‘The red flash near his ankles recalls the challenge’: Ako Salemi’s best phone photo | Photography

In 2015, Ako Salemi was on a photographic trip to northern Afghanistan with fellow Iranian photojournalist Majid Saeedi. One day, the pair were exploring near the tomb of Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib, known locally as the Blue Mosque for its intricately detailed blue mosaic domes and mosaic exterior. People feed the many doves – a symbol of peace – that gather around the grave, and Salemi photographed this woman as she made her way through the flock.

“I didn’t notice it at the time, but afterwards I found the red flash near his ankles amazing – almost reminiscent of the challenge,” Salemi said. Unfortunately, he was unable to interact with the passerby, nor show her his photo. “A man cannot talk to a woman in the streets of Afghanistan. In the radical interpretation of Islam, women are meant to belong to their men, and no one else should see them or talk to them. If you talk to a woman you don’t know, her father, brother or husband may get very angry.

Salemi hopes images like this will make people in Western countries remember the women in Afghanistan. “They fought for their rights for years, and now that the Taliban have regained control, they face a very bad situation. Afghanistan was already a country without freedom and without human rights for women, but also for men. Now they are fighting for their most basic rights.

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