ATHENS DAY 9
Estimate 4 minutes reading
On Sunday, Mehrdad went to Church, and he very kindly invited us to visit.
One of his favorite reasons for going to church is that it is an opportunity to play the piano. He misses having a keyboard at home.
The Farsi speaking congregation gathers and sings almost non stop. The music helps absorb the sermon and occupy the mind. The prayer is in the music. Children led the choir.
The church is in a storefront on the street, and it is a very plain house of worship, without much art to it, but it’s services are very lively. It gives Mehrdad a sense of belonging, and in Athens, he has the opportunity to be safe in this community.
We met later in the evening at La Plataforma to attend a meeting with MusiKarama to discuss a collaboration with Lyrics of Sada, and meet a new musician. He did not wish to be named or identified because he needs to protect his family and himself from retribution. He’s from Afghanistan, and he spoke a lot about the racism he experienced there, and the continuing racism that he encounters here in Greece. From Greeks, he is shown hatred because of their ignorance of middle eastern refugees, and he is shown hatred from other Farsi speaking immigrants because of his Hazara lineage. His family had emigrated to Iran because of the pressures of living in Afghanistan as a second-class ethnic minority, and he was born in Iran. As refugees in Iran, they had no identities, residency, or citizenship, yet they still lived and worked as non-citizens. Without Iranian identity cards, it is impossible to buy anything beyond bread. Impossible to buy sim cards, motorcycles, cars, houses, and it would be unlikely to get a job above anything other than a subsistence level. As an under-class member of society, he was subjected to extreme violence and persecution, both from the government and from daily encounters. His father was shot. His family fled Iran like so many others.
He began writing lyrics for hip-hop music. Rap spoke to him and helped him to give power to his perspectives and give his grief and desire for society to change more voice. Here in Greece, he balances his need to protect his family with his need to speak out against oppression. He found some solace in music, the same way that Mehrdad was comforted by music. Music can lift us up from the most profound pain. We are very grateful to know these beautiful human beings and to feel their position in the world through their music.