Uk News 'I used to fly kites as a kid but the Taliban don't like anything joyful,' says Afghan refugee United Kingdom news
PremierLeague-News.Com - To mark the anniversary of the Taliban takeover, Sanjar Qiam - a refugee and master kite-maker - is launching a kite-flying festival to 'celebrate Afghan culture and highlight the crisis in Afghanistan'
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! “My overall impression of flying kites is running barefoot on dusty cobble under the scorching sun,” said an Afghan refugee, recounting fond childhood memories of his homeland. To mark the anniversary of the Taliban takeover, master kite-maker Sanjar Qiam, 41, is launching a kite-flying festival in August to “celebrate Afghan culture but also to highlight the crisis in Afghanistan”. The country is currently facing the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe with over half the population plunged into hunger, according to the Red Cross. Over the past 20 years, Afghanistan has been portrayed as a war-torn country, with our television screens dominated by images of infantry soldiers in rugged mountainscapes, and deserted towns reduced to rubble.But Mr Qiam wants his homeland to be known for a different kind of battle: a kite fight. This is a war of the skies, where guns and tanks are replaced with delicate kites handmade from paper and string. Prepare your kite for battle by attaching shards of glass to the string then compete with your opponent, attempting to cut their line so their kite flutters away, defeated.To win a kite fight you also need an assistant who holds the spool while you control the movement of the kite in the air. “Flying kites is a big part of Afghan culture,” said Mr Qiam, recounting colourful memories of his childhood.“I remember sneaking out of the house in the afternoon while everyone was having an afternoon nap to make and fly kites with my friends,” he said. When he couldn’t sleep at night after spending too much time in the blistering sun, his parents had little sympathy. “You have sunstroke because you snuck out,” his mum would tell him bluntly. Kite flying is a popular pastime and a key aspect of Afghan culture, but it was banned the last time the Taliban occupied the country from 1996 to 2001 on the grounds that it distracted young men from praying.As the Taliban consolidate its power once again, Mr Qiam fears the ban could be reinstated. “The nature of the Taliban is that they are oppressive,” he told i. “Anything that’s an expression of joy, fun or humanity, they wouldn’t like.”Mr Qiam has been flying kites since he was a child living in Kabul (Photo: Alice Denny for Good Chance Theatre)Mr Qiam, who lives in Brighton after immigrating to the UK in 2011, wants to bring a snippet of Afghan culture to the UK with a nationwide kite-flying festival on Saturday 20 August. Fly With Me, organised by Good Chance Theatre, will take place in 15 cities across the UK to mark the anniversary of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, with free kite flying workshops and a mass kite-flying event for all to join. The festival is being led by Afghan people including Mr Qiam and Elham Ehsas, an actor known for playing young protagonist Assef in the film adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel, ‘The Kite Runner’. Afghanistan has a tumultuous history, with the national flag changing 19 times during the 20th Century, but the people’s love of flying kites has remained constant. “During my lifetime, my country’s colours have been painted, wiped, repainted then wiped again 15 times. But we have always flown kites,” said Mr Ehsas. “The colours change but our skies are the same. Let’s take to the skies and remember that Afghanistan’s flag has been wiped once again.
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. “By making and flying kites in the Afghan tradition, led by Afghans who have made new lives in Europe, we will be standing in solidarity with Afghans in the latest affront to their freedom,” said the theatre directors. Mr Qiam now runs kite-making workshops for children (Photo: Alice Denny for Good Chance Theatre)A year on from the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the humanitarian crisis is “as bad as you can imagine”, said Mr Qiam, who still has friends and relatives living there. By mid-2022, 97 per cent of the population is estimated to fall into poverty, according to the UN Development Program. The economy is in crisis, foreign aid has been withdrawn and the rights of women and girls are being eroded, with restrictions on education and employment. “Gangster theocracy is brutalising the population without any vision of progress or any basic services for the population,” Mr Qiam said, choking up while describing the desperate situation in his native country. He is also demanding a “fair and equal asylum and immigration for all, including Afghans”. One year on from the fall of Kabul, the Home Office’s response to the crisis has drastically changed. The Afghan Resettlement Scheme has stalled and over 12,000 refugees who were evacuated last August remain stranded in unsuitable temporary accommodation. Rather than benefitting from a scheme like Homes For Ukraine, Afghans now make up the highest proportion of asylum seekers arriving on British shores in dinghies, potentially facing deportation to Rwanda.“With the crisis that unfolded in Ukraine, it has become clear that people are capable of compassion and a measured and fair response. They just choose to be inhumane,” Mr Qiam told i. Mr Qiam lives in the UK with his two children, Ivan, aged 11, and Felix, aged eight. His parents and brothers immigrated to Pakistan when the Taliban took over. Six years after Mr Qiam settled in the UK, the Home Office threatened to deport him, he said. They claimed he failed to meet immigration criteria, despite the fact he had set up a business as the founder of a toy shop in Brighton and raised two children here. Ideally, he would like to bring his parents to the UK, but fears they would not be treated fairly as asylum seekers.He wants the kite festival to send a message of solidarity to his friends and family, dispersed across the globe, displaced by the Taliban. “This symbolises internationalism. That there’s a global community of people who care,” he said. A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK is taking a leading role in the international response to supporting at-risk Afghan citizens and has made one of the largest commitments to resettlement in the world. “The housing of Afghan individuals and families can be a complex process and we are supporting people with many different needs. We are working with over 300 local authorities across the UK to meet the demand for housing and have moved – or are in the process of moving – over 6,000 people into homes since June 2021.”
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