A lawyer representing an all-girls robotics team who fled Afghanistan has sent a formal cease-and-desist letter to an Oklahoma woman to stop her from taking credit for their rescue.
Tragedy for personal gain: Digital Citizen Fund (DCF), the parent organization that oversaw the safety of the 10-member robotics team, accused 60-year-old Allyson Reneau of using “such a tragically horrible situation” for her “own personal gain,” the Washington Post reported.
- Reneau, who earned a master’s degree in international relations at Harvard, claimed she stayed in contact with the girls after meeting them in Washington, D.C. in 2019.
- Kim Motley, a lawyer representing Digital Citizen Fund, said: “Continuingly recycling old pictures with the Afghan Girls Robotics Team, many of whom are minors, as validation that you had anything to do with their immensely stressful and dangerous escape not only impacts the safety of the girls but it also significantly affects the safety of the members of the team who remain in Afghanistan.”
- The robotics team, composed of women and girls as young as 14, has won international awards for their robots.
- DCF founder Roya Mahboob and board member Elizabeth Schaeffer Brown worked for days to get the girls safe passage to the U.S.
White savior: The Qatari Foreign Ministry, which joined the Digital Citizen Fund in rescuing the girls, called out Reneau for playing the “white savior” and claiming that she asked a friend to help the girls.
- Over a week ago, Reneau allegedly told U.S. media outlets that she had reached out to a friend to help the girls. She said she planned to fly to Qatar herself but decided to remain in the U.S. to help from afar.
- “The media let her be a white savior, claiming she saved the girls. (The girls) came to global attention because of their work … so it should be about them and their courage and the work they have done. This should be the story that the media is focusing on, not a woman who is thousands of miles away who is claiming credit,” ministry spokesman Ibrahim AlHashmi said.
Confused by the backlash: Reneau claimed that the attention she’s receiving has allowed her to “help other Afghan women, so I don’t see any reason for me to stop.”
- “I got into this whole deal to rescue people,” she said. “That was my goal. I didn’t want it to turn into a media circus. It’s not about me being superwoman; it’s about these girls.”
- The status and whereabouts of other members of the team remain unknown.
Featured Images via Radio Free Europe