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How An Afghan Community In California Feels About The Taliban Takeover

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the largest Afghan communities in the U.S., and many residents there are reeling after the Taliban's takeover of Kabul this weekend. From member station KQED, Sara Hossaini reports.

SARA HOSSAINI, BYLINE: When she was 14 years old, Nahid Fattahi was forced to marry a man living abroad just to escape life under the Taliban. Since coming to the U.S., she's been outspoken about the dangers of the extremist group and the importance of making sure women's rights are included when negotiating peace.

NAHID FATTAHI: We have been let down, especially by the (crying) American government, by Biden. This is 1994 again.

HOSSAINI: That's around the time she fled the country.

FATTAHI: My life changed as a result of them, their policies and their agendas. And what I'm fearful for is that the lives of (crying) many teenage girls and woman (ph) will change for the worse as well.

FARHAD YOUSAFZAI: Twenty years' achievement has been just collapsed in a day.

HOSSAINI: Sacramento-based community leader Farhad Yousafzai emigrated in 2014 after working for the U.S. government in Afghanistan. He says he hopes the Taliban might at least bring centralized rule and calm to the country after decades of a deadly war he now contends was useless.

YOUSAFZAI: Why'd they knock the door of every single Afghan, capture the Taliban, kept them in Guantanamo and Bagram thinking they were a terrorist? Today they are not? What was the purpose of this war?

HOSSAINI: Yousafzai says more than anything, Afghans need peace. He wants the Taliban to engage with the international community and its own people and embrace women and girls' presence in schools, government and media. Marena Habibi is less optimistic

MARENA HABIBI: In the Afghan community, it's tough to say what hope means.

HOSSAINI: Habibi is worried about her relatives there.

HABIBI: I have cousins who work for Afghan media, and they have received death threats. Female cousins who are university students fear for their lives.

HOSSAINI: Habibi is helping to organize an international protest on behalf of the Afghan diaspora later this month. Among the demands are humanitarian and infrastructure-related aid and international pressure on the Taliban and its allies to ensure an inclusive political structure for all of Afghanistan's residents.

For NPR News, I'm Sara Hossaini in San Francisco.

(SOUNDBITE OF HIPPIE SABOTAGE SONG, "OM") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.