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Politics & Government

Afghans In The U.S. Protest The White House's Handling Of Afghanistan

NOEL KING, HOST:

Afghans and Afghan Americans protested outside the White House yesterday. They chanted and cried. They shouted demands for change, and they attempted to comfort each other. Here's NPR's Kat Lonsdorf.

KAT LONSDORF, BYLINE: Twenty-three-year-old Enayatullah Ahmadi hasn't slept or eaten in over two days. He's too worried about his family in Afghanistan.

ENAYATULLAH AHMADI: The Taliban is right now, as I talk to them, 5 kilometers away from them.

LONSDORF: Ahmadi immigrated to the U.S. in 2017 with his immediate family. But two months ago, some of them went back to Afghanistan for a visit. They thought they'd be back to the U.S. in plenty of time. Now they're stuck in Kabul right as the Taliban take over.

AHMADI: I told them to hide your green cards, your passport somewhere because if they find that you guys have a U.S. green card, they're going to kill you guys.

LONSDORF: Ahmadi feels helpless, so he came to this demonstration to feel like he's doing something. A group of young men stand around him, patting him on the back, trying to comfort him.

NAWA LODIN: Long live Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Long live Afghanistan.

LONSDORF: Nawa Lodin helped organize this demonstration, reaching out to her community through social media.

LODIN: Everything happened so fast. It's completely shocking.

LONSDORF: She's been overwhelmed watching the images on TV over the past few days.

LODIN: I am just gutted because they look like me. They speak like me. That 100% could have been me if my mom and dad weren't lucky enough to get out when they did.

LONSDORF: Lodin's parents left in the 1980s. She was born in the U.S. But she still has many relatives in Afghanistan, and she sees this demonstration as a way to project their voices to the American public.

There are quieter moments, too. People are crying and hugging each other. Monica Hesham wipes away tears.

MONICA HESHAM: You know, I'm an immigrant. I've been here 20 years, and we left the Taliban.

LONSDORF: She has female cousins and aunts in Afghanistan who are doctors and university professors.

HESHAM: It doesn't feel great because I feel like it's a form of guilt. Why am I lucky? How are those girls different than me?

BAKTASH AHADI: It's hard. I think in some sense, I'm still processing, as well as everybody else.

LONSDORF: Baktash Ahadi says he's here in part to take stock of the deep sense of loss he's feeling.

AHADI: This is the place where people are going to hold that space for each other to say, tell me what's on your heart and what's in your mind.

LONSDORF: Ahadi says it's good that everyone here can at least help each other, even if they can't help their loved ones in Afghanistan.

Kat Lonsdorf, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOULAR ORDER'S "REPOSE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.