to focus, I stood up. There was smoke, with people running away. I went to see what was going on. I ran toward the smoke. When the smoke disappeared, I found
myself in the same place where the suicide attacker
PDN: Wasn’t your initial instinct to run?
MH: I am trained by AFP in war situations. I have to run
and save my life first, then come back in good time and
PDN: How far had you been from the explosion?
MH: Something like 15 meters. I was shocked and
scared, but [right afterwards] I walked everywhere
taking pictures. Then I saw Tarana. I took many frames.
I could see she was shouting for help, and showing a
boy in front of her feet. Another man came, and lifted
that boy, and the back side of his head was destroyed.
It was too much. I left, and I started taking pictures
from another site.
PDN: Did the experience change how you view the
work that you do?
MH: I should tell you that I will never be scared to cover
this kind of thing again. I will continue showing why
and what is war, how painful it is for civilians. My main
idea is to [confront] the people who do this: They’re do-
ing this for God? What God told them to do this? They
are killing women and children, and not changing any
policy. I hope they see this.
PDN: I understand you now avoid looking at that
MH: It’s so painful. Every time I see it, I relive it. I had
nightmares in the first week, and sometimes I still have
PDN: What do you know about Tarana Akbari? How
is she doing?
MH: I talked to her father. Tarana is OK physically, but
she has nightmares. She doesn’t smile anymore. Her
father told me she doesn’t go to school now because
she is scared of everything.
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PDN: Do you feel you might be in danger because you
took this photograph?
MH: I will [make] some more enemies. And now
that I’m visiting the U.S., and I was invited to the U.S.
Embassy in Kabul—the Taliban and insurgents will find
out, and they will say this guy is a spy, or a puppet, as
they say, and that will be their reason to kill me.
PDN: Did you grow up in Afghanistan?
MH: I grew up in Iran. I was born in Kabul in 1981. My
father was against the [Soviet] invasion, so he was in
jail, about to be hanged. We had to run away. My uncles got us to Iran, and some other relatives helped my
father escape jail and meet us in Iran.
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PDN: When did you go back to Afghanistan?
MH: In 2002. I was 20.
14 PDN | August 2012 | pdnonline.com
PDN: Why did you go back?
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