National Robotics Team Gets Red Carpet Welcome In US

16 July, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Afghan girls team

The six members of Afghanistan's all-girls robotics team have arrived at Kabul airport from their home in Herat in western Afghanistan.

Twice rejected for US visas, an all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan arrived in Washington early Saturday after an extraordinary, last-minute intervention by President Donald Trump.

One member of the team, Yasamin said: "I thank the U.S officials who supported us and did not forget the people of Afghanistan".

When news began to spread of their visa denial, a number of groups openly criticised the United States government, with similar events around the world offering to host the girls at their competitions.

The U.S. State Department had told the Associated Press that it would not comment on why the girls' visas had been denied but that "all visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law". Afghanistan isn't included in Trump's temporary travel ban, but critics have said the ban is emblematic of a broader effort to put a chill on Muslims entering the U.S.

Many saw them as innocent victims of the harsher immigration barriers, especially from predominantly Muslim countries, taken up under US President Donald Trump's administration.

Roodaba Noori, a member of the team, said they got extremely sad when their visa application was rejected earlier this month.


"Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all", said Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib.

The reason seems to be President Donald Trump, as reported by CNN, has intervened on their behalf to ensure they make the global robotics event that welcomes teams from over 150 countries.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert would not divulge why this team alone ran into issues, citing the confidentiality of the process.

HRW explained that, previously, the team would have been relegated to competing via Skype while their hardware made it into the United States. On Sunday, the girls will be celebrated by supporters who fought for their right to enter the United States at the Embassy of Afghanistan. AP reports that girls had been deeply disappointed by the initial rejections.

The team manager, Alireza Mehraban, said the girls did not stop working on their entries after the visa denials, hoping they would be allowed to travel eventually - or ship the robots to the US for the competition.

Mehraban says: "It's a happy moment for our team".

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