Watch: Afghanistan's all-girl robotics team lands in DC after visas denied twice
In this photograph taken on July 2, 2017, teenagers from the Afghanistan Robotic House, a private training institute, work on a robot at the Better Idea Organization center in Herat. Photograph: (AFP)
Many rejoiced as the team of female teenager robotics builders from Afghanistan, who twice had their Visas denied, finally arrived in Washington DC tonight.
On two occassions they had trekked about 500 miles from Herat, in western Afghanistan, to the American embassy in Kabul to apply for the one-week travel visas, and they cried when they were refused.
The girls are working on a robot that can sort balls, which will compete against 163 other machines in a tournament called the FIRST Robotics Competition. When their visas were refused, they planned to compete via Skype. Thankfully, that is unnecessary now.
Watch as the Afghan Ambassador to the US, Dr Hamdullah Mohib, greets the team at the airport.
This week many online were angry to learn the team would be denied entry. This grew as details became published about how hard they worked to make it into the competition.
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.
But Trump himself urged the immigration authorities to reverse course, and the team was allowed in.
Though some social media users were unwilling to let the Afghan girls who had worked so hard share the spotlight.
step 1: implement policy that stops Afghan girl robotics team from entry— Sam Stein (@samstein) July 13, 2017
step 2: step in on behalf of girls
step 3: claim moral high ground