Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi
Sayed Rahmatullah Hashmi was a former envoy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 'Sayed' is an honorific title that indicates lineage with the family of the Banu Hashem. Also known simply as Rahmatullah, he was once enrolled as a non-degree student at Yale University. In July 2006 it was announced that his application to pursue a bachelor's degree had been rejected by Yale College via the Eli Whitney Students Program.
Rahmatullah was born in Kohak, Afghanistan, to Pashtun parents. In 1978, his family moved to Pakistan. Rahmatullah grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan and was educated in madrassas and the Pakistani school system. His schooling was fragmented, but he did emerge proficient in English as well as Pashto, Persian, and Urdu. In the fall of 1993, he took a high-school equivalency exam in Quetta, Pakistan and was awarded a degree.
In 1994, Rahmatullah worked as a computer operator and translator at the zonal sub-office of Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kandahar. He was appointed to the position of diplomat in the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan in 1998. In this capacity he traveled around the world as an envoy of the Afghan Foreign Ministry.
In early 2001 he made a trip to the US. He met with US State Department officials, senators, and the media. At one point he encountered a protester, a woman who tore off her burqa; he said to her "I'm really sorry for your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you." Footage of the incident was later incorporated into the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
- "In 1998, they just sent cruise missiles into Afghanistan and they announced that they were trying to kill Osama bin Laden. We didn't know Osama bin Laden then. I didn't know him; he was just a simple man. So we were all shocked. I was one of those men who was sitting at home at night. I was called for an immediate council meeting and we all were told the United States have attacked Afghanistan. With 75 cruise missiles and trying to kill one man.".
After the 11 September 2001 attacks, Rahmatullah's family lived in Pakistan. During the US invasion of Afghanistan, Rahmatullah worked for CNN's Nic Robertson as a translator and a personal assistant. After the war he lived in Quetta, Pakistan, for most of the next three years, reading astronomy books, and completing his unfinished high school education.
Yale attendance controversy
In 2004, an American friend, Mike Hoover—a CBS cameraman who had sponsored his 2001 trip—suggested applying to college in the US. In 2005, Rahmatullah was admitted to Yale as a nondegree student. On 26 February 2006, The New York Times Magazine published a profile of Rahmatullah, making his status as a Yale student widely known.
In 2006, conservative sentiment arose opposing Rahmatullah studying at Yale University and questioning outright his presence in the United States. On 8 March 2006, Yale alumnus Clinton Taylor launched a campaign intended to discourage alumni donations until Rahmatullah's presence at the school is better explained by the administration. The initiative has been called "NailYale".
As of April 2006, Yale has published the following comment on its website:
- Yale has allowed Mr. Hashmi to take courses for college credit in a part-time program that does not award Yale degrees... We hope that his courses help him understand the broader context for the conflicts around the world... According to the State Department, Ramatullah Hashmi was issued U.S. visas in 2004 and 2005, first on a tourist visa and then in 2005 on a student visa. The mandatory procedures were followed, which, in his case, included vetting through an interagency security clearance process. He was cleared by all agencies."
A recent non-scientific poll conducted by the Yale Herald—a student-run weekly newspaper—which was answered by 2,000 undergrads, concluded that 50% of Yale supported Hashmi's acceptance and about 25% opposed it.
- Lehrer, Jim (29 March 2001). "AFGHANISTAN'S AGONY". PBS. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- Brown, Chip (26 February 2006). "The Freshman". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- Educating the Taliban at Yale, by Cathy Young, 13 March 2006
- "Roving Afghanistan Ambassador Sayyid Rahmatullah Hashmi". The Modern Religion. 10 March 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- The Freshman: Talib in Luce Hall, New York Times, 26 February 2006 mirrored at the International Herald Tribune
- Giving Yale the finger, Townhall.com, 8 March 2006
- Nail Yale: Fighting the Talibanality of Evil in the Ivy League, Townhall.com, 14 March 2006
- University statement on Mr. Hashmi's enrollment as a part-time, non-degree student, Yale University Office of Public Affairs, 29 March 2006
- Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi at the Internet Movie Database
- "You've Got Mail (It's From Yale): A university official calls Taliban critics "retarded" while the university maintains a stony silence, Wall Street Journal, 13 March 2006
- Ivory Tower Stonewall: A 9/11 survivor asks Yale to explain why it admitted the Taliban Man, Wall Street Journal, 3 April 2006