NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Sunday, dozens of Afghanistan allies held a rally in downtown Nashville ahead of an estimated 300 refugees slated to come to Middle Tennessee.
Tensions continue to rise in the Middle East as the Taliban continues to gain traction in Afghanistan. For some, it’s déjà vu. Afghan Refugee Masood Sidiqyar remembers seeing some of the same Taliban tactics when he left Afghanistan and came to Nashville in 1988.
“Banning education for women, taking people’s property away, extortion, kidnapping, outright chopping people’s arms off,” Sidiqyar recalled.
Now he and other Afghan allies are asking for the same compassion for those seeking refuge in Tennessee.
“These are people whose world turned upside down within a matter of days,” Sidiqyar said. “We’ve all seen footage of people just clinging onto airplanes; I mean that’s a sign of desperation.”
Desperation many of their families still feel.
“So we want to bring awareness that genocide still continues, the evictions are there; the reason you don’t see much media coverage is because most [of] Afghanistan’s cell signal is completely dead…They’ve cut the cell signals all over,” Nashville Afghan Rally organizer Mostafa Shamsuddin said. “And we want to bring awareness to everybody that, by the way, it’s still happening, we have families there.”
Those rallying also want Tennesseans to know their faith does not subscribe to the violence seen in the Middle East.
“These people have hijacked a religion, a religion worshiped by over a billion people and turned it into a weapon,” Sidiqyar said.
For Rashed Fakhruddin, the director of community partnerships for the Islamic Center of Nashville, one of his main concerns is the Taliban’s treatment of women.
“The basic rights, such as education, physical and emotional rights of every human being, and especially women, it’s part of the faith contrary to who’s in power,” Fakhruddin said. “Our faith teaches that every woman is to be physically and emotionally care of and so if any of that’s violated we have to speak out and hold people accountable.”
The allies at Sunday’s rally say they look forward to sharing the better life they’ve found with Tennessee’s incoming refugees.
“I’ve been in the Nashville community since 1988 and it’s been incredibly supportive over the years and I hope that people have the patience and the compassion that they showed me and other refugees,” Sidiqyar said.
Taliban leaders have expressed interest in joining the United Nations, which is something Sunday’s rally also denounced.