STORY. “I hate the Taliban but in my village, their arrival was a relaxation”, says a former refugee
Nasser Haidari fled Afghanistan at the age of fourteen. Today he has double and lives in Strasbourg. For a few months, however, the situation in his native country, the Taliban offensive, has brought him back there every day. Not without bitterness. “Afghanistan is not made for democracy.”
For three months, Nasser has not taken his eyes off his smartphone. And his spirit of Afghanistan. Every day, the Taliban rule the ground. Every day his family, stayed in the foothills of Hindu Kush, over there in the north of the country, tells him. Nasser listens, looks. He is no longer a spectator. Fourteen years ago, still a minor, he decided to flee this if “beautiful land” in perpetual war, to find “his own way”. As will be found by the Afghan refugees who arrived in France last week.
When Nasser talks about his childhood, everything is confused. He doesn’t really know anymore. He gets confused. It’s so far, so chaotic. the “path” de Nasser started very early. He was only a few months old.
His parents, Tajiks, are bakers in the region of Khinjan. In 1993, war penetrated this remote valley in northern Afghanistan. It sweeps away stoves, homes and hopes. The Haidari flee their country like so many others to settle in Pakistan. An exile that will last ten years.
Nasser’s earliest memories are images of an exodus. “There, in Pakistan, life was hard. My father went to work in Saudi Arabia and sent us money. There, they were pro-Taliban, we had to be careful of everything. an Afghan private school, it allowed me to learn my culture, to reconnect with my roots. [école religieuse]. A lot of my buddies back then got sucked into this just because they didn’t have the money. We would sometimes go back to see the family in Khenjan, so we had to take the radio cassette out of the car, that’s all I remember. ”
In 2002, with the arrival of American troops in Afghanistan, the Haidari regained hope. Not their house. “I still remember very well, there was nothing left. Everything had been destroyed, there were no more walls, no more windows, no more doors. People had taken what was still standing. started again from zero. Stone after stone. The whole family set out to find a home, a normal life. “
My parents told me, Nasser, go. Here you will never be happy
However, life in this green valley is not easy. The anti-government guerrillas intensify, the conflict becomes bogged down. The Khinjan, crossed by the main Kabul-Kunduz highway, becomes a crossroads for trafficking and racketeering. “The warlords confiscated land, got rich off the backs of the poor people. You could no longer travel on the road without being robbed. There was a great feeling of insecurity. Everything was rotten, corrupt. parents told me, Nasser, go. Here you will never be happy, never quiet. There is no life here for you. They would rather see me far away than dead. I left, I was 14 years old. ”
His childhood is well over. She will have been like the history of her country. Winding. Wasted. Nasser sighs but doesn’t regret.
The long road to Strasbourg
The teenager hits the road. Without knowing where to go really. Just run away. “I have found my way”. This word comes up often in his mouth, almost mystical. The journey is also internal. The uprooting, the mourning of a lifetime. Nasser tells me: “Iran, Turkey where I spent a month in prison, then returned to Kabul. I went back to Iran where I lived for nine months then Turkey again, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, the ‘Austria, Italy and finally France. ” Nasser walks, hides “in the trucks, under the trucks, I tried everything, I never thought of giving up, it was like an endless journey to a destination I didn’t even know, that I fantasized about: London? Paris? “
It was like an endless journey to a destination I didn’t even know
Two years later, Nasser landed, like many others before him, in the Calais jungle, this slum where more than 700 migrants are stranded, many of them Afghans. It will be dismantled a few weeks later. “I fled immediately, I knew I would be sent home. I went to Paris and there I took the first TGV in hand.” Destination Strasbourg. “At random.”
Chance pushes him there. Solidarity plants him there. “I was taken care of by a hostel in Neudorf. I was still a minor, it protected me in a sense. There I was able to benefit from an extraordinary surge of solidarity. I learned French, studied mechanics. They didn’t save me. “ Little by little, a web is woven around the young Afghan. “Other refugees held out their hands to me, taught me about life here so different. I had been alone for so long, it was like a rebirth. ” Today when Nasser sees the images of the Mercure hotel in Strasbourg, where are housed for a week Afghan refugees, his heart sinks. “I want to be a guide for them, a help as they have been for me. I want to make them discover this world.”
Nasser has already hired a young Afghan in his restaurant. Their story is so similar. “It is important to show solidarity. It is also a strength for us. It is a winner and winner. They are courageous people, workers, who bring a lot to France if we respect them.” Nasser has been French since 2016.
Nasser is 28 years old. Fourteen here. Fourteen there. And if he does go back to Afghanistan sometimes, he doesn’t want to look back. The observation is too bitter. “For 20 years, Afghanistan has been the prey of special or international interests. For 20 years, the warlords have grown fat on the back of the beast. My parents tell me how it is there, I know well. The government has not built anything, completed nothing. The popular classes have suffered deprivation, humiliation, corruption. In my village, farmland has been confiscated, people have nothing left. It had to end like that, the ground for anger is fertile. The rotten fruit has fallen. “
This is the return of the Taliban to power. There is what Nasser hears in the media and what his family is saying. “I am a democrat, I hate the Taliban and all that they represent but you know in my village and in the countryside, their arrival was a relaxation. After forty years of war, the people are exhausted, they do not aspire that only one has chosen: security and stability, and the Taliban are the guarantors of that, a certain peace.
After forty years of war, the people are exhausted, they only aspire to one choice: security and stability
And Nasser to go further. Bis. “Democracy is not made for this country. We cannot model our ideals, our principles on Afghanistan. Myself when I go back there, I am uncomfortable. I shut my mouth. I get up at 4 am to pray with my family. I avoid certain words. As soon as I speak, people know that I am not from here, I have a different mentality than them, they don’t like it It’s like that over there, very religious, Taliban or not. The big cities, the upper classes, it’s another choice but not the rural areas.
Democracy is not made for this country. We cannot model our ideals, our principles on Afghanistan.
Nasser returned to Khenjan last April. He stayed there for two months. To see his family. Each time, between them, the gap widens. Until one day he becomes impassable, Nasser knows it. “The Taliban were 5 km from our home, everyone knew it, nobody did anything. Everyone seemed satisfied: they were going to find their land, no more mess. I said to myself, that It is there, it will start again. I suggested to my parents to leave, they refused. After night the day, my mother replied. “
Nasser does not judge. He simply notes. “I know what the Taliban are capable of, but I tell myself that my needs pay for peace, even if the price to pay is high. Human rights, violence. It will be an autocratic country like China, l “Iran … but at least stable. If you follow the rules, nothing happens to you, basically that’s it.”
Nasser got married on November 3, 2019 to Sara, a young woman from his valley. Marriage a little arranged, marriage of love all the same. It is not so easy to shed the weight of tradition even for Nasser, even at 5,000 km as the crow flies. “I met her in 2016 but her very conservative parents wouldn’t let her go with me before the wedding. And then there was all the paperwork to do with a slow and sluggish administration. It was complicated. Very complicated. Now she’s stuck in Kabul. “
Sara attempted to join Nasser last week during emergency evacuations. “While she was going to take the plane, an explosion took place on the tarmac, she was stuck for 13 hours in the shuttle. It was the last chance, since the flights were suspended we are told because the risk of attack is too great. “ Sara takes refuge with her aunt who lives near the airport, cloistered. “Her father, a former warlord, hid in the Panshir mountains, he is wanted by the Taliban. She is afraid for him, for his family. She is afraid, period. She tells me about the shootings everywhere, chaos. I reassure her as best I can. I am helpless. We have no choice but to wait. ”
My wife is scared, period. She tells me about the shooting everywhere, the chaos.
For the first time, Nasser falters. Despite his harsh tale, he had hitherto remained cheerful, imbued with a fearful confidence in the future. “It’s very painful. I can’t say what’s going to happen, I don’t know, but I will do everything so that she can come. That I teach her my world, France, Alsace. “
Nasser will also one day teach him his trade. Here, behind his restaurant in Neudorf, his restaurant, Good choices: “It’s a phrase I used to say all the time when I was still a seller at the Christmas market stalls, for tourists you know? Nice Choices, very nice. It stuck.” Chalaw, Kabuli, traditional Afghan dishes but not only. “I invented kinds of tacos made from tarte flambée dough, yogurt sauce” It’s a story. Hers.