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Barber-turned-rapper Sayed Jamal Mubarez Crowned winner of ‘Afghan Star’ in Talent Show

Sayed Jamal Mubarez from Afghanistan's long-marginalized Hazara ethnic minority won viewers over with lyrics capturing both the hope and despair of youth

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Zulala Hashimi, 18, right, and Sayed Jamal Mubarez, 23, finalists of the music contest "Afghan Star," rehearse for the show in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 19, 2017, VOA
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Kabul, March 22, 2017:  A barber-turned-rapper has been crowned the winner of an Afghan talent show that offered its audience some relief from daily stories of insurgents and suicide bombs.

Sayed Jamal Mubarez, from Afghanistan’s long-marginalized Hazara ethnic minority, won viewers over with lyrics capturing both the hope and despair of young people living through a war against Taliban militants now in its sixteenth year.

Afghan Star, modeled on singing contests popular across the world, is in its 12th season on Afghanistan’s biggest private television network, Tolo.

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This year’s edition stood out after a woman — 18-year old singer Zulala Hashimi from the deeply conservative east of the country — reached the final for the first time, defying widespread attitudes against female performers.

But Mubarez emerged the winner later on Tuesday, looking every bit the budding rapper with his tilted red baseball cap and razor-trimmed beard.

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“I am so happy. … I would have been happy if Zulala had won it because in Afghanistan women are living in a restricted situation,” the 23-year old said after accepting his award at a television studio housed behind wire-topped blast walls in Kabul’s diplomatic enclave.

The sole breadwinner at his home in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Mubarez said he discovered rap in Iran and spits lyrics while cutting hair.

The contest has been held inside a fortified compound for the last two series after the Taliban last year killed seven Tolo employees in a suicide attack on a staff minibus.

Newer musicians can struggle to make it big in Afghanistan, where the Taliban once banned music and many disapprove of Western-style popular culture, and artists often seek the safety and freedom of a life abroad.

Mubarez told Reuters he intends to turn professional if he can find financial support, and would otherwise return to his barber shop while rapping on the side. (VOA)

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The Afghanistan Elections

This election saw people casting thier votes with the help of biometric systems.

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Afghan Elections
An Afghan woman shows her inked finger after casting her vote at a polling station during the Parliamentary elections in Kabul, Afghanistan.VOA

By Vishvi Gupta

Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections have been eventful with the threat of the Taliban’s attack and the constant violence and chaos that has followed and continues in the country. Out of 8.8. million registered people, 3 million people actually cast their votes in the ballot. The biggest turnout was recorded in Kabul.

The Taliban Militant have urged people not to vote since they see this process as an outsider’s attempt to further control the country. Recently, A candidate of parliamentary elections, Omar Zwak was killed in a bombing attack. The Taliban has since claimed the responsibility of this and many other explosions.

These are the first parliamentary elections since 2010 in Afghanistan that has been half seized by the Taliban. The US-backed government is full of corruption and the citizens of the country do not expect a fair election.

Afghan election
An Afghan woman casts her vote during parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

The United Nations have urged people to vote and exercise their ‘constitutional right to vote’. This election also saw people casting their votes with the help of biometric systems that posed a definite obstruction in the process of voting since the trained officials didn’t show up during the voting.

The results of the poll is expected to be released in mid-November.