Afghanistan's 'Little Messi' flees home after Taliban threats, says family

Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi posing with a jersey sent to him by Argentine football star Lionel Messi in 2016Symbol copyright
AFP / Unicef

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Murtaza Ahmadi with a signed Messi blouse, which used to be despatched to him after being photographed in a home made model

A tender Afghan boy who used to be made well-known on-line for his devotion to footballer Lionel Messi has been pressured to escape his house for the second one time.

Murtaza Ahmadi, now elderly seven, went viral in 2016 after being photographed dressed in a home made Messi blouse, shaped out of a plastic bag.

He later met his hero in Qatar.

His circle of relatives say they’ve now deserted their house in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from the Taliban.

They have been residing within the south-eastern Ghazni province – which militants were concentrated on – and feature escaped to the capital, Kabul.

They in the past sought temporary shelter in Pakistan in 2016, however returned after they ran out of cash, in line with AFP information company.

The makeshift blouse

Murtaza used to be 5 years previous when he wore a plastic-bag blouse within the white-and-blue colors of the Argentine nationwide crew, which Messi captains. It had the participant’s quantity 10 drawn at the entrance with a marker pen.

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Media captionA photograph of five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi dressed in a home made Lionel Messi blouse went viral

After a photograph used to be shared extensively on social networks, other people referred to as for him to be discovered so Messi may reply.

When the boy’s title used to be launched, the participant despatched him a bundle – together with a signed blouse – by way of the youngsters’s charity Unicef, which he works for as an envoy.

Murtaza used to be later invited to fulfill Messi when the Barcelona megastar performed a pleasant in Doha in past due 2016. The younger fan walked directly to the pitch together with his idol.

The Taliban threats

On the other hand, his circle of relatives say they concern the celebrity has made him a Taliban goal.

“Native strongmen have been calling and pronouncing, ‘You may have develop into wealthy, pay the cash you’ve won from Messi or we will be able to take your son’,” his mom, Shafiqa, informed AFP.

She mentioned weren’t in a position to take any in their property – together with the dear blouse – when then left their house in the midst of the evening after listening to gunshots.

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Murtaza, his folks and his 4 brothers live in a single room in a shared Kabul condominium

A house below siege

Murtaza’s circle of relatives are a part of the Shia-denominated Hazara ethnic crew, which has been centered by means of the Sunni Taliban.

The Ghazni house stays below state keep watch over, but it surely is thought of as to be of strategic significance within the warfare between the federal government and the Taliban.

The hard-line Islamic crew introduced a significant attack at the house in August and renewed their efforts in November, forcing hundreds of locals to escape. Masses of other people – civilians, squaddies, and insurgents – have been killed within the outbreak of violence.

Murtaza’s 17-year-old brother, Humayoon, informed Efe information company that they’d now not been in a position to ship him to college for the previous two years and they don’t let him play on the street.

“I leave out Messi,” Murtaza mentioned, when AFP discovered him in Kabul. He mentioned he hopes to fulfill him once more someday.

“Once I meet him, I can say, ‘Salaam’ and ‘How are you?’ Then he’s going to answer pronouncing thanks and be protected, and I can cross with him to the pitch the place he’s going to play and I can watch him.”

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