Trapped Afghan Hip Hop dancer fears for his life
Hip Hop represents Western culture and has led to executions under Taliban rule
The scramble to get American soldiers out of Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline has led to a flurry of tragic events over the past couple of weeks, with scenes of desperate, terrified Afghans stampeding to the airport in order to secure their place on the last flights out of the country. Many are frightened of being left behind after adopting ways of life that would be deemed execution-worthy offenses by the Taliban. This includes a crew of Hip Hop dancers that have taught and performed Hip Hop for years. Most of the crew have already escaped to other countries, but one remains and his future is uncertain.
The 27-year-old teacher and choreographer, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke to Reuters about the severity of his situation.
"Hip-Hop is western culture...It's American. They hate it…Twenty years ago if a person was caught active in this kind of scene they would either be beheaded or shot dead," he said, referring to the last time the Taliban were in power.
Western culture is seen as unacceptable by the Taliban, who have taken control of the majority of the country and replaced the former government. The last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, there were public executions of anyone and everyone who were seen to show support for ‘Western’ culture, including music. They banned the playing of musical instruments last time, and there is little reason to believe their stance on such things has changed since, despite the Taliban’s claims that they will “respect the rights of women and minorities” this time.
The man’s dance crew has already escaped the country, including its two female members who would definitely have faced reprisals for their involvement. The remaining dancer has taught street dance and performed at shows across Afghanistan and in India, of which a lot has been recorded, putting him at greater risk. Not to mention he is a member of the Hazara ethnic minority, who are often persecuted by militant groups such as the Taliban and ISIS.
"I will do my best to get into the airport and catch a flight. That would be a miracle, that would be lifesaving," he said. He hopes to join his brother in Spain, but as time goes on his hopes are diminishing.
The Americans have evacuated around 70,000 people since August 14, a day that will live in infamy as the eve of the Taliban moving into and taking control of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. That number includes their own citizens and many at-risk Afghans - but not all.
His interview ends on a very chilling note; "I have a very bad feeling that I won't make it out of here.” We hope our Hip Hop brother finds his way to safety, where self-expression is celebrated rather than persecuted.