‘I Am Very Aware of the Danger’
Aryana Sayeed, 33, is the only internationally known pop act in Afghanistan. She is adored by youth — and hunted by the Taliban.
DER SPIEGEL: You’re beautiful, successful and independent — and, as a result, religious leaders would like to see you dead. How do you live with the fear?
Sayeed: During my time as a juror on the “Afghan Star” and “Voice of Afghanistan” talent shows, the death threats were the worst. Five mullahs issued a fatwa against me on TV, on a religious talk show, saying, “Whoever brings this woman’s head will ascend to heaven immediately.” While we were shooting, extremists killed eight colleagues in an attack on Tolo TV, which produces these programs. I’m still getting goose bumps.
DER SPIEGEL: Where does the hatred come from?
Sayeed: Radical mullahs say, “This woman comes from Europe and wants to put ideas into your women’s heads.” I teach women their right to be strong, to become independent, to stand up against injustice. But many men want to keep them as cleaners and baby machines, so they promise young men 72 virgins in paradise to blow themselves up to prevent the women from freeing themselves. It’s brainwashing.
DER SPIEGEL: Who wants 72 virgins?
Sayeed: The extremists play with the sexual frustration of young men. On the streets of Afghanistan, 99 percent of the passersby are men. When a woman in burka walks down the street, men stare at her bare hands and feet because the only women they usually deal with are their mothers and sisters. The young people are so hungry, so thirsty to catch even a glimpse of a woman.
DER SPIEGEL: Two years ago, tens of thousands of young men from Afghanistan came to Germany as refugees. How worried should parents be when their daughter becomes friends with a young Afghan?
Sayeed: The absolute majority of Afghans are innocent, decent people who would never harm anyone.