Washington, D.C., September 14, 2009 - Daoud Sediqi, former host of Afghan Star, one of Afghanistan's most popular and groundbreaking television programs, has joined the Voice of America (VOA) in the United States, where he moved to escape Taliban threats.
"VOA is an important channel in Afghanistan," said Sediqi, who works for VOA's Afghan Service. "It is the one place I can work and do something for my country."
Sediqi, 29, sought and was granted asylum in the United States after he came to this country for the airing of an award-winning documentary, Afghan Star, at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Utah earlier this year. He later joined VOA as a Pashto-speaking radio broadcaster.
"We are excited to have Daoud on our team," said Beth Mendelson, VOA's Afghan Service Chief. "Our audiences in Afghanistan enjoy having one of the country's biggest stars back on the airwaves."
During the Taliban regime, Sediqi repaired televisions to help support his family. After the U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001, Sediqi turned his passion for music into a profession. He was hired by a popular FM radio station in Kabul, and was later asked to produce Afghan Star, which showcases musical talent.
While Afghan Star made him a celebrity - his audience often topped 11 million - his popularity also brought death threats from Islamic militants who shun music, especially music performed by women.
After Sundance, Sediqi says he realized he would be in serious danger if he returned to Afghanistan. And while he misses his homeland and his program, he says here in the United States, "You can talk! Freedom! Believe me, I can be what I want to be. I want to think like a free man." Sediqi discussed his decision to come to the United States on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mXrynabFTg).
VOA's Afghan Service broadcasts in Dari (http://www.VOANews.com/Dari) and Pashto (http://www.VOANews.com/Pashto) on radio, TV and Internet.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages. VOA is the leading U.S. international broadcaster.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.