The Afghani Boy Who Went Viral Is Now Being Hunted By The Taliban

Safa Hameed

As of January 2016, Murtaza Ahmadi, the little boy who went viral for his DIY jersey of soccer star Messi, is being hunted by the Taliban and other local Afghans for the suspicion of having money.

You may remember Ahmadi, during the early months of 2016. He was a little Afghani boy who went viral after a picture of him posing in a dirt field was posted on facebook. The reason this picture went viral was because he was wearing a striped white and blue plastic bag with Messi “11” written on it because the his family couldn’t afford an actual jersey. A few months later, as he took the world by storm, Messi got hold of the picture and had him fly out to Qatar where he met Murtaza. As a goodbye present, Messi gave him signed jerseys and soccer balls to take home with him.

When he returned home, however, things were not quite as it seemed. The spotlight did them more harm than good, and, according to Ahmadi, “The Taliban were killing our relatives and they were searching houses. They would stop cars and kill their passengers, searching houses and killing people.” He also mentioned that his days were spent listening to the whir of machine guns instead of doing what he loved most: playing football, which was banned by the Taliban.

His mother, Shafiqa, explained why he was being hunted stating,”Not only the Taliban, but some other groups also started thinking that Messi might have given him a lot of money.” What worsens his plight is the fact that Ahmadi comes from the Hazara tribe, the Afghan Shia people persecuted by both the Taliban and IS-K. These threats became so prominent that his mother decided to stop sending him to school. Eventually, it was decided that for his safety he needed to leave his hometown of Jaghori and escape with his family to the nearby city of Bamyan and from there on to Kabul.

While he is hiding in refugee camps, he and his mother have not seen his father since he helped them escape and Ahmadi commented that he misses him very much. For the meantime, his mother lives in regret saying that their lives would have been so much better had she her son not become famous. The miracle she hopes for now comes in the form of Messi, appealing with the soccer layer to get “Murtaza out of Afghanistan for a better future.”