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This blog post tells the story of Murtaza Farooqi, one of the sanctuary scholars who is participating in my research into refugees and online higher education. It is part of a series which aims to offer a glimpse into the lives of some of the sanctuary scholars in online higher education. The background to the series can be found in the post, Introducing the Sanctuary Scholars’ Stories, and more information is available via my academic blog – see Openness meets anonymity/attribution in my research – some ethical dilemmas and a way forward.

Murtaza was born in Afghanistan and is now in his early thirties. He has always had an interest in intelligence and security matters. His career goal is to be a security analyst on Afghan affairs and contribute to positive changes in security-policy making in his country.  

Afghanistan (Image by R9 Studios FL on Flickr, CC-BY)

Murtaza completed his undergraduate degree in Administration and Diplomacy at a university in Afghanistan, with an interdisciplinary focus that ranged from legal studies to political science to diplomacy. He also had the opportunity to participate in the Central European University’s Open Learning Initiative University Preparatory Program (OLIve-UP), which gave him a foundation in social sciences and further enhanced his academic skills. As an additional string to Murtaza’s bow, he speaks seven languages fluently, including English, German, Persian and Urdu.  

Murtaza’s career has included being a cultural advisor and translator between local communities and the US military, working in a national body for narcotics law enforcement and criminal investigation, and being a liaison officer between Afghan civil society organisations and the British Council. In the latter role, he was responsible for raising awareness around media freedom, human rights and conflict management, and this was what inspired him to plan a career in the field of security and intelligence. However, his experiences with different national and international organisations posed security barriers for him, and he was forced to leave his country. He has been living as a refugee in Germany since 2016. During this time, he has been working as an online base volunteer programme manager with the Community Cohesion and Development Organisation (CCDO), a non-governmental organisation.  

Murtaza described his motivation for doing the MA in Intelligence and Security online as follows: 

I am confident that this MA programme will help me acquire advanced academic knowledge on, for instance, how countries engage in strategic decision making, why strong regional security is crucial for the coexistence of nation-states, and how intelligence information can help policy makers reduce uncertainty over their decisions on important state affairs. 

Murtaza has now successfully completed his MA and achieved his degree. He has asked me to share that he is very, very happy and he would like to thank everyone who helped him in this achievement. I will end this short post by saying congratulations to Murtaza, and all best wishes for the future!

Many thanks to Murtaza for sharing his story with us. If you are a reader of this blog and you want to share your own story about either learning as a refugee, or teaching refugees, we warmly invite you to go to the Write here page and start writing. You can choose to use your full real name, just your first name, or to remain anonymous. All posts are moderated by Gill Ryan and myself, and we appreciate all contributions!