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 Najaf Mazari was born in 1971 in Shar-shar, a small village near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. He fled Afghanistan in 2001 and came to Australia. He settled in Melbourne where he now owns a rug shop, selling traditional Afghan rugs. His wife and daughter were finally given permission by the Australian government to join him in 2006 after a six year separation. In April 2007 he became an Australian citizen. Najaf Mazari has also set up the Mazar Development Fund which aims to raise financial support for health and education programs in his home town.

The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif tells the remarkable story of a Hazara man’s journey from shepherd boy in the mountains of northern Afghanistan and his flight from torture and certain death by the Taliban, to owner of a successful traditional rug shop in Melbourne. Najaf’s tale, compellingly told by biographer Robert Hillman, unpacks the grim reality of life in a war zone, of what it’s like to be in a house blown apart by a rocket explosion, to have brothers killed and to live in constant terror, to flee home and country in a reckless gamble to find a safe haven somewhere, anywhere. It is a story of grief, death, misery and hopelessness. It tells of a troubled country, Afghanistan, torn apart by constant war and violence. It documents the days of endless waiting in a soulless detention centre, Woomera.

This is the story of how Najaf, when confronted with persecution and death at the hands of the Taliban, decided to leave his wife and young child, flee across the border to Pakistan, make his way across the Indonesian archipelago, catch a leaky boat, reach Darwin and then be buffeted by the overtly political and less-than-happy experiences of being transported to Adelaide and the detention centre in Woomera before being recognised as a legitimate refugee and settling in Melbourne.

 

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