Afghan talent show singer finds fame as Justin Trudeau’s double

1 / 4
(COMBO) This combo shows a file photo taken on October 12, 2018 of Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) speaking at the end of the 17th Francophone countries summit in the Armenian city of Yerevan; and an image of Abdul Salam Maftoon (R), an Afghan singer and contestant of the television music competition 'Afghan Star', speaking during an interview with AFP in Kabul on January 13, 2019. (AFP)
2 / 4
In this photograph taken on January 13, 2019, Abdul Salam Maftoon, 29, an Afghan singer and contestant of the television music competition 'Afghan Star', who bears a striking resemblance to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, poses for a picture at the Kaboora Production studio in Kabul. (AFP)
3 / 4
In this photograph taken on January 13, 2019, Abdul Salam Maftoon, 29, an Afghan singer and contestant of the television music competition 'Afghan Star', who bears a striking resemblance to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, takes part in an interview with AFP in Kabul. (AFP)
4 / 4
In this photograph taken on January 13, 2019, Abdul Salam Maftoon (L), 29, an Afghan singer and contestant of the television music competition 'Afghan Star', who bears a striking resemblance to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, rehearses next to competition judge Qais Ulfat (R) at the Kaboora Production studio in Kabul. (AFP)
Updated 14 January 2019
0

Afghan talent show singer finds fame as Justin Trudeau’s double

  • Until now Maftoon has relied on singing and playing instruments at wedding and birthday parties to support his wife and four children

KABUL: An Afghan talent show contestant’s striking resemblance to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has turned him into an unlikely celebrity in the war-torn country — and potentially given him the winning edge.
Abdul Salam Maftoon, a wedding singer from a village in the remote and impoverished northeastern province of Badakhshan, had never even heard of his more famous doppelgänger until a judge on the popular television music contest Afghan Star pointed out the uncanny likeness.
Slightly built with a long face and dark brown hair and eyes, Maftoon, 29, hopes the flattering comparison to the politician widely rated as one of the sexiest leaders in the world will bring him more votes on Afghanistan’s version of American Idol.
“People have forgotten my name and now they just call me ‘Justin Trudeau’,” Maftoon told AFP, his self-conscious smile revealing two gold-plated front teeth.
“I didn’t know anything about Justin Trudeau until I saw the photos on social media.
“The resemblance has boosted my chances of winning the competition by 50 percent.”
Composite photos of the pair — Maftoon wearing a hat favored by men in northern Afghanistan and Trudeau in Western-style clothing — have drawn scores of comments on Facebook.
And a video of an Afghan Star panel discussion about their physical similarities has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
“Trudeau’s lost twin,” wrote Neila Abdulzadah on Facebook.
Fowzia Zereh posted: “I think their story is like a Bollywood movie — they were separated at birth and he found his lost twin brother.”
Another said: “This is truly the copy of Trudeau. I’d love to see our Trudeau win this year’s Afghan Star.”

Maftoon has a good chance.
The performer is among eight contestants to make it through to the next elimination round on Thursday.
The final will be held on March 21, the Persian new year’s eve.
So far Maftoon’s repertoire of romantic folk songs, which he sings in both of Afghanistan’s official languages Dari and Pashto, and his looks have impressed viewers, whose votes decide which performer is kicked off the show each week.
He has also caught the attention of the official judges.
“He looks like my prime minister,” said Afghan-born Canadian musician Qais Ulfat, one of the four judges who first pointed out Maftoon’s resemblance to Trudeau.
“His voice is very satisfying. He has that god-gifted vocal ability.
“This guy could be the next Justin Bieber.”
Until now Maftoon has relied on singing and playing instruments at wedding and birthday parties to support his wife and four children.
But he is confident that his new-found fame will boost demand for his entertainment services.
“When I go back to my hometown people will definitely call me,” Maftoon said, his trademark hat perched on the back of his head as he practiced vocals with Ulfat in a recording studio at local television station Tolo.
While Maftoon has little chance of going to Canada anytime soon, he holds hopes of one day meeting his Canadian double.
“I want to meet him if he wants to because he is a global personality and I am a poor man from a remote part of Afghanistan,” he said.
“We will see what happens.”


Ancient Afghan citadel collapses, cultural heritage sites at risk

Updated 15 June 2019
0

Ancient Afghan citadel collapses, cultural heritage sites at risk

  • The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years
  • The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan in urgent need of protection

GHAZNI, Afghanistan: An ancient tower dating back 2,000 years in the historic Afghan city of Ghazni collapsed this week, local officials said, raising concerns about the vulnerability of the country’s cultural heritage and the government’s ability to protect them.
The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years due to decades of war, heavy rain and neglect.
The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan — ranging from the pre-Islamic Buddhist center in the Bamyan valley to the 12th century minaret of Jam in a remote area of Ghor province — in urgent need of protection.
Officials in Ghazni, which nearly fell to the Taliban last year in some of the heaviest fighting seen in the war, said the tower collapsed on Tuesday following heavy rain. A short video posted on social media shows it crumbling but local residents say negligence also contributed to its collapse.
“The government paid no attention to the sites and didn’t build canals to divert flood water,” said Ghulam Sakhi, who lives near the citadel.
“We have warned the government about the dire condition of the citadel but no one visited,” Sakhi said.
Mahbubullah Rahmani, acting director of culture and information in Ghazni, said heavy rain and recent fighting had contributed to the tower’s collapse but said the government was working on a plan to protect the site from complete destruction.
He said a German archaeologist had worked at the site as recently as 2013.
Ghazni, a strategically vital center on the main highway between Kabul and southern Afghanistan and two hour drive from the capital, is home to a range of cultural and archaeological artefacts, some of which date back to pre-Islamic period.
The province and its cultural heritage was officially declared as Asian Capital of Islamic Culture in 2013 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a Morocco-based body created in 1981, supported by UNESCO.
The collapse of the tower in Ghazni follows concern over the condition of the 900-year-old Minaret of Jam, in Ghor, which has been on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002.
The Taliban during their austere regime from 1996-2001, before they were toppled by the US and coalition force in late 2001, blew up two giant Buddha statues in central Bamiyan province, calling them idols.