Afghanistan Idol

March 24, 2009

Who knew?

“Lema Sahar never ventured out in public without an all-enveloping burqa — not until she jumped on stage and sang her heart out in the Afghan version of ‘American Idol.’
In a series of performances beamed across the country, the girl from Kandahar showed her face to the world — although her hair was covered by an Islamic veil — as she crooned anguished Afghan love songs.
She 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.
It was the best a woman had ever done in the competition, launched in 2005.
Sealing her success, the 20-year-old singer won an ‘award of courage,’ 4,000 dollars in cash and a recording contract from private television station Tolo, which hosts the programme.”

Of course, this ends badly:

“In [her hometown of] Kandahar Lema was considered a disgrace and she soon began receiving death threats, even from her own male relatives.
She had no choice but to flee for her life.
Speaking from the Pakistani city of Peshawar, where she has been in hiding since fleeing Afghanistan two months ago, she told AFP: ‘My life is under threat, everybody is threatening to kill me. It’s all because I participated in the Afghan Star.”‘

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