Abdul Samay Hamed

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Who is Abdul Samay Hamed?

Abdul Samay Hamed is an Afghan journalist and cartoonist. The Village Voice described him in 2003 as "one of Afghanistan's sharpest political satirists".

Hamed was trained as a physician, but he views his primary work as the promotion of freedom of expression. In 1985, he began his first underground newspaper, Salam, in Mazar-i-Sharif. He went on to found nine more, including the women's magazine Sadaf. In 2003, Hamed said that he had started more than 90% of Afghanistan's "free" publications. He has criticized the power of local warlords on the BBC's Dari service, to which he is a frequent contributor.

In 1997, he had a confrontation on the street with Mohammed Mohaqiq, then the Interior Minister of Afghanistan, for his outspokenness. Hamed alleges that Mohaqiq and eight bodyguards proceeded to assault him, the bodyguards striking him with rifle butts and bayonets. Alarmed by the lawlessness of Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban, he fled the country the following year and received political asylum in Denmark.

He returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after the US invasion drove the Taliban from power. He then co-founded the press freedom organization "Association for the Defense of Afghan Writers' Rights", as well as a new magazine, Telaya, focused on social and political problems. When regional authorities attempted to ban Telaya in Baghlan Province, Hamed responded by appealing to the national Information Ministry, who overruled the regional authorities and allowed him to continue publishing. Hamed also began to contribute to the satirical newspaper, Kalak-e-Rhaastgoy—an "ironic parody of news events" that he compares to the US satirical paper The Onion—as well as drawing cartoons and writing satirical songs.

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Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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