Italy grants citizenship to top Afghan woman prosecutor

Maria Bashir says she is honoured to receive Italian nationality after fleeing Afghanistan

Italy has granted citizenship to Afghanistan's first female chief prosecutor after she fled the Taliban takeover of her country, a minister said on Thursday.

Maria Bashir, 51, was flown out in September after the US withdrew its last troops on August 30.

As chief prosecutor in the western province of Herat since 2009, Ms Bashir battled corruption, violence against women and child marriage.

The US State Department recognised her with an award in 2011 for showing courage in the face of Taliban threats, and Time magazine that year listed her among its 100 most influential people.

Justice Minister Marta Cartabia said that by giving Ms Bashir Italian nationality, Italy wanted to show its "support to all the other Afghan women, who continue to fight for their freedom and rights at a high price".

Ms Cartabia welcomed Ms Bashir when she landed in Italy on September 9.

As it approved the decision late on Wednesday, Italy's Cabinet said Ms Bashir had "worked closely with the Italian authorities while they were in [Afghanistan], contributing to reinforcing institutions and, more generally, the rule of law".

Ms Bashir told Ansa news agency she was "honoured" and hoped to be able to continue working for Afghan women, "with the help of our Italian friends".

She lived under Taliban rule in the 1990s, which she described in 2010 to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as "a particularly grim time for women".

"Everybody was scared to go to work and I, too, had to stay at home. So I started a secret school at home, for the neighbourhood girls," Ms Bashir told the UN agency.

Italy was one of five countries most involved with Nato's US-led mission in Afghanistan, along with Germany, Britain and Turkey.

In early September, Rome said it had flown out almost 5,000 Afghans after the Taliban takeover.

Updated: November 11th 2021, 11:09 PM