‘Bruce Lee of Afghanistan’ recalls the hardships after the Taliban regained power

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Abbas Alizada, known online as the “Bruce Lee of Afghanistan” for his uncanny resemblance to the late legendary martial artist, recently recalled his unsettling experience after the Taliban regained control of his country in 2021.

Talk to The starAlizada, 29, shared the hardships he had to endure after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August 2021 and the subsequent departure of the US government following a 20-year occupation.

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As a martial artist, online star and member of the Hazara ethnic group persecuted by the Taliban, Alizada said the Taliban’s control of the country forced him into hiding for more than a year.

Although he was not necessarily on an official wanted list, Alizada recalled that he had to grow a beard to get past the Taliban border police and avoid recognition because he is famous in the country.

We had freedom, but the Taliban brought back restrictions and persecution,” he told the Star.

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Alizada said he had to cover his face whenever he needed to work out at a well-equipped gym in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

I went through tough days last year,” he said. “The Taliban took our freedom. I was going to my gym with fear and stress.

The Taliban too censored the arts when he controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

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During this period, the Islamic fundamentalist group imposed a strict ban on music, movies and television because its members considered these activities “un-Islamic”. Works of art, including paintings and sculptures from the famous Kabul National Museum, were looted and then destroyed.

Images depicting living people were also considered sacrilegious at the time, and books showing images of women with their faces revealed also suffered the same fate as other works of art.

After the Taliban regained control of the country in 2021, many artists were forced to flee Afghanistan for fear of persecution.

Alizada got his big break in December 2014 after his friends uploaded photos of him to Facebook. He then started appearing in several films and commercials in South and Central Asia a year after going viral.

His fame quickly rose, and in November 2020, he finally received his golden ticket after being offered a role in a Hollywood movie.

However, everything fell apart once the Taliban took over her country, and Alizada had to take a break from her dream of following in Lee’s Hollywood footsteps. He remembers writing a letter of intent to a Hollywood director in 2020 because he was already about to get a US work visa, which would have been difficult for Afghan nationals to obtain.

The US embassy closed shortly after US troops withdrew from the country, and its follow-up letters to a US diplomatic mission in Islamabad, Pakistan, went unanswered.

Worried for her family’s safety, especially since they are of the Hazara ethnic group, Alizada said she contacted Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada last year to ask for help, but never received Answer.

Alizada ended up being one of 32 athletes evacuated by a British non-governmental organization in December 2022 and was sponsored for permanent British residency.

When I walk the streets of London everyone wants to take pictures with me,” said Alizada, who now lives in Manchester. “People say, ‘You look a lot like Bruce Lee.’ I say, ‘I’m the Bruce Lee of Afghanistan.’ »

No longer restricted by the influence of the Taliban, Alizada has announced that he will finally join the cast of a Hollywood martial arts film slated for filming in mid-2023.

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