Afghanistan’s ‘Kim Kardashian’ performed at her country’s Independence Day celebrations despite threats from extremists.
Aryana Sayeed, who is often likened to reality TV star Kim for her revealing clothes and flashy selfies, defied the ultra-conservatives who oppose women performing in public.
Afghan security forces were on high alert Saturday as the war-weary country, reeling from a number of high-profile deadly attacks, marked the day with largely muted celebrations.
But glamorous pop start Sayeed took to the stage in Kabul in a rather demure floor-length green, black and red dress.
‘The concert will one hundred percent be held on Saturday evening,’ she defiantly told Tolo News before the concert in Kabul on Saturday.
Aryana Sayeed, dubbed Afghanistan’s ‘Kim Kardashian’, performed at her country’s Independence Day celebrations despite threats from extremists
‘The concert will one hundred percent be held on Saturday evening,’ Aryana (pictured) said before Saturday’s show
Aryana Sayeed (right) is often likened to reality TV star Kim Kardashian (left) for her revealing clothes and flashy selfies
And it did. Hundreds of young Afghans came to see her perform in the heavily protected Intercontinental Hotel.
It was supposed to be held in Ghazi stadium – for which 3,000 tickets were sold at premium rates – but security could not be guaranteed.
Sayeed is one of the judges of popular television music talent show Afghan Star – and a staunch women’s rights activist.
Born in Kabul but based mainly in London, she is despised by religious conservatives for the stylish Western-styled clothes she wears and her social media presence.
There was an increased police presence in the capital Kabul where President Ashraf Ghani hosted a private ceremony for Afghan dignitaries.
‘All of our police units are on the highest state of alert and they are placed everywhere across the city,’ said Kabul police spokesman Abdul Basir Mujahid.
‘We have increased the number of police checkpoints in and around the diplomatic quarters (too),’ he added, amid fears that the Taliban would mark the anniversary with a large-scale attack.
Hundreds of young Afghans attended the concert in the heavily protected Intercontinental Hotel
Aryana’s concert was supposed to be held in Ghazi stadium – for which 3,000 tickets were sold at premium rates – but security could not be guaranteed
Sayeed is one of the judges of popular television music talent show Afghan Star – and a staunch women’s rights activist
WHO IS ARYANA SAYEED?
Born in Kabul to a Pashto speaking father and Dari speaking mother, Aryana Sayeed left her home country aged just eight.
Her parents took her to Pakistan before they all eventually moved to Europe, settling in Switzerland, where she joined a local choir by aged 12.
‘It wasn’t for long but that definitely made me realize what I wanted to become when I grew older,’ she told The Voice Afghanistan, the televised talent show she judges.
After graduating as a Business Administrator from college, she decided to pursue a career in the music industry – and continues to do so from her current base in London.
She became a household name in her native Afghanistan following the release of her breakout song Afghan Pesarak.
She has since performed in more than 50 concerts around the world.
Known for her stylish dresses and heavy social media presence, Aryana has drawn comparisons to Kim Kardashian and condemnation from conservative Afghans.
In May 2017, following a sellout concert in Paris where she wore a nude-coloured dress, she was criticised by some for being ‘naked’ on stage.
She responded by burning the dress on a video she posted on Facebook in a bid to show ‘its material existence’.
She said afterwards: ‘It should be noted that the reason for this action of mine is not the pressure of those who still live in dark ages but to raise further awareness in regards to important issues within our society.’
August 19 commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, which granted Afghanistan full independence from Britain, although the country was never part of the British empire, after three bloody wars.
While Afghanistan’s red, black and green tricolour flag adorned many Kabul streets, the day was largely going unobserved by ordinary Afghans, who are frustrated by the deteriorating security situation and the lack of progress by the US-led international coalition forces.
The city has been on edge since a massive truck bomb ripped through its diplomatic quarter during morning rush hour on May 31, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians, in an unclaimed attack.
Taliban insurgents are currently at the peak of their summer fighting season and have launched several deadly assaults around the country in recent weeks.
Ghani welcomed dozens of Afghan officials for a morning ceremony at the presidential palace and laid a wreath at the independence minaret inside the defence ministry compound.
Born in Kabul but based mainly in London, she is despised by religious conservatives for the stylish Western-styled clothes she wears and her social media presence
On Instagram, where she has more than 250,000 followers, Aryana describes herself as a ‘Singer, songwriter, composer… TV Host, woman activist’
‘A very happy Independence Day to everyone in AFG,’ Ghani said on Twitter. This day was earned with lots of sacrifices. We must pay homage & celebrate this legacy.’
While some Afghans changed their Facebook profile pictures to the Afghan flag or to Amanullah Khan, the king who secured Afghanistan’s independence, others lamented that the fight against the Taliban, now in its 16th year, meant there was little to celebrate.
‘What independence day are we talking about when we are still at war with terrorism and don’t seem to be winning against it?’ one user wrote on the social media site.
The day got under way as US President Donald Trump wrapped up a meeting of his national security team at Camp David on Friday as he tries to forge a new strategy for Afghanistan.