Afghanistan: Afghan idol: ‘My life is under threat’

1 April 2009
20-year-old Lima Sahar charmed her way into the third spot of the 2008 version of the wildly popular ‘Afghan Star’ competition, beating more than 2,000 rivals in votes sent by mobile telephone text message. Now in exile, she fears for her life.

Lima Sahar


A year ago Lima Sahar won a recording contract and came third in the Afghan version of ‘American Idol’. Now she is hiding in Peshawar in neighbouring country, Pakistan, desperately seeking asylum in any country that could protect her from the series of threats on her life that she has received from the very day she entered the contest.

In a phone interview from Peshawar last week she has been talking to a journalist from the French news agency AFP about her fears and life in exile.

Whereas Lima Sahar last year was quoted of saying, “If I worry about security, I cannot be a star,” she now regrets reaching for stardom.

“I didn’t know all this would happen to me,” she said. “I can’t go back home. I can’t live my whole life hiding,” she said to AFP while adding: “Somebody has to get me out of here.”

Taliban threats
In recent years several musicians have been killed in Afghanistan and Taliban threats have since long even included several districts in neighbouring Pakistan.

Peshawar until last year was ruled by fundamentalists who enforced a total music ban upon the tribal province. Recently the Pakistani government made a ‘peace agreement’ with Taliban militants in the nearby Swat Valley. Since then a total ban on music has been enforced in that district.

Considered a disgrace
Talking to AFP from Peshawar, Lima Sahar told the reporter that attacks and threats started in her hometown of Kandahar, a southern stronghold of the Taliban where women are seldom seen in public and never without a burqa. In Kandahar, Lima was considered a disgrace and she soon began receiving death threats, even from her own male relatives.

According to AFP she had no choice but to flee for her life. She said: “My life is under threat, everybody is threatening to kill me. It’s all because I participated in the ‘Afghan Star’. My own relatives, some of my cousins, our neighbours, were also threatening to kill me.”

Read more

Afghanistan: Singer becomes symbol in the struggle for music freedom
18-year-old Lima Sahar has placed herself in the middle of Afghanistan’s continous gender and music struggle. She could become the winner of the tv show ‘Afghan Star’

Sources – 23 March 2009:

‘Afghan singer’s new refrain is a call for freedom’

MSN News – 24 March 2009:

‘Afghan singer’s new refrain is a call for freedom’



Daily Star – 30 August 2009:
‘I fear the x fatwa’
An interview with the exiled Iranian X Factor star Behrouz ­Ghaemi

Religion Dispatches – 23 August 2009:

‘Afghan Idol: Can a Talent Competition Save a Nation?’
An interview with the director of Afghan Star



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