the hand of a friend, Maryam Ahmadi. “What is our sin? That we are Hazara? That we are Shiites? Said Maryam, who is unrelated to Shukriya. “Is it our sin that we are studying? “

Dasht-e-Barchi, the district of Kabul where the school is located, was built by the hopes of Hazaras. It has long been the capital’s main Hazara neighborhood, and after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, impoverished Hazaras flocked from their strongholds in central Afghanistan in search of jobs. Dasht-e-Barchi has swelled into a giant sprawl.

Syed Al-Shahada School murals promise students that education and hard work will pave the way for the future. “Your dreams are only limited by your imagination,” proclaims a large and bright slogan on a wall.

But the explosions erased the dreams of dozens of Hazara children there. Here are a few :

Nekbakht Alizada, 17, dreamed of being a doctor. “I want to help my family and I want to help the poor, like us,” his father Abdul Aziz told him.

14-year-old Noria Yousufi wanted to become an engineer, her father Mehdi said. The best word to describe her, he said, “Nice. “

Ameena Razawi, 17, always had a smile on her face, said her father, Naseem Razawi. She hopes to become a surgeon.

Arefa Hussaini, 14, had a slogan by which she lived: “Where there is a will, there is a way. She swore she would one day be a lawyer, but even while studying she worked as a tailor to help support her family, her uncle Mohammad Salim said.

Freshta Alizada, 15, shone in her classes and twice skipped a class, her aunt Sabera boasted. Freshta always told her family that one day she would become a journalist.

16-year-old Hadisa Ahmadi was a math genius and dreamed of becoming a mathematician, her older sister Fatima said. She still solved Fatima’s math problems and teased her by telling her that even though she was older, she just didn’t understand. Hadisa wove rugs to earn money for her poor family and to pay for extra math lessons.

13-year-old Farzana Fazili was her family’s joker, her brother Hamidullah said. She also wove rugs in her spare time to earn money for her family. When she wasn’t teasing her younger brother, she was helping him with his homework.

Safia Sajadi, 14, made clothes to earn money to pay for her English lessons, her father Ali said. Crying, he bragged that his daughter always got the best grades.

Hassina Haideri, 13, had always been in the kitchen helping her mother, says her father, Alidad. She loved to cook, but dreamed of becoming a doctor. She sold clothes she made in a nearby store to earn extra money for her family.

Mohammad Amin Hussaini said his 16-year-old daughter, Aquila, loved him better than anyone. She would read him poetry and hope to become a doctor.

At Syed-Al-Sahada school, the students who survived were crying and holding each other. Some were angry.

Maryam said the Hazaras had no hope in the government, which she said did nothing to prevent the attacks.

“Only God can have mercy on us,” she said. “From the others, we don’t expect anything.

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