Nabi Roshan: Afghanistan’s Jon Stewart forced into exile

Nabi Roshan: Afghanistan’s Jon Stewart forced into exile

Shengjin, Albania – Nabi Roshan was a renowned comedian, dubbed by many as the Jon Stewart of Afghanistan, with his show aired on the country’s largest TV network – watched by millions each week.

But last August he was forced to flee the country after the Taliban armed group took over the country 20 years after it was driven out of power in a United States-led military invasion. He is now among more than 3,000 Afghan refugees based in Albania.

Roshan tries to keep a low profile but he often gets stopped by admirers – fellow Afghan refugees – who recognise him from his Shabak-e-Khanda (Laughter Network) show – popularly known as Afghanistan’s SNL.

And often he is invited to speak at gatherings of the small Afghan community living at the refugee centre in Shegjin, a small town by the Adriatic Sea. He uses his knack for satire, to add a little humour to an otherwise grim congregation of Afghans many of whom were forced to flee their country fearing persecution from the Taliban.

“Being in a refugee camp is such a social equaliser,” he said during one such event.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a former minister or a parliamentarian or a cook, when the food is served, we all run to grab the bread before it is over,” he jokes, as the crowd responded with loud laughter.

His satire is not just for laughs though, it also puts the spotlight on the unprecedented hunger crisis in his native country, where people jostling for a loaf of bread has become a common sight. The Afghan economy has been in a free fall, further worsening the humanitarian situation since the fall of the internationally-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani last August.

“One can’t make everyone laugh, but it is a nice feeling to be able to make people smile,” Roshan told Al Jazeera at the refugee centre in Shengjin, a small town with less than 10,000 people.

Read full story on Al Jazeera