Afghanistan’s ‘Runt Messi’ flees dwelling

Afghanistan’s ‘Runt Messi’ flees dwelling

Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi posing with a jersey despatched to him by Argentine football megastar Lionel Messi in 2016Picture copyright
AFP / Unicef

Picture caption

Murtaza Ahmadi with a signed Messi shirt, which was despatched to him after being photographed in a handmade version

A young Afghan boy who was made notorious on-line for his devotion to footballer Lionel Messi has been compelled to cruise his dwelling for the 2d time.

Murtaza Ahmadi, now frail seven, went viral in 2016 after being photographed carrying a handmade Messi shirt, customary out of a plastic fetch.

He later met his hero in Qatar.

His family speak they have confidence now abandoned their dwelling in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from the Taliban.

They had been residing in the south-eastern Ghazni province – which militants were targeting – and have confidence escaped to the capital, Kabul.

They beforehand sought immediate refuge in Pakistan in 2016, but returned after they ran out of money, per AFP news agency.

The makeshift shirt

Murtaza was five years outmoded when he wore a plastic-fetch shirt in the white-and-blue colours of the Argentine nationwide workforce, which Messi captains. It had the player’s number 10 drawn on the entrance with a marker pen.

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Media captionA picture of 5-year-outmoded Murtaza Ahmadi carrying a handmade Lionel Messi shirt went viral

After a picture was shared broadly on social networks, of us known as for him to be chanced on so Messi could per chance acknowledge.

When the boy’s name was released, the player despatched him a equipment – including a signed shirt – via the kids’s charity Unicef, which he works for as an envoy.

Murtaza was later invited to fulfill Messi when the Barcelona megastar played a obliging in Doha in unhurried 2016. The young fan walked on to the pitch along with his idol.

The Taliban threats

Alternatively, his family speak they peril the recognition has made him a Taliban target.

“Native strongmen had been calling and announcing, ‘You have confidence become filthy rich, pay the cash you’ve got received from Messi or we can have interaction your son’,” his mother, Shafiqa, advised AFP.

She stated had been no longer in a location to have confidence interplay any of their assets – including the treasured shirt – when then left their dwelling in the nighttime after hearing gunshots.

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Murtaza, his mother and father and his Four brothers are residing in one room in a shared Kabul house

A dwelling below siege

Murtaza’s family are half of the Shia-denominated Hazara ethnic workforce, which has been focused by the Sunni Taliban.

The Ghazni condominium remains below deliver withhold a watch on, but it’s a ways notion about to be of strategic importance in the struggle between the authorities and the Taliban.

The laborious-line Islamic workforce launched a foremost assault on the condominium in August and renewed their efforts in November, forcing 1000’s of locals to cruise. A complete bunch of of us – civilians, troopers, and insurgents – had been killed in the outbreak of violence.

Murtaza’s 17-year-outmoded brother, Humayoon, advised Efe news agency they’d no longer been in a location to send him to school for the previous two years and so they attain no longer let him play in the facet road.

“I omit Messi,” Murtaza stated, when AFP chanced on him in Kabul. He stated he hopes to fulfill him again at some point soon.

“After I meet him, I am going to claim, ‘Salaam’ and ‘How are you?’ Then he’ll acknowledge announcing thank you and be stable, and I am going to plod along side him to the pitch where he’ll play and I am going to look him.”