An Afghan singer and TV star publicly burned a figure-hugging skin-coloured jumpsuit after she was criticised for wearing it at a concert in Paris.
The outfit caused controversy because the beige colour made it look as though she was naked on stage, with her detractors accusing it of being un-Islamic. Aryana Sayeed responded by posting a video on Facebook of her setting the dress on fire, writing in the caption, “Today we resolve one of the biggest current problems of Afghanistan so we can start focusing on other bigger problems!”
Saeed is a judge on the Afghanistan version of the popular singing contest television show The Voice, and has spoken publicly about the oppression of women in Afghanistan, even writing a song on the topic. The description for ‘Zan Astam’ (‘I Am A Woman’), says that the song “expresses not only the strength of the women of Afghanistan but also reminds all the men who are oppressive that if it wasn't for women, they would not have come to existence themselves in the first place".
Sayeed was hit with a barrage of criticism on social media.
Sayeed took to social media herself to respond to the criticism. This is the video where she burns the dress.
In the video, she says:
"This is the poor little dress that seems to be the biggest single problem facing Afghanistan right now. If it weren’t for this dress, apparently, everything would be fine in our country. This whole controversy is ridiculous and unfortunate… Just look at it. I had no idea that Afghan citizens were so touchy about skin-coloured clothing.
People think this dress is transparent. But it’s in their imagination! The dress is not transparent. It has long sleeves, it has two thick layers of fabric, and it even has long skirts going down to the floor. You can see it clearly here on this video. Don’t go by what you can see in screenshots from videos of the concert.
I never wear clothing that exposes too much skin. This dress is a very normal outfit for Afghanistan. I wish the people who protested against my clothing, who were making such a fuss about it — I wish they would talk about the real problems in Afghanistan.
If I hadn’t worn this dress, there would still be paedophilia in Afghanistan.
If I hadn’t worn this dress, Farkhunda would still have been stoned. [Editor’s note: Farkhunda Malikzadaw was beaten to death by a mob in 2015 after being falsely accused of burning a Koran].
If I hadn’t worn this dress, child marriage would still be happening. Young girls would still be married off against their will.
If I hadn’t worn this dress, there would still be violence, and suicide attacks in our country.…
So I have decided that — because some people say this dress is the biggest problem in Afghanistan — I’m going to solve the problem. I will torch this filthy, immoral dress, in the hope that the Afghan people can focus on the real problems that bring us so much dishonour around the world.
At 17'55 in the video, she douses the dress with a flammable liquid. Then, at 19'45, she says “Ready?” in English, takes a match, and lights the hem of the dress. “There you go,” she adds in English as the dress goes up in flames. “Oh shit, it’s melting; that was fast.” Afterwards she continues in Dari:
So… the biggest problem in Afghanistan has been solved. I did not burn my dress because I’m giving in to the criticism. I burnt it in the hope that people stop talking about it and focus on the real problems facing our country.