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After death threats from the Taliban, an Afghan activist fled to Salt Lake City



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — One year ago Monday, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Monday evening, Afghan refugees in Utah are leading a protest against the Taliban, rallying for support, and hosting a candlelight vigil.

The Crystal Bayat Foundation wants to make sure everyone remembers the brutal takeover by the Taliban and the impacts on the Afghan people.

"There is no freedom of speech, freedom of expression," said Crystal Bayat, an Afghan activist.

Those who oppose the Taliban are likely to be killed or targeted with other forms of oppression.

She shared video she received three days ago of the Taliban firing on protesting women.

"I am a very patriotic girl. For me, my flag and my country is everything," Bayat said in an interview before the vigil.

Bayat is a 25-year-old Afghan refugee, social activist and writer who escaped near death a year ago for challenging the Taliban.

"I was the first woman to stand against them continuously for three days," she said.

She grew up in a democratic era, under U.S. control, in a male-dominated society. She drove a car, went to school and even studied abroad.

"I returned back to Afghanistan with a vision to bring changes to the life of women," Bayat said.

A year ago, she coordinated protests as Afghan women lost their freedom to study, work and even leave home.

"I wanted every woman to fight for their freedoms to fight for their rights, and get them," she said.

She fled after she received death threats from the Taliban, and arrived in Salt Lake City 10 months ago.

Afghan women today are fighting for bread, work and freedom. Bayat said she and other supporters are raising their voices against the Taliban here because the women in Afghanistan cannot.

"Wherever we are, no matter which geography we are, we are still raising our voice against violence, against the terrorists, against what they're doing with the people inside of Afghanistan."

Bayat has been recognized worldwide for her courage and outspoken criticism against the Taliban. She's asking everyone to join them and raise their voices in support of the Afghan people.

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UtahSalt Lake CountyWorld
Jed Boal

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