One of Afghanistan’s most prominent pop-singers opened up on her decision to flee her homeland last month following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country, during a rare interview on Israeli TV.
Speaking from Istanbul, Aryana Sayeed told Kan news that in her “worst nightmares” she couldn’t have imagined the Taliban taking over the country as quickly as it did.
As the Taliban gained control of province after province last month ahead of the US military’s pullout of the country, Sayeed said she feared the worst. “They would execute women in public, and all I could think of was, My God, they are going to make me an example out of me.’
“I kept writing about how we should stay strong and united, despite all of the problems, but suddenly when I heard that the Taliban were taking over, it was so sudden that I was in shock,” she said of her loss of hope for a better future in her country.
As the fear set in, Sayeed, 36, booked a plane ticket out of the country and over several tense days worked to make it past five Taliban checkpoints on the way to the US-guarded airport in Kabul. By the time she arrived though, her flight had been canceled and she was forced to shelter in Kabul. She returned to the airport later that week and fled on a US military evacuation plane to a base in Doha, Qatar.
“When we got to the airport there was chaos with thousands of people. We had to push through them all in order to get to the gate. I was one of the lucky ones. There were people with American passports who were not able to get through,” she said.
After making it out of Kabul, she posted a selfie on Instagram and wrote, “I am well and alive after a couple of unforgettable nights… My heart, my prayers and my thoughts will always be with you.”
Sayeed speculated that she would never be able to return to Afghanistan again. Earlier this week, the Taliban announced that live music would be banned in the country.
“The Taliban are not willing to offer a space to a woman like me, a singer. It breaks my heart because it is my homeland. But forget about me, my whole heart and concern goes out to those who were left behind. I have always been optimistic, but now that the Taliban are back I am hopeless. Women in Afghanistan are now stuck at home,” she lamented.
While she won’t be able to return in the near future, Sayeed vowed to continue singing for the women left behind in Afghanistan and to give voice to their stories.
“Each voice for women in Afghanistan makes a difference. The Taliban now wants global recognition. And it’s time to put pressure on them to treat women in Afghanistan properly,” she added.