New York, News

Afghanistan’s new first lady is a Lebanese Christian

Rula Saade Ghani

Rula Saade Ghani(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — The election of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as Afghanistan’s new president makes the country’s new first lady, Rula Saade Ghani, a Lebanese Christian.

Ghani Ahmadzai made history after being elected president on Sunday, winning 55.7 percent of the vote.

Saade Ghani and Afghanistan’s president-elect met in Lebanon during the late 1970s, where they both attended the American University of Beirut. Ghani was a Muslim from a conservative Muslim country, and Saade’s was a Greek Orthodox Christians from a liberal Beirut.

Saade Ghani made her political debut after she spoke at an “International Women’s Day” event in March 2014, when she accompanied her western-educated husband to a political event.

The electoral campaign team said “during the event, women’s rights activists applauded her presence as a positive gesture and called upon other potential first ladies to follow her lead.”

The American-trained anthropologist reportedly helped her husband gather female support, with some women professing their backing because he is a Western-educated, former World Bank official.

Ghani Ahmadzai studied in the United States where he earned a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University in 1982. He worked outside of Afghanistan in academia for several years, before returning to Kabul in 2001.

The couple have two children together — Mariam and Tarek. Mariam is a writer and photographer who studied in New York. Tarek studied computer programming and worked for his father when he held the position of Minister of Finance.

According to the children, their mother did not convert to Islam upon her marriage and their father often accompanied the family to church when they lived in the United States.

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PHOTO: Rula Saade Ghani is Afghanistan's new Lebanese Christian first lady.
PHOTO: Rula Saade Ghani is Afghanistan’s new Lebanese Christian first lady.

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