From dream to nightmare | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 07, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:55 PM, December 06, 2018

From dream to nightmare

Violence forces Afghan 'Little Messi' to flee home

Murtaza Ahmadi moved the world with his love for footballer Lionel Messi in 2016. His dream of meeting the Argentinian came true, but now the seven-year-old boy is living a nightmare as one of thousands of Afghans displaced by war.

Murtaza and his family abandoned their home in southeastern Ghazni province in November, along with hundreds of others fleeing intense fighting after the Taliban launched an offensive in the previously safe area.

Now they are among the thousands of similarly uprooted people struggling to get by in Kabul, and also living with the fear that the Taliban are hunting for their famous son.

The image of Murtaza sporting a makeshift Messi jersey -- made of a blue and white striped plastic bag and with Messi's name and famous number 10 written carefully on the back in felt-tip pen -- flooded media and social networks in 2016.

The media hype drew the football superstar's attention, and that year Murtaza met his idol in Qatar, where he walked out onto the pitch clutching Messi's hand as a mascot for a Barcelona friendly.

Messi, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, also gave his tiny fan an autographed jersey and a football.

But the moment of happiness has quickly dissipated.

The family belongs to the Shia-denominated Hazara ethnic group, who were targeted by the Sunni Taliban in their November operation in Ghazni.

The UN says up to 4,000 families fled, with witnesses describing "absolute terror" to AFP. Hundreds of civilians, soldiers, and insurgents were killed in the fighting.

Sports were rarely tolerated under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime, and the Kabul football stadium was a well-known venue for stonings and executions.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 22222

Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222


Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top